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
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PART TWO OF CHAPTER 38:


I walked up the stairs to my joint office and nodded to the boys before I dropped back into my seat a little too loudly. It probably made me look like a child compared to my companions but at this point I figured I had a good excuse. What the hell had just happened? I had gone outside to get some fresh air and eat my omelette—and then walked right into an ex-lover.

Oh, the many shades of JaeJoong… It was as exhausting as always to keep up with him. I had seen him happily playing around with Yoochun at the beach last week, then seen him turn cold and impenetrable with me the next moment, and now he was neither of the two but coy and terribly shy in front of me.

To JaeJoong’s credit though, both times I had seen him this month he seemed less…consumed. He looked good. Possibly better than when we’d been together.

I rolled myself in the office chair under the desk and then steepled my fingers in thought.

JaeJoong the explorer, huh?

I’d always told him he had beautiful things inside him if he’d only let the potential out. Acting on a latent desire was better than nothing at all. It would be nice if he gained more experience exploring more of the world. The world was awesome. Seeing more of it could make anyone happier, I reckoned. JaeJoong was still a little naïve—and fair enough because he had lived in a big bubble for most of his life—but that didn’t mean he’d be stuck thinking naively forever.

I couldn’t help but smile as I dropped my head into my hands. As much as some worldly experience could do JaeJoong a bit of good, I didn’t want him to change too much. He was the oddest person I knew but that was what made him so interesting. He was so very different to what I was used to, but his complexity made him possibly the most genuine person I knew. He was an adult and a kid, he was cold and warm, he was brave and terrified, he was awkward but endearing, he was exhausting but loveable. And no matter what he said, no matter how strange his words were, you could never truly dislike him. That was his genuineness and it radiated from him with every breath he took and every glance he gave you.

Seeing him today… It really hit home how much I missed him and his little quirks.

That was okay though, right? We’d been lovers… Of course I was going to miss him after everything we had been through together. I could still help him without getting emotionally involved. I could provide the tools and he could do the rest. We wouldn’t have to hurt each other anymore.

I drummed my fingers softly on my desk. The sound went unnoticed, engulfed by the tapping of laptop keys from every other desk in the office.

The determination I’d seen in JaeJoong today was as genuine as the rest of him. He felt strong enough to confront a place he had hyped up over twenty-something years as a hell on earth. And I believed him. There was no way I could have rejected his plea for assistance. It would all be okay. I could stop thinking about it now; put it to a gentle rest and get back to what I was supposed to be doing. Which was…?

I glanced at the notepad in front of me and then dragged it down my desk until it was sitting right in front of me. The page was mostly blank; I had jotted down a few notes of what I had seen on the western side of JaeJoong’s island but that had been days ago. I had nothing to do.

I pouted and looked down under the desk at my shoes. Still scuffed. How had I not noticed that? I’d only had them a few weeks…

I softly blew out air and sat back up properly in my chair. Looking around the room I bounced the pen between my fingers and watched everyone else working. Then I looked at the clock. Still a few more hours. I rested my head on my palm and turned the notebook over to a new page with my other hand. I drew a few lines and then a few more and it started to look like a house of sorts. I wasn’t a drawer. My house was a box with a perfectly elementary isosceles triangle on top. Though to be honest it was looking more scalene than isosceles.

I sighed and tried to add a veranda down the front, a bit worn down with age. That looked like a piece of lego.

I really wasn’t an artist. If I had shown this picture to JaeJoong he wouldn’t have even been able to recognise the house in it. He hadn’t seen the house for twenty odd years and he could still draw it better than me. I’d seen it in his sketchbook. I hadn’t remembered it until now.

I sighed and added a bird on the roof. Just because. And then my forehead crashed onto the piece of paper and there is stayed. Not professional at all but everyone else was engrossed in their laptop screens so what did it matter. I wasn’t really needed for this part of things anyway. I couldn’t crunch numbers and I couldn’t write up proposals. I didn’t want to do any of those things. I wanted to…move. At least I could look forward to that little adventure with JaeJoong coming up next week.

The problem with sitting in an office with nothing much to do whilst everyone else’s hands flew over keyboards was that I only had myself to amuse. Normally I thought about where I wanted to travel to next when I got the money or whether the urgency swung more towards bungee jumping, hang gliding, or snowboarding. Today though, all that was on my mind was that quiet enigma with his humble café. And his pesky island. That darn place was miles away and yet it was always there following us around with a set of invisible legs. It was an unresolved issue, that’s why. It needed to be finished for good. But howwwww, I groaned inwardly and stabbed a piece of notepad near my nose with my pen.

When I got home the question was still nagging me—perhaps more than ever now that I had had enough time away from it before it came sling-shotting its way back into my head with JaeJoong’s puppy-dog eyes. So I cornered my sister on the couch after dinner and asked her something that I had been wondering about for far too long.

“Is it possible for someone to stop believing in something that they’ve believed in with all their being since childhood?”

HyunAe gazed over at me and raised her eyebrow. “Huh?”

Fair enough. That question had come out of nowhere. I wasn’t going to let it remain rhetorical though. If anyone was good at this thinking thing, it was my sister. “What if something really scared you as a kid,” I elaborated, resting one leg over the other, “until you started believing in spirits and stuff. But no one really told you otherwise. Like your parents weren’t around coz they died and no one broached the topic with the kid because it was such a heavy topic for someone so young and the kid never thought to raise it with adults because he thought he already had the answer. Hypothetically a Peter Pan: a kid who grows old without really growing all that much. Maintaining naivety and belief in spirits and monsters… Would that firstly be possible?”

“Possible? In this world, all things are possible.”

“Okay… But is it really possible?”

She gave me an odd look and then let out a little laugh. “Is it possible for someone to believe in the metaphysical? Christians. Hindus. Muslims—”

I quickly cut her off, “I don’t mean religion though.”

“Yes, all kinds of spirituality exist,” she said. “There are probably thousands of different spiritual beliefs out there.”

“But for someone brought up in Korea?”

“Korea?” she echoed.

“Yeh… A kid in Korea who believes in evil spirits.”

She gave a helpless shrug. “Anything is possible, Yunho. Everyone has their own spirituality.”

“Okay…” I said. I wished my brain wasn’t so sluggish. I knew the right question was in there somewhere but it was harder to find than the missing sock in my bedroom. “What if there was a kid who grew up really isolated. From Korea. But who lived far away from anyone. Physically and mentally. Would it be possible to keep believing in evil spirits even if no one else did?”

“Sure, I guess…” HyunAe said slowly. “I suppose you could look at it as someone’s different method of classification.”

“I see.” I saw her trying to hide a smile and groaned, “Don’t laugh at me. You know I’m not into encyclopaedias.”

“I’m not laughing at you,” she said—whilst still smiling—“I’m just… We’ve never really had this kind of conversation before.” She looked at my face and smiled wider. “So. Classification. This I know will interest you. I saw this on a really awesome documentary. There was this tribe in New Guinea or somewhere near that region and they had had no contact with the rest of the world. They were completely isolated.” She paused to let out a laugh, “I see that twinkle in your eye all of a sudden, Mr Explorer. I told you you’d like this.”

“Oh shush and go on,” I chuckled.

“Right. So basically, as far as that tribe was concerned, they were the only people in the world who existed. But one day, a bunch of Caucasian men accidentally stumbled across them and, you know, started trying to interact with them.”

I nodded.

“But as I said, these Melanesians had only known their people’s dark skin pigmentation. So who were these pale-skinned people approaching them? They were ghosts. Or more accurately, the tribe decided they were their ancestors, drained of colour in death, who had come back to talk to them. Do you see what happened?”

I cocked my head a little.

“The tribe explained what they saw using the only categories of classification that they knew of; categories that linked to their belief system and experiences. There was no concept of pale-pigmentation. But ghosts, spirits, their ancestors—those did exist. People can only comprehend the things around them by using the categories that they know of. And we do it because fundamentally we need meaning. We just do. We’re constantly trying to make sense of new experiences with whatever culturally-informed categories we have.”

“Right…”

“Okay how about another example: how the Melanesian tribe reacted when they saw the jacket tied around one of the white men’s waist.” She stopped to giggle, looking up at me with a glint a little too wicked for my liking. “You’ll love this.”

I gave her a look. “Will I.”

“Well, the tribe didn’t know of jackets, did they? Jackets didn’t exist in their world so they had no concept of them. So…they thought the white man just had an incredibly long penis that he had tied around his waist to avoid tripping over!”

A laugh escaped me and I shook my head as I gazed at her, “Oh you thought I’d like that, huh?”

“Come on, it’s amazing! Anyone would love that. It’s got nothing to do with your love of—”

“Okay, okay!”

She closed her mouth but her grin remained.

“I get it. That was a good example,” I murmured, nodding my head. “I guess an isolated kid can be like that too—if they haven’t learnt enough about the world yet anything is possible, but only in the ways they already know of. Curses and things can exist if they’ve read it in a book and haven’t really been shown otherwise.”

“Pretty much, yeh. Does that help your little psychological ponder session?”

“Yeah, it does. I think. Thanks.”

“But Yunho…”

“Hmm?”

“Who says curses and the supernatural don’t exist? That’s not for us to decide, is it? We classify things the way we see them. But that doesn’t make our way right.”

I nodded slowly and we were both quiet for a little bit. Her point was a little unnerving if I was truthful. I couldn’t imagine a world where spirits actually existed like that…but maybe she was right. Maybe we lived in that world and I was the blind one. Hopefully not though.

I started to get up, miles deep in my head, but HyunAe suddenly spoke again, “I’m not fooled though, bro.”

“Huh?”

“I know you’ve just got a jacket.”

I felt my face blanch and then I was yelling, “Oh! God!” I kicked her knee with my foot. “That is just nasty. No. I’m leaving now.”

Her laughter followed me into my bedroom but I did my best to ignore it as I kicked my slippers off and spread out over my bed. Today my head hurt but it tended to do so whenever JaeJoong popped into the picture. I hoped I understood better why JaeJoong thought the way he did; how a false perception had been left simmering unattended for far too many years until it had become so darn entrenched—an immortal monster hidden deep in his head. And it was all he had known because his parents hadn’t had the opportunity to tell him with authority before they died that certain things didn’t exist. I mean, who in their right mind would ever want to curse a little boy? JaeJoong wouldn’t hurt a fly now and I’m sure he wouldn’t have then.

I worried my lip.

Even if someone of authority had tried to explain what had happened to a young JaeJoong, like a policeman or the elderly couple he lived with afterwards, he may have been too traumatized and scared to take it in properly. He had seen things that they hadn’t. They didn’t live with him on that island; they lived in a completely different place. How could he trust their opinion? Sure they were adults and most kids believed whatever an adult had to say but this kid had been severely traumatized…

Even so, that didn’t really explain why he still believed in a curse as an adult. Growing up he had to have read different books, heard people say different things, and come to see for himself that curses belonged in fantasy novels. He had been a borderline hermit but he still had eyes and ears. Why would he have been the only one punished with a curse? It was a little unnerving to think that a childhood trauma could be so great that someone could grow up as an adult still believing in horrible things like curses and evil spirits. The world was scary enough without all that stuff…

My heart was hurting thinking about it. I’d gotten so bogged down in my own problems that I had lost patience with JaeJoong over the months. He had always been trying his best. It’s just his situation had become so exhausting it had began to feel like it was impossible for JaeJoong to ever change.

Maybe he could though. For real. I had been scared of the supernatural when I was a child and I had gotten past it. I hadn’t been traumatized though. Maybe there was still a link there though. A method that could be twigged here and there to work for someone with a more severe case.

I couldn’t get the possibility out of my head and found myself cornering Junsu the next day in his lunch break.

“Su, were you ever scared of anything as a kid? Like really scared?”

He hummed over his spoon of rice and then nodded. “Of course. I used to think my toys were alive and started moving around whenever I was asleep or out of the room.” He laughed and then added, “I used to sit outside my closed door with my ear pressed to it just in case, but they were always too smart.”

I smiled into my coffee. “Mine was monsters hiding under my bed. My mother read me this story where monsters lived under a boy’s bed if it was really messy down there. I figured with the state of my room, there’d be a whole darn colony under my bed.”

I waited for Junsu to stop laughing and then continued on, “I used to make sure all my limbs were safely on the mattress, tucked under the sheets. I didn’t dare even dangle my leg over the edge in case a monster paw grabbed my ankle and tried to pull me under. I was only scared at night though. They only appeared in the dark. It’s funny the logic of a child, isn’t it?”

“Sure is,” he chuckled.

“How did you grow out of that habit of believing your toys were alive and just messin’ with you?”

Junsu shrugged. “My dad told me it was just a show and they really were just inanimate bits of plastic and stuffing.”

“But of course adults wouldn’t know about the toys. Adults can’t see things the way kids can. Toys can easily fool adults. Kids know better, right?”

“Are you trying to re-traumatize me?”

“No!” I laughed. “I’m just saying. Did you honestly believe your dad right away and not come up with some kind of reasoning to justify the possibility that he was mistaken?”

“I guess I probably didn’t completely believe him right away. My imagination was pretty good. But I guess I just got distracted by other things like soccer and school and then by the time I remembered the toy thing I was already over it.”

I nodded slowly. “Our beliefs change and develop with new information. Being guided by our parents, moving on in our lives, growing up, understanding how the world works and its limits…”

“Err…” Junsu looked at my strangely and then laughed. “You are so random today. What the hell.”

“Oh…” I grimaced, smiling sheepishly. “Sorry. I dunno. I was just pondering childhood psychology in my office. What ifs, philosophy, and…stuff.”

“Oh good god. The new centre needs to be open and it needs to open right now—Jung Yunho is thinking in his office. If you start using words like ‘existential crisis’ I will have to alert authorities.”

“Oh shush the crappity up,” I laughed.


It had been nice talking to a close friend about it but it still hadn’t gotten me much further than where I had been to begin with. I wasn’t a psychologist. I knew nothing about the brain. I certainly hadn’t had any light bulb moments with Junsu.

Was there really a way I could end this? To really end it? I was starting to have my doubt again but then I remembered something else. My dreams. My dreams certainly seemed to think there was something I could do. What was it that Damien had said? ‘Three steps starting with you, then it will all ring true and be old news.’ It still didn’t make sense. Nothing had ever really made sense. The drowning dream maybe, but not the hide and seek game, or the photo of me in hospital, or my grandmother’s ring, or that news article. If there were answers in those to make JaeJoong believe there wasn’t a curse, I’d be damned. How could you make someone who believed the sky was blue for twenty-something years suddenly see it as green?

I stared at the green jacket hung over my doorknob.

Evidence…

Yes. Evidence. I would just have to find evidence that would be undisputable.
A demonstration that a jacket was something you put over your torso to keep warm and not an extra long male organ. A curse couldn’t be seen, it was metaph—fuck whatever it was. But surely there was something physical that would do just as good a job at disproving it. Monsters hadn’t been real under my bed either but I had felt under there enough and listened hard enough to grow suspicious of my own logic.

JaeJoong absolutely had the right idea; he should be taken to that island. There had to be something in that house that illuminated everything for JaeJoong. He’d never had a chance to as a child because he had been taken away from the scene. Maybe those coins that I had dreamt about were still buried in the garden somewhere. Maybe he’d see something else that wouldn’t hold any meaning to me but would for him and could break the spell (so to speak). At the very least, such a trip could provide him with a physical battle ground to defeat the demons in his head.

Three steps starting from me. The first step was taking him to the island. It had to be. That’s why Damien needed me; I was the only one who knew JaeJoong’s history, who had access to the island right now, and had experience. I had to just pray that everything would fall into place from there.

My new optimism was going well until I got to work on Monday after a lovely weekend and found a sudden meeting thrown at my team. We gathered together—Dongyul, Jongmin, Sangyong and I—and were given the news by Boss: we had been outbid and the land we had started planning everything for had been sold to a different company. A feeling of dismay hung heavy in the office for everyone after all the hard work that had been put in (a few too many eggs had been placed in that basket), but to me it was like someone had thrown a bucket of water over my head.

We had lost the property. A stranger had the rights and control over JaeJoong’s home. What happened to it was out of my hands.

“What are their plans for the island?” I heard myself asking.

“Wouldn’t know, Yunho, and frankly it’s not our concern,” Boss said before moving onto our next course of action. We’d look south this time instead of north where there luckily was another hole in the market.

I couldn’t pay attention to it. My mind was stuck whizzing around in the earlier revelation. I couldn’t get out of my head what would happen if they touched JaeJoong’s house. The memories and the artefacts that were contained inside for JaeJoong and only JaeJoong… If they were disturbed…marred…ruined…destroyed…

It was wrong. It was all becoming very wrong.

Without the rights to the island we couldn’t go there. The evidence would be destroyed and JaeJoong might never truly see things properly. And it was more than just evidence, it was his home. It was his chance to say goodbye to his family, to come to terms with his childhood.

And I had made a promise to him. I had promised him I would take him there. After everything, I couldn’t break that promise. I couldn’t do that to him.

When I closed my eyes I could see those old clues laid out for me in my dreams with that broken toy, and recalled the sense of urgency I’d felt then—the footsteps that I had heard coming closer to me, running everything…

It was now. I had to act now. For whatever reason, I was here and I was in too deep now. I knew the first step to end this and I had to take it—and quickly. Who knew how immediate the new land owners plans were to disrupt the island as it stood.

I woke up at 5:30am, had my shower and shoved everything I needed into one of my bigger backpacks. I’d been on the road just after 6am with a piece of toast hanging from my mouth and an energy drink propped up in the cup holder next to me.

I hadn’t had to call in sick for months so when I did, it went through without a problem. I had been half way to JaeJoong’s place then, calling work by the side of the road with my ‘stomach bug.’

With my phone back in my pocket, I leant against the side of my car and finished up my drink. I took the time to stretch my legs and freshen up my mind before another long stint of driving.

After two more hours I was turning the corner in front of Café JaDe and parking my car in the closest patch of shade I could find. I grabbed my backpack, locked my girl and sprinted across the road to the old building where JaeJoong hopefully was.

A few people were still scattered around the café having a late breakfast but I ignored them as I looked ahead at my target. My boots made a familiar thumping on the staircase that led to JaeJoong’s living quarters and then there was a pause as I flung the door open and continued into the room.

JaeJoong had been scrolling through something on his computer but turned instantly at the sound of the sudden intrusion. His eyes reached my face and they widened in momentary surprise.

“Change of plans,” I told him. “We have to do this thing today.” I gave a quick glance to the glowing computer screen. “I hope that isn’t important.”

“Kind of but…” he swallowed and looked back to me. “Why today?”

“Long story that I’ll have to explain on the way. I need you to shut that down and gather things you’ll need—water, snacks, sunscreen, a camera if you’d like. And you’ll need to change into shoes with a strong grip.”

JaeJoong turned back and started clicking the mouse frantically over his screen. While he did, I looked for my favourite door at the moment and moved quickly towards it.

“Where are you going?” I heard JaeJoong ask.

“Four hours drive and two Red Bulls, I called over my shoulder as I disappeared into the bathroom. When I was done, I found JaeJoong stuffing things into a small backpack and I walked over to his shoe cupboard to bring out a suitable pair for him. I reached for his sneakers and then stopped when I saw an unfamiliar pair of shoes near them. I reached in and pulled the leather boots out. I lifted them to my nose and smelt the new leather. They had that lovely leather smell but not as strong as I had been expecting. These shoes weren’t bought recently. There was a bit of old dirt caked around the edge of the soles as well, suggesting the same.

“You bought boots?” I asked as I turned to look at him and lifted the boots for him to see.

He looked over and then nodded. He didn’t offer any explanation though so I asked, “What do you use them for?”

He was watching his water bottle fill up under the tap as he said, “Hiking and cycling mostly.”

I gave a thoughtful nod and placed them by his bed for him to put on. An odd feeling came over me as I watched him lace them up. The emotion had no name but I could feel it spreading all over. Some strange anticipation... A delicate excitement… His fingers danced over the second lace and I felt myself smiling. And then he was done and looking up at me, almost like a soldier awaiting further instruction.

“Alright,” I said. “Let’s do this.”

He nodded and I led the way out of the room. Two pairs of boots thunked down the stairs this time and he kept up with me all the way down to the wharf. There were a few clouds in the distance but otherwise the weather seemed tame.

Beside us waves carried twinkling sunlight over to the pier before crashing against the barnacle-laced columns. I saw JaeJoong eyeing the churning water with some trepidation but his boots remained firmly in place. He wasn’t running.

I turned and started slowly making my way down the pier, surveying the quality of boats up for hire along the way to the rental shed. We’d need a decent one for the distance we’d be going.

“There are so many,” I heard JaeJoong say from behind me.

“Yeh,” I agreed and looked over my shoulder at him. “Any take your fancy?”

“One that works.”

I gave a small laugh. “Yep, that would be ideal.”

“Well, aside from that I’m good.”

“A boat that works. You’re easy to please.”

He hummed in agreement, eyes jumping across each boat we passed. It didn’t escape my notice that his face was growing paler by the minute.

My pace slowed to a stop and I waited for his eyes to reach mine. When they did I spoke to him softly, “All of these boats work. And the one we will be on will be even better than most. It will have a motor and we will be able to control its speed and its direction. I promise you we will not touch water. I wouldn’t take you anywhere unsafe.”

“I know,” he said even softer.

I smiled at him. “It will be alright. It’ll be fun. An adventure. You’re going to love the wind in your hair. Captain Yunho will make sure of it.”

He returned the smile and questioned, “Captain Yunho?”

“I hear he’s the best.”

“You would hear that, wouldn’t you?” he laughed.

I winked and led us toward the gorgeous little boat I had my eye on. It looked humble on the waters but that deceptively powerful beauty was going to take JaeJoong back to the place he had not seen for twenty odd years.

A soft breeze blew across my face and I looked out to the blue horizon.

Damien, I’m taking him home.


///TBC///


A/N:
And that ladies and gentlemen marks the start of everything I wrote this fic about. Finally I can write that massive, emotional chapter! I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it justice after all this time (it’s been floating around in my head for 3 years now), but I’ll give it my all~

The documentary mentioned here does exist (obviously). It’s called “First Contact” for anyone that is curious, by the Leahy brothers and directed by Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson. It happened in the ‘30s but the documentary was made in the good ole ‘80s (oh the amount of joyous, dated music in that doco). I saw it in my first Anthropology unit at university and it was so fascinating I never forgot it. ^^

I actually wrote an awesome quote down in my notebook at the time (I think it’s awesome at least XD) and I think it fits well with this story:

“Our picture of the world is kind of a virtual reality… It’s a form of intelligent hallucination” – Professor R.

(I don’t actually know who I am referencing there because we didn’t call our lecturers ‘professor’ but I’m giving credit where it’s due. ^^;;)

Anyways, at the very least there will be 2 chapters left. At the most, 3. The next one is the biggie. I’ll need to recharge my heartstrings. ^^;;

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR COMMENTS. You’re all wonderful. <3
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