Pairings: YunJae, DBSK/ofcs
Genre: drama, comedy, angst, smut
Rating: PG, PG-13/R for language and sexual themes
Summary: Han Chansook is a young, beautiful editor who has had to give up everything she ever cared about at her father's wishes. But he's gone too far this time. He blackmailed her into signing a contract requiring that she pose as the girlfriend of a famous pop star, Kim Jaejoong. Sparks fly as the two of them encounter misunderstandings, shared secrets, heartbreak, and the pressures and expectations of life in the spotlight. Not to mention...he's gay.
A/N: This chapter is pretty thought-based, rather than actions. Brand new banner courtesy of my little c_h_i_b_i. Comments and concrit are greatly appreciated. :)
Recap: Yunho broke up with Jaejoong, and Jaejoong almost did something that he would regret forever. As it is, he went far enough that Chansook may not be able to forgive him, and neither of them know what’s going to happen next. Chansook’s mother has lung cancer and she hasn’t seen her in a very long time. Jihyun is the receptionist at Chansook’s magazine, Grace, a magazine which is becoming wildly successful thanks to a brilliant new edition and Chansook’s newfound fame. Chansook’s father is the president of the company which owns her magazine; he blackmailed her into the contract with Jaejoong by threatening to slander his ex-wife, her mother, and she can’t get out of the contract without risking hurting her mom.
Chansook was on the first flight out of Incheon the next morning to Tokyo. She had contemplated temporarily another location; anywhere would do, really, but she suddenly wanted her mother, and her mother was in Tokyo, so that was where she went. Nobody followed her; she waited in a virtually empty airport and boarded the plane just after dawn. She wished for once that someone would stare at her so she wouldn’t be left alone with her own thoughts.
As she sat on the plane, she kept her hands folded neatly in her lap and looked straight forward. She was trying to shut herself off, because her mind wanted to replay things.
When she arrived in Tokyo, she caught a taxi and took it to her mother’s place, not bothering to call beforehand. Her mother answered the door to find her grown daughter standing outside with a little smile.
The two women uncharacteristically embraced, and they didn’t want to let go.
Her mother didn’t show anger at Chansook’s having been away for so long; instead she was delighted and warm and Chansook, too, was all smiles that first day.
It was a day of happy reunion, even though Chansook was worried. Her mother wasn’t doing well, and she was both saddened and angered by the lack of effort her mother seemed to be making towards fighting her disease.
Chansook was given the guest room that night. After talking together all day, her mom gave her another hug and said good night, and Chansook sat on the bed, rubbing a hand over the fancy brown comforter.
An image shot through her head of a different comforter, and she could nearly feel it against her face, feel Jaejoong holding her from behind…
Her hand stilled on the covers.
Chansook shook the memories out of her head firmly. She didn’t know what to feel towards Jaejoong right now, but she was not going to dwell on it like this. What happened happened. Besides, there was enough tragedy to deal with now; namely, the one in the next room.
For the next few days Chansook and her mother got to know each other for what felt like the first time. She had been living without her mother for many years, first because it had been a stipulation of the divorce, second because her career was in Korea, although Japan was just as much a part of her identity and she liked it just as well, and third because after the divorce her mother had lived dangerously and carelessly. Han Masami of today was so different from the mother she’d known as a child. She had almost forgotten what it was like to have a mother. She had almost convinced herself that her mother was dead and gone, when in reality the woman who raised her was still here and breathing. Chansook was returning to her bosom with a strange kind of relief. A mother was someone you could confide in, who wanted the best for you and loved you no matter what.
They had to talk about her mother’s health, of course. It had been utmost in Chansook’s mind ever since she’d found out, and the signs of Masami’s fading vitality were before her very eyes. This was real, and it was tragic, but her mother didn’t want to dwell on it, kind of like Chansook couldn’t dwell on last night.
Chansook realized where she’d gotten this outlook from now. Her mother had taught her to leave the past behind, where it belonged. From her father she had learned to take advantage of that which would take advantage of you. The two lessons put together had taught Chansook not to take a beating lying down, and that was why she was standing up to her father now and she was going to help her mother fight her disease.
Hwaiting, she thought to herself.
Jaejoong hadn’t seen sunlight for seventy-two hours. The blinds were drawn, and he’d only stumbled out of bed a few times to drink water out of the sink or eat ramen not completely cooked.
He couldn’t stop thinking, which was infinitely worse than feeling. Feelings didn’t have thoughts; if he could just feel, he thought it would be much less painful. He’d been through break ups before. But you can’t break up with your soul mate, his mind told him. It wasn’t supposed to happen, the voice in him said, reassuring. He’ll come back and everything will be fine; it’ll be even better than it was before.
But he couldn’t seem to convince himself. He lay in bed and sobbed into his pillow because he was just what everybody said he was-he was effeminate and he was weak and he was unworthy of having his love returned.
He’d be whatever anybody wanted him to be so long as he could have his love back.
“So what about that young man?” her mother asked one morning. Her mother was cutting up fruits for breakfast, and Chansook was cuddled in a sunny window seat with a strawberry on the way to her lips. She had known this topic would come up eventually.
“What about him?”
“Well, is it serious? He’s really cute.”
“Yep,” Chansook said. She saw her mother shoot her a glance. “Oh—I mean, yes, he’s cute. Not yes, it’s serious.”
“So it’s not serious?”
“I don’t know!”
Her mother silently sliced apples for another moment until Chansook drew in a breath and sat up.
“Something happened between us.”
“Oh?” her mother voiced.
“Something happened that he can’t take back and I don’t know if I can forget and I’m just not sure we can go on the same as before.”
“Relationships can change, Chansook. Change isn’t always a bad thing,” her mother said. “If it’s something you can forgive, something like this will just make you stronger.”
Chansook furrowed her brows, swallowing a berry.
“Even if I can’t forgive him, isn’t it better to go on as if it didn’t happen?”
“Why would that be better?”
“Pretend it never happened. We can get along fine.”
“What the hell kind of relationship is this?” her mother asked.
Chansook outright laughed. The mother of her childhood never would have said something like that.
“You have no idea, Mom.”
Chansook thought that forgiveness had nothing to do with whether an act was forgivable or not. Anything can be forgiven if one so chooses. Would forgiving or not forgiving make moving on any easier?
The memory of Jaejoong lying on the bed crying was enough to shock her out of her own fear and anger. Jaejoong was a strong person, but…he was also fragile. She supposed she’d seen hints of it before. The way he looked at Yunho showed his adoration. The night he had walked home in the rain showed his instability. Jaejoong was a person who needed security, and whatever had happened between him and Yunho had obviously ripped that out from under him.
Chansook was terrified because he didn’t know how to control himself. He had no right to pretend like he was allowed to lose control.
And at the same time, she thought maybe she couldn’t fully comprehend his actions because she had never experienced heartbreak the way he so obviously had.
But that didn’t mean she was willing to forgive.
It had probably him taken the first 24 hours to realize that Chansook had left. He couldn’t say that thinking about Yunho was more important than thinking about what had happened with Chansook—he didn’t know why it had happened but he regretted it so badly he wanted to puke.
He remembered grabbing her and dragging her by the hand…throwing her against the wall…and kissing her harder than he had ever kissed a girl in his life. He remembered her voice pleading him to stop. She’d no doubt had the shock of her life to discover that Jaejoong had it in him to act that way.
He wasn’t sure he’d known it either.
Maybe she wasn’t coming back. He couldn’t blame her, but he didn’t want her to leave like this. If she did, he would be forever ashamed of himself.
He buried his face back into his pillow.
It was several nights later when he heard a key in the door.
The front door opened and closed softly, and he recognized the sound of shoes being removed. The rustling moved around the corner.
Jaejoong was knotted in his bed, in a mess of sheets and covers, but suddenly he wanted to get up, just to check. He struggled out of the tangle and moved to his open doorway, standing just inside so he could hear. He listened as she moved into her room and shut the door.
She was back.
The apartment was quiet.
Chansook had gone back to work and she had lots to do, but she felt uninspired and confused.
She had no solutions for what had happened last week. She and Jaejoong simply didn’t know each other well enough. They had been forced into this blindly. Chansook didn’t necessarily feel like she should fear for her wellbeing, it was just…Jaejoong’s passion confused her. Under all his goofiness, he was really emotional; he was too intense for her. It was funny that she was just now realizing it, and she knew it was why their personalities clashed so violently sometimes.
As for Jaejoong himself, she hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him, so it didn’t matter how she felt about him. Chansook had seen several voicemails beeping on the phone, and notes building up in the mailbox. Maybe he was gone. Maybe he was fine.
She didn’t really care.
She was more concerned about her mother right now, who had informed Chansook before she left Tokyo that she wasn’t going to follow the prescribed treatment for her cancer.
She was also concerned about the stranglehold her father had over her mother and her. She couldn’t get out of the contract with Jaejoong without risking her mother getting involved. Her father would crush his former wife with no care whatsoever for her feelings or her health. To him Masami was just a means to reach Chansook, and now was not the time for him to mess with either of them. Chansook had to find a way to safeguard her mother…she needed a grip on her father like he had on them.
Jihyun was sitting at her desk, tapping the eraser end of her pencil against her head.
“How am I going to fit all these appointments into her schedule?” she muttered, staring at the planner.
Suddenly Chansook was the most popular editor in the city. The success of the summer edition had been a surprise to the literary scene, which always underestimated women’s magazines, but on top of that, the press was renewing its interest in Chansook, the ‘celebrity’s girlfriend.’ Everybody wanted to talk to her.
The relationship was something that Jihyun hadn’t figured out. Chansook had been in a few relationships before, but a steady boyfriend like this was something new. She wasn’t the type to fall head over heels, Jihyun knew that. Something definitely seemed a little off about her dating Kim Jaejoong, but Jihyun had no hope of figuring it out, not when Chansook was keeping quiet on the subject.
The phone rang.
“Han Global Inc., Grace magazine,” Jihyun answered smoothly.
“Hi. Could I speak to Han Chansook please?” a nice voice said.
“I’m afraid she’s a little busy at the moment. Could I take a message for you, sir?”
“Is she in the office at all? I’m terribly sorry, I don’t want to be rude. It’s just very important.”
“I can check to see if she’s available for you. Could I have your name?” Jihyun inquired professionally.
“Shim Changmin,” he said.
“Shim Changmin,” she repeated to herself as she reached out to switch lines.
“Wait what?! Shim Changmin??” she exclaimed as realization struck.
“That’s my name, don’t wear it out!” he said cheerfully.
“First Kim Jaejoong, now Shim Changmin? Who will be next!?”
“Well, probably Yoochun. He’s pretty friendly, and really talkative, you know. A chatterbox, if you will. Loquacious.”
Jihyun laughed, her eyes crinkling in amusement at his joking before she remembered her job.
“I’m terribly sorry for my behavior, Mr. Shim.”
“No problem whatsoever.”
Chansook was glad for the call.
“Hey Changmin, how are you?”
“I’m doing well, Chansook ssi. How about yourself?”
“Mmm…I shouldn’t complain.”
“Your receptionist is quite nice.”
“She is, very. She’s a good friend. Did she seem surprised by your call? You shouldn’t blame her.”
“I suppose not. She handled it pretty well, actually. I warned her that Yoochun would probably be the next one to call your office.”
“Thanks for the warning. So what can I do for you?”
“I have a few things to discuss with you. I don’t want to keep you from your work though…maybe we could meet somewhere later?”
They quickly set time and location, and Chansook returned the phone to its cradle.
She met Changmin for lunch at a quiet café. He walked in seconds after her, and he smiled casually and led her to a table. He was dressed impeccably, and his short hair looked dashing with his strong, handsome face. She felt kind of relieved to be with someone who didn’t have serious emotional issues.
“So how is everything going?” he asked.
“I’m not too sure myself. Nothing’s wrong, I hope?” she said.
His dark eyes narrowed slightly while he whipped his napkin over his lap.
“That depends. Why do you say you aren’t sure?”
“Oh, it’s just, my life’s a little complicated right now. But I’m sure you didn’t ask me here so we could talk about me,” she insisted with an embarrassed laugh.
He gave an unnerving smile.
“Like I said, that depends. But I’ll go first, if it makes you feel better. Does that sound okay?”
She gave a quick nod.
“First of all, Yoochun and I are really worried about Jaejoong. Have you seen him lately, or is he ignoring you too?”
Chansook opened her mouth and then couldn’t think of what to say, so she closed it again. Changmin watched curiously.
“Or maybe something is going on between you two?”
“No! No, no. He’s um…. I really think you should talk to him.”
He chuckled and turned his coffee mug.
“I’d like to, but that’s the problem. He won’t answer anyone’s calls.”
Chansook unconsciously dipped a fingertip into her coffee, which she wouldn’t drink.
“It’s just not something I can explain. Jaejoong’s going through a lot right now, but I can’t help him, and I don’t know who can.”
Changmin nodded somberly.
“Is it about Yunho?”
Chansook chanced a glance at him.
Now Changmin’s gaze seemed a little less friendly, and a little more piercing.
“What did he tell you?”
“He didn’t tell me anything,” she said defensively.
He looked away quickly.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound scary or anything. There’s just some stuff behind the scenes there, and who knows who actually knows the truth about it all. I’m sure I don’t.”
“I think that…” she swallowed. “Whatever was behind the scenes no longer exists.”
His eyes widened a little.
“Yunho and Jaejoong…?”
“Yeah, I don’t really know anything else. Jaejoong has…been pretty unstable.” She looked down at her coffee quickly, the images running through her mind making her blink heavily.
She looked up and a shiver ran down her spine when she saw the look on Changmin’s face. His eyes examined her face thoroughly.
“Did something happen?”
“No, nothing hap—happened,” she rushed to say, her breathing quick.
“Chansook,” he said, as if he were hurt. “Are you sure? Are you okay?”
Chansook forced herself to breathe slowly, and gave a little smile.
“I’m really okay.”
“So Jaejoong won’t talk to anyone.”
“I haven’t seen him since it happened. He doesn’t leave his room when I’m at the apartment.”
“That’s not good. Honestly, can I just go back to the apartment with you? He’s scaring us.”
Chansook shook her head vigorously.
“I have a better idea. How about you take my key and I’ll make myself sparse.”
She nodded, and he finished his coffee.
“Are you sure you’re alright?”
“I’ll be fine,” she smiled.
“Well, if you get tired of his place, you can come over to Yoochun’s and my place anytime you want. We’re a lot more fun,” he said. The fact that he said this so seriously made her want to laugh.
He whipped out a pen and wrote his number and address on a napkin and handed it to her. She exchanged it for her key.
When he walked her out the door, he touched her elbow.
“Keep in touch, Chansook ssi. Oh, by the way, what year are you?”
She blinked at the random question.
He pressed his lips together.
“Then, I’ll see you later, nuna.”
“Just call me Chansook.”
Changmin went straight to the apartment after that, and let himself in. He tossed the keys on the counter, looking at the shape of the kitchen (disgusting) and living room (also gross), and staring at the blinking light on the answering machine (37 messages).
He went down the hallway and pushed the door open without any warning.
“Jaejoong,” he stated as he went over to pull the curtains open.
The man was curled up in his bed, his hand pressed to his mouth while he slept.
Changmin went over and shook Jaejoong awake.
The older man looked at his dongsaeng, blinking his eyes into consciousness slowly. His face was pale and his beautiful eyes were ringed with purple. When Changmin had waited long enough to establish his gaze with his hyung, he spoke.
“It is 3 o’clock in the afternoon, Jaejoong. It’s the middle of summer, and you have too many responsibilities to lay here all day with no care for others. Get out of bed.”
His voice left no room for argument, and despite the fuzzy feelings in Jaejoong’s head and in his heart, he sat up once Changmin walked away. The younger returned in a moment with a glass of water and some aspirin.
“Take a shower and get dressed,” Changmin said, pushing Jaejoong helpfully into the bathroom. “We’re going out.”
Once Jaejoong was under the spray of water, he began to cry again, with intermittent spurts of bitter laughter. How silly of him to think that they would leave him in peace, to nurse his broken heart forever. No. They would never leave him alone. Some people still loved him.
A week had passed since the break up, and the time to return to the land of the living had come.
When Kim Jaejoong next walked onstage, he was shining. On the inside he was a bundle of sadness and pain, but on the outside, he sang and smiled like the star he was. Yoochun and Junsu were his best friends now, as they had the best time relating to emotions like these, but Yoochun was insistent that Jaejoong keep his head high, because this wasn’t all about him. Changmin, too, had no patience for Jaejoong to go into a fit of depression, although he showed he cared by staying by his hyung’s side.
They walked onstage as a group and they sang together, but there was a rift forming fast. The problem was that Yunho was pretending nothing had happened. All five of them knew that whatever there had been between Yunho and Jaejoong was over, but Yunho wasn’t going to talk about it, and how could any of this be solved when a painful breakup ended in a painful silence? Something was going to have to be done because at a crucial time like this, when everything was riding on their unity, they couldn’t be taking sides.
Junsu, Yoochun, and Jaejoong handled most of the talks in between songs, and when the performance was finished, they all walked to the side door. Yunho caught up to Jaejoong and touched the elder’s hand.
Jaejoong kept his smile on for the crowd as he twisted his hand away from Yunho’s grip.