Early the next morning Jaejoong was awoken by the shrill screaming of his alarm clock. He hit the snooze button and rolled over on to his side. JiJi walked across him when the alarm went of for the second time.
He rolled out of bed, showered quickly and gathered a change of clothes for Yunho. He decided to skip breakfast and just head to the hospital instead. It was a quiet, serene drive to the hospital. He was hopeful of the promise that the morning held.
Jaejoong was not prepared for the scene that awaited him in Yunho’s room. Yunho was sitting up in his bed, arms crossed and an angry scowl on his face. There was a pale pink bucket over turned on the floor and a few towels thrown about the room.
“Yunho, are you okay? What happened?” Jaejoong rushed to Yunho’s side.
“Some bitch came in here, woke me up and tried to strip me.” Yunho said angrily. “I haven’t even had breakfast yet.”
“So, you kicked her out?”
“She wouldn’t listen to me. She just kept insisting that it was her job and kept trying to unbutton my shirt. So I yelled at her and knocked the bucket off the table. She just made me so mad.”
“It’s okay. I’ll go talk to the nurses and see about breakfast for you. We’re in no rush this morning.”
At the nurses’ station Jaejoong encountered an upset looking nurses’ aid and an angry looking nurse.
“Oh, Mr. Kim. I’m glad you’re here. Is Yunho alright?” the nurse asked looking up from a chart.
“He’s a little upset. What happened this morning?”
“It’s in Yunho’s chart that he’s to get a bed-bath this morning. I didn’t realize it would upset him so much. I’m sorry. I should have been the one to go in there.”
“Alright. I just wanted to know what happened. I’ll get him some breakfast and try to talk to him.”
Jaejoong returned to Yunho’s room carrying a plate of eggs and some toast. “Hey you,” he said softly.
“Hi. Did I over react?” Yunho lowered his head, feeling a little ashamed.
“No. I wouldn’t want to wake up to someone trying to bathe me. But you do need to let the nurse do her job.”
Yunho sneered, “there is a bathroom right over there. Can’t I just take a normal shower?”
“And what if you pass out and hit your head. You could get really hurt. Just let the nurse help you. You may be feeling better, but you’re going to be weak for a few days. You’re severely malnourished and pretty badly beat up. We aren’t doing this to be cruel, Yunho. We’re doing this to help you.”
“I don’t want anyone touching me.” Yunho ate his breakfast slowly.
“I’ll talk to the nurse. Maybe we can figure something out.”
Yunho watched as Jaejoong left the room. He sat in the quiet room, feeling incredibly uncomfortable and nervous. He continued to pick at his breakfast as he waited for Jaejoong to return.
Jaejoong returned a few minutes later with an armful of fresh towels. “Here’s the deal, you can shower yourself; but you have to use a the shower chair and I have to be in the room with you.”
Yunho nodded slowly. He was starting to get a headache, but didn’t want to worry Jaejoong.
“Junsu will be in shortly to take the IV out. Are you okay?”
“My head hurts,” Yunho shut his eyes against the light that was beginning to bother him.
“I’ll have Junsu bring you a painkiller. You’ve been on all kinds of meds this week and as your body is metabolizing them you’re going to be feeling different pain.”
Yunho nodded again. They waited for Junsu to arrive to remove the IV. If Yunho had it his way he would just rip it out of his own hand. His whole hand was in pain and he could feel the needle moving around in the vein. It was the oddest and most unnerving sensation he ever felt.
“Good morning,” Junsu was impossibly chipper in the morning, no matter how late he worked the night before. “How are you feeling, Yunho?”
“Okay. I have a headache.”
“I’ll bring you something for that. Let’s get that IV out, shall we?”
“Oh god yes!” Yunho nearly shouted and thrust his hand toward Junsu.
Junsu chuckled and took hold of Yunho’s hand. He carefully pulled the tape and gauze off the young boy’s hand. He tugged the skin tight and pulled the needle out. He pulled a band aid from his pocket and covered the injection mark.
Yunho sneered. “Seriously? Hello Kitty?” He stared at the pink monstrosity on his hand.
“Sorry, we’re out of regular band aids and I had to raid pediatrics.”
“I like Hello Kitty.” Jaejoong said off handedly. Yunho just stared at him.
“Can I take a shower now?”
“Sure. Do you need anything?” Junsu was all smiles as he watched Yunho practically jump out of bed. “I’ll take that as a ‘no’. Jae, I’ll get the discharge papers together for you to sign.”
“Okay.” Jaejoong followed Yunho into the bathroom.
Yunho was in the process of undressing as Jaejoong set some towels on the sink. Yunho stepped into the shower and sat on the cold plastic chair. “This sucks,” he said as he turned the water on.
“I know. But better safe than sorry. Let me know if you need anything.”
The room was quiet, save for the sound of running water and an occasional contented sigh from Yunho.
“Can you help me?” Yunho asked sheepishly. He felt himself blush, embarrassed that he needed help to bathe himself.
“What do you need?”
“Can you wash my hair?”
“Okay,” Jaejoong handed Yunho a towel to cover up with. The detachable showerhead was laying on the chair next to Yunho. ‘That’s convenient’ Jaejoong thought as he began to wet Yunho’s hair. Jaejoong ran his fingers through Yunho’s shoulder length hair. “We should get your hair cut soon.”
“No! I mean; I like my hair long.” Yunho closed his eyes as Jaejoong began to massage his scalp. It felt so good to have some one take care of him.
“Hey, no falling asleep,” Jaejoong teased gently.
“No. It just feels really good.”
“It’s been a while, huh? Since you were taken care of?” Jaejoong rinse the soapy lather from Yunho’s hair.
“Yeah, I guess. I’m one of Saiji’s oldest, so the others kind of… I basically took care of the younger kids, when I could.”
Jaejoong squirmed, unnerved by that statement. Yunho was only 15 years old. Jaejoong didn’t even want to think about the ages of the other children in Saiji’s ‘care’.
Jaejoong combed the conditioner through Yunho’s hair with his fingers. “Hand me the wash cloth and I’ll wash your back.”
As Jaejoong washed Yunho’s back, he began to notice patterns to the scars. “Yunho, what happened to you?” Jaejoong asked, tears choking him slightly.
“What do you mean?” Yunho tensed.
“Did someone… Carve words into your back?”
“Uhm, yeah. It’s a popular punishment for Saiji and some of our clients. So we remember.”
“Remember what?” Jaejoong asked, even though he was terrified of the answer.
“So we remember what we are. Saiji likes to brand us, in a way.”
Jaejoong traced a few of the words; whore, slut, fag. He felt anger boil though his veins. What kind of sick person would do this to a child?
He rinsed Yunho’s hair of the conditioner and stood, handing the boy a fresh towel. He was just about to open the door when he heard Yunho call for him.
Moving faster than he ever thought he could, he caught Yunho before he fell to the floor.
“Sorry. I’m really sorry.” Yunho stuttered.
“Are you okay? What happened?” Jaejoong helped Yunho sit on the edge of the tub.
“I don’t know. I stood up and just felt really light-headed all of a sudden.”
Jaejoong grabbed another towel and dried Yunho’s hair before helping him put on the tee shirt Jaejoong brought with him. Jaejoong handed Yunho a pair of boxers and pants. “Are you okay to stand?” Jaejoong asked, one arm around Yunho’s shoulders.
“I think so. You don’t have to help me.” Yunho replied, but gripped Jaejoong’s arm tightly.
“I don’t want you to fall.”
Yunho decided it was easier not to argue. And it was comforting to be able to hold on to Jaejoong for support.
“Can you walk to the bed?”
“I think so,” Yunho nodded slowly, still a little light headed.
Jaejoong sat next to Yunho and searched the bed side table for a hair brush. He knew Sooin stocked the room with the need essentials. He pulled the brush through Yunho’s hair slowly. Jaejoong tied Yunho’s hair back in a loose French braid.
“Thank you. Where did you learn how to braid?” Yunho played with the end of his hair.
“I’ve been Sooin’s hair stylist and make up artist for years.” Jaejoong laughed. He patted Yunho’s hair gently. “How’s your head feeling?”
“Okay. I’ll be better when I get a pain killer.”
Junsu entered the room a short time later, pushing a wheelchair in front of him. “I brought you some aspirin. Jae, will you sign these form?”
“Sure.” Jaejoong scanned the paperwork and signed quickly.
“You can fill the ’scripts at the pharmacy down stairs.” Junsu looked over the paperwork. “Everything should be set. You’re free to go whenever you’d like.”
Yunho swallowed the aspirin with out water and stood up quickly. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”
“Okay. Sit here.” Junsu pushed the wheelchair closer to Yunho.
“You have to leave in the chair.” Junsu smiled kindly.
“Yeah… About that. I don’t think so. I’d rather walk out on my own feet.”
“Sorry. Hospital policy.”
Yunho looked to Jaejoong for support. “I’ll wheel you out, Yunho. It will be okay.”
“This is bullshit.” Yunho muttered as he sat in the chair. Jaejoong knelt in front of him and caressed his cheek slowly.
“You know, by all rights you shouldn’t be alive right now. It’s a miracle you made it this far. I think you can handle a short wheelchair ride to my car,” Jaejoong said, his voice low and kind. “Just let me take care of you. Okay?”
Yunho nodded. He understood just how close he had come to death. He looked into Jaejoong’s eyes. He always expected to find disgust, anger, lust in them; instead he saw kindness and compassion. It was odd for him, to be cared about without the person wanting something from him. Yunho reached for Jaejoong’s hand, entwining their fingers together.
“I’m going to be okay?” Yunho sniffed slightly.
“You’re going to be perfectly fine.” Jaejoong leaned forward and kissed Yunho’s forehead. “Let’s go home.”
Yunho’s eyes shot up at those three words. ‘Let’s go home’. He liked the sound of those words. He knew he couldn’t fuck up his chance at a real home. He remained quiet as Jaejoong wheeled him down the hallway.
Yunho only half listened when they stopped at the pharmacy to pick a rather large amount of prescriptions. He was lost in his own thoughts; wondering how his life is going to be now. He was still suspicious of Jaejoong’s true intentions. But he figured something was better than nothing. If everything went to shit, he could always run away; it would be nothing new to him.
He was so lost in his own thoughts, he didn’t realize they were already at Jaejoong’s car. Yunho has always really liked Jaejoong’s car, modest and reliable with the tiniest hit of flashiness. Much like Jaejoong himself. He climbed into the passenger’s seat under the watchful eye of Jaejoong.
The drive was silent until Jaejoong’s phone rang, causing Yunho to jump in shock.
“Sorry,” Jaejoong smiled kindly. “Yeah? Oh, how’s it going Yoochun?”
“Good. You bringing Yunho home now?”
“Yeah. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing pressing. How are you doing?”
“Fine. Yoochun, you’re kinda freaking me out.”
“I’m just checking in on you and Yunho. I care.” Yoochun forced himself to keep his voice calm.
“You sound really off. Tell me what’s wrong.”
“I can’t just now. Don’t worry about it.”
“Yoochun. Now you’re really freaking me out. Tell me what’s wrong.”
“I’ll tell you tonight at dinner. Just don’t pick up the phone unless I call you,” Yoochun said warningly.
“Just trust me.”
“I love you.” Jaejoong replied softly.
“Love ya, too.”
Jaejoong turned to speak to Yunho and found him to be asleep, face pressed against the window, arms crossed on his chest. Jaejoong smiled at the sight. For as much as Yunho went through, he was still a resilient kid.
Jaejoong pulled into his driveway and tried to wake the sleeping boy to no avail. Yunho stayed fast asleep so Jaejoong had only one option; to carry Yunho into the house. He settled Yunho on the sofa; the young boy barely stirred from his sleep.
Jaejoong placed Yunho’s medications neatly in the cupboard and pinned the corresponding instructions to the refrigerator. He sat at the kitchen table to go through his mail from the past week and tried to work on some paper work. He couldn’t concentrate; his conversation with Yoochun weighing heavily on his mind.
A low whimper from the living drew Jaejoong’s attention away from his work. Yunho was crying in his sleep from some unseen nightmare. Jaejoong sat on the floor and took hold of Yunho’s hand. Yunho awoke with a start at the contact. “Jaejoong?” he asked, voice stuck in his throat behind unshed tears.
“It’s okay, Yunho. I’m right here.”
“I was having a nightmare. It was about my dad.”
“Do you want to talk about it?” Jaejoong asked slowly. He didn’t want to push Yunho too much.
“Not really.” Yunho changed the subject quickly. “Why am I so tired all the time?”
“You’re recovering, healing. You’re going to get worn out quickly for a while. Don’t worry about it too much. Okay? I’m here to take care of you.”
Yunho nodded. He watched Jaejoong stand and go into the large kitchen. He was mesmerized as he followed Jaejoong’s movements. Everything the older man did fascinated Yunho. Jaejoong’s movements were graceful and swift.
“What are you making?” Yunho asked as he took a seat at the island in the middle of the kitchen.
“Raspberry pie. It’s Yoochun’s favorite. He’ll be here for supper. Is there anything special you want.”
“Anything you make will be fine.”
“Alright.” Jaejoong smiled, happy that Yunho had joined him in the kitchen.
Yunho shivered noticeably and wrapped his arms around himself.
“You’re cold?” Jaejoong asked. Yunho nodded in response. “Okay, wait here.”
Yunho watched Jaejoong go up stairs to his room and return with a fluffy looking dark green button-up sweater.
“It might be a little big,” Jaejoong said as he wrapped the sweater around Yunho.
“You don’t have to be so nice.” Yunho pulled the sweater tighter around him. Jaejoong must have worn it recently because it still smelt like the older man. Yunho enjoyed the warmth of the sweater.
“I just want you to be happy. Is that so wrong?”
Yunho blushed and pulled the collar of the sweater up to hide his face. Jaejoong chuckled as he passed Yunho a mug of tea. He want back to making the pie; anything to get his mind off of the disturbing conversation with Yoochun.
Jaejoong put the pie in the oven. He opened a large recipe book looking for the perfect dish to make for dinner. He chose a simple recipe and gathered all the ingredients. “Will you chop these for me?” Jaejoong handed Yunho a couple cucumbers.
The two were quiet as they prepared the meal together with the silence only being broken when Yunho asked a question about what to do next. It was an odd slice of normalcy that Yunho hadn’t realized he missed.
He hadn’t even realized how much he craved a normal life. After his father’s accident he shut down and became with-drawn; from his mother especially. Guilt overwhelmed him as he watched Jaejoong. Yunho thought about all the times he sat in the kitchen, watching his mother cook and telling her about his day.
Yunho was so lost in his thoughts he failed to notice the knock on the door or Jaejoong leave the kitchen. He didn’t notice anything until he heard Jaejoong calling his name.
“Yunho. I need you to run upstairs to my bathroom and grab the first aid kit.” Jaejoong said in a near panic as he helped Yoochun to a chair. It looked like he had been in a serious fight.
The first aid kit was easy to locate. He stayed calm as he pulled a chair in front of Yoochun and began to clean the wounds on his hands with peroxide. Jaejoong took a step back, just watching Yunho as he administered first aid quickly and efficiently.
Yoochun winced as Yunho cleaned a long cut near his eye.
“Sorry,” Yunho whispered. “I don’t think you’ll need any stitches, which is good.”
“Yoochun? What happened?” Jaejoong poured all three of them glasses of water.
“I needed answers and they weren’t easy to get. Ow!”
“Sorry. You have glass in your face. I have to get it out.” Yunho picked up a pair of tweezers and examined Yoochun’s face. He plucked the small pieces of glass out of Yoochun’s face. “I think I got them all.”
Jaejoong ran a damp cloth over Yoochun’s face, cleaning up the dried blood and checking for bits of glass. “You’re really good at this.”
Yunho shrugged, “I guess. There shouldn’t be any scars.” He subconsciously touched the scar under his eye.
“Yoochun, what happened? And don’t be cryptic about your answers.”
“I told you. I needed answers and they weren’t easy to get. I can’t tell you right now. It’s better if you don’t know what happened.” Yoochun took hold of Yunho’s hand. “Thank you for fixing me up.” Yunho smiled shyly in response.
“I don’t like what you’re doing,” Jaejoong scolded.
“It’ll be fine Jae. Just don’t worry about it.” Yoochun pulled Jaejoong into a tight hug. Jaejoong smiled sadly at his friend. He knew Yoochun was right.
“I really need you to stop scaring me like this.” Jaejoong bent down slightly and gently kissed Yoochun’s lips. Even though it was a quick, simple kiss; Yunho felt a pang of jealousy as he watched them. He felt guilty about the jealously, knowing how close Yoochun and Jaejoong were.
‘I shouldn’t feel like this,’ he thought to himself. ‘Who am I but run away whore? I shouldn’t even bee here.’
“Yunho.” Jaejoong’s voice snapped Yunho out of his thoughts.
“Sorry. I was just thinking.”
“It’s okay. I was saying dinner’s almost ready if you can get some plates, I’ll bring it everything to the table.”
Yunho nodded and grabbed plates chopsticks. As he set them down on the table he stared at Yoochun.
“You alright?” Yoochun asked.
“Yeah,” Yunho blushed and turned away.
“We’ll talk later.” Yoochun squeezed Yunho’s hand gently, “when Jae’s not around.”
Jaejoong served everyone and they ate in silence. Jaejoong was happy as he looked around the table. Yunho was adjusting surprisingly well. And quickly. Jaejoong knew he was right; Yunho just needed love, kindness, and a safe home.
“Jae, what are you doing?” Yoochun asked as he watched Jaejoong begin to clear the table. “Go sit down. Yunho and I will take care of the dishes.”
“Okay. You come and sit down if you get too tired okay, Yunho.” Jaejoong ran his hand through Yunho’s hair. Yunho nodded in response.
“I wash, you dry,” Yoochun said and handed Yunho a towel.
Yunho was careful at avoiding eye-contact with Yoochun. They made quick work of the dishes.
“Okay,” Yunho replied lowly.
“I know you’re infatuated with Jaejoong. It’s understandable; he’s one hell of a sexy guy…”
“I get it. You and him are together. I haven’t done anything or even tried.”
“What? No. Me and Jae, no. That would be like incest.”
“But he kissed you. And you didn’t seem all that upset about it.
“That’s just the way Jae is.” Yoochun sighed slightly, “listen. Jaejoong is a very loving, caring person. I don’t want you to be confused or heartbroken. Don’t mistake Jae’s kindness and compassion for romantic love. He loves you, the way he loves me or the way he love Junsu.”
“I think I know what’s going on in my life. Probably better then you,” Yunho replied, defensively.
“Yunho, you are very young. And you’ve been through more than anyone should have to go through. Please, trust me. Don’t hate me. And don’t hate Jae if things don’t turn out the way you think they will. That would just about kill him.”
“I’m not stupid.”
“I know. You’re a good kid. A smart kid. That’s why I knew you would understand me.”
“Uhm… Thanks, I guess. I mean, maybe.”
Jaejoong entered the kitchen before either of them could say anything else.
“What is taking you two so long?”
“We were talking about raiding your freezer for ice cream.” Yoochun replied and dramatically pulled open the freezer door. “Really Jae? Plain vanilla is all you have?”
“I’m not a big fan of ice cream. You know that.”
“Yeah, but with how much Junsu is over here, I thought you’d have more.”
“Shut up and make sundaes or get the hell out of my kitchen.” Jaejoong scolded Yoochun, but smiled at Yunho.
Yunho smiled back. He let Yoochun’s words sink in a bit. Maybe he loved Jaejoong. Maybe he loved the idea of Jaejoong. Maybe he loved the idea of having a safe home and a loving family.