Yoochun left shortly after the trio finished their sundaes.
“Everything is going to be just fine, Jae. So stop worrying so much.” Yoochun said as they walked to the door.
“I know. Deep down, I know. Take care of yourself.” Jaejoong pulled Yoochun into a tight hug.
“Don’t worry about me,” Yoochun whispered softly into Jaejoong’s hair.
Jaejoong returned to the kitchen to find Yunho clearing the table and getting ready to wash the dishes.
“You can leave those. I’ll clean up in the morning.”
“Okay,” Yunho turned off the water and stood by the sink, feeling awkward.
“Come here, Yunho.” Jaejoong sat on chair and held out his hands. Yunho hesitated. “It’s okay, come here.”
Yunho moved slowly, gripping Jaejoong’s hand lightly. He stared at the older man, attempting to figure out what Jaejoong wanted.
“Are you doing okay? Today wasn’t too stressful, was it?” Jaejoong asked. He pulled Yunho a little closer.
“I’m fine, I guess,” Yunho avoided eye contact and lowered his head, his hair falling into his face.
Jaejoong tilted his head slightly to see under the curtain for Yunho’s hair. “What’s wrong?”
Yunho turned his head away. “Nothing,” he lied.
“Hey, I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me,” Jaejoong said sweetly, trying to put Yunho at ease.
“Really, it’s nothing. I’m just really tired. I think I’d like to go to bed now.”
“Alright. I have to change your bandage, so let’s go do that.”
Yunho nodded. “Uhm… Jaejoong?”
“Never… Never mind. It’s stupid.”
“Nothing you say or need is stupid.”
“Can I… Can I have a hug?”
“Of course,” Jaejoong smiled brightly and pulled Yunho into a reassuring hug. Yunho rested his head against Jaejoong’s chest. Jaejoong rubbed Yunho’s back tenderly, knowing the extent of the bruising that covered the young boy’s body.
Yunho closed his eyes and relaxed against Jaejoong. He was reluctant to let go, but he was tired enough that he could fall asleep standing up.
Jaejoong guided Yunho up the stairs to the bathroom and had him sit on the edge of the tub. Yunho left an unfamiliar awkwardness as he removed his shirt, his eyes on Jaejoong’s every move.
Jaejoong arranged everything he would need and sat down next to Yunho. He pulled back the bandage carefully and examined the would. “It’s a little red, but it doesn’t look infected. Does it still hurt a lot?”
Yunho shook his head. “It itches a bit. And pulls if I move the wrong way.” Yunho hissed as Jaejoong applied the antibacterial ointment.
“Sorry,” Jaejoong said as he recovered the wound. “All done.”
Jaejoong pulled Yunho into another tight embrace. “I’m right down the hall if you need anything.”
Yunho nodded and crawled into his bed. It was the softest bed he had slept in a long time. He tried to stay awake for as long as he could. He wanted to enjoy the warmth and softness for a long time. The small window was opened a crack to let in the cool early spring breeze.
Yunho contemplated closing and locking the window for a moment; but the smell from the garden on the wind was too pleasant. And no one knew where he was anyway.
Early the next morning Jaejoong was awoken by his ringing like mad. He fumbled looking for it on the nightstand.
“Yeah?” he said, groggy and still half asleep.
“Fuck you, Yoochun. What time is it?”
“A little after 6. I’m coming over with files, coffee and croissants.”
“No. I’m going back to sleep.”
“You can’t. I have about 27 files that I need help going through. I need you to help.”
“You know it’s Sunday right? And I’ve had a week from hell. And I’m now supporting an emotionally and physically abused child that probably shouldn’t see anything that’s in those 27 files that you are insisting on bringing to my house.”
“I kinda need Yunho’s help as well. These are files of some suspects and I need to know if Yunho recognizes any of them.”
“No. Not today Yoochun. He needs to rest and heal. He doesn’t need the trauma of seeing a photo of his rapist.”
“It’s going to be difficult, but I need to talk to him while the memory is still fresh. I had to jump through hoops to get special permission to work on this case. I won’t push him too hard. But Jae we need to do this today.”
“I hate you. You’re right and I hate you,” Jaejoong sighed.
“I still love you. I’ll be over in a bit.” Once again Yoochun hung up before Jaejoong could reply.
Jaejoong stretched and yawned. For a moment he considered going to the kitchen to start breakfast, but that would be pointless. Instead he just dressed in jeans and a comfortable polo shirt.
He gathered up his laptop and a few files and set them on the kitchen table. He checked his email and waited for Yoochun to arrive. He wasn’t surprised that he had about 30 messages from work. He had a long list of clients waiting to see him on Tuesday.
It wasn’t long before Yoochun was sitting across from Jaejoong as he poured through the files. Yoochun had grossly under stated how many files he brought with him. Jaejoong felt over whelmed at the sight of nearly 40 thick khaki colored folders sitting in front of him. Each folder had a name written on it and a picture clipped to the inside cover.
“Cruel? I know. I hate to put Yunho through this, but we have to stop this guy before he kills another kid.” Yoochun ran his hand through his hair in frustration.
It was nearly 11 before Yunho stumbled down the stairs and wandered into the dining room. He waved timidly to Jaejoong and Yoochun.
“Morning. Sleep well?”
Yunho nodded. He felt awkward, not knowing what to do. Should he sit at the table or go sit in the living room?
“There’s coffee and some croissants, if you’re interested,” Yoochun held out a paper cup of coffee. “It’s a little cold now so pop it in the microwave for about 2 minutes.”
“Thanks.” Yunho heated the coffee and stood behind the island, sipping it slowly.
“Yunho,” Jaejoong said softly, unsure about how to approach the sensitive topic. “We need your help. But if at anytime you feel uncomfortable and want to stop, you tell us, ok.”
“Okay.” Yunho sat in the chair that Jaejoong pulled out for him.
“We need you to look through these files with us and tell us if anyone look familiar to you.” Yoochun explained.
“This is about that john isn’t it?” Yunho pulled a folder to him. “I’ve never seen him before.” His voiced wavered with fear.
Jaejoong placed his hand on Yunho’s shoulder. He didn’t want to traumatize the poor child anymore than he already was. Jaejoong knew Yunho was in a delicate state of mental health.
“If you want to stop…”
“No. I’m okay. Most of these guys here; yeah, I know them. It’s not hard to. Saiji has people all over the place. Runners and such. But that guy. He didn’t seem like he lived here. He seemed almost too normal. Like he was nervous or shy about seeing me.”
Yoochun placed a tape recorder on the table. “I need to bring you back to that night. You need to remember as much detail as you can. You’re safe here and he can’t hurt anymore. Memories can’t hurt you and they can help saves other people,” Yoochun said softly. “Start from the beginning of your day.”
“I… I don’t know if I can do this.” Yunho whimpered slightly.
“I’m right here with you. It’ll be okay and we can stop when ever you want to.” Jaejoong wrapped his arm around Yunho and looked up at Yoochun, practically begging him not to do this.
“It’s very important to stay relaxed. Just remember; you’re safe, okay. Just think about what happened that day.”
Yunho took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “I woke up around noon I think,” he started slowly. “Jiyong was still asleep next to me. He was shivering, so I gave him my sweater. Saiji came into the room. He slammed the door behind him. He… He pushed Ji off the bed and laid down next me.”
“Good. Good, keep going. What happened next?” Yoochun prompted carefully.
“Ji stayed on the floor. He was whimpering a little. He hurt his wrist when he fell. Saiji hugged me from behind. He was already drinking by then. He… Uhm he was humping me a bit. I knew he didn’t want anything through. He rarely ever did.” Yunho hiccupped and choked back his tears. He wasn’t going to crack. He was going to be strong.
“It’s alright, Yunho. I’m right here,” Jaejoong whispered into Yunho’s ear softly. He tightened his hold on Yunho’s shoulders. “Do you want to stop?”
Yunho took several deep breaths, trying to steady himself. “I think I’m okay. He gave me my assignment. It was different from my normal area. It was a different crowd of people. A richer area. He left a vial and Ji’s assignment on the night stand. I think he kicked Ji before he left. I just heard him whimper again and the door slam. Jiyong climbed back into bed after Saiji left.”
“What area did you work? Do you remember the street names or landmarks?”
“Not really. There was a big posh-looking playground next to a row of expensive stores. The john picked me up from in front of the play ground. He was driving a really old but nice car. I think it was blue. I couldn’t really tell if it was blue or black. He was maybe 40, 50 years old. He seemed younger though, because of how shy he acted. He took me to a great hotel. He just threw is money around.”
“Do you remember what kind of car? Or the plate number?”
“No, sorry I… I don’t remember,” Yunho choked back tears. He felt he wasn’t being helpful at all. He could barely remember anything of that night.
“That’s okay. How did you get to your area?”
Jaejoong cringed as Yoochun asked the questions. He wasn’t naïve; he knew there was evil in the world. He knew it lived right outside his door, but hearing it from the mouth of a teenager was almost unbearable.
“I walked. It took me, maybe 20 minutes to get there.”
“What happened when you got to the hotel?”
Yunho hung his head, tears falling freely. “Please. Don’t. Please…”
“Do you want to stop now, Yunho?” Jaejoong tried to comfort the boy. All Yunho could do was nod. Jaejoong looked at Yoochun questioningly.
“Okay. We’ll stop for today. You’ve been very helpful Yunho, thank you. You’re very brave for doing this.” Yoochun reached out to pat Yunho’s shoulder; he pulled away from Yoochun’s touch, as if the touch would burn.
Yunho buried his head into Jaejoong’s shoulder, sobbing, hiccupping and shaking. Jaejoong tried to calm Yunho down, whispering softly. Yunho shook harder, his breath becoming short and labored. It felt like his chest was caving in. He couldn’t breathe; he couldn’t speak.
“Yoochun, will you get me the bottle with the blue pills in it and a glass of water?”
“Is he okay?”
“He will be. Yunho? You need to take this okay.” Jaejoong held a small pill in his hand. Yunho was shaking so hard he couldn’t control his hands. Jaejoong popped the pill into Yunho’s mouth and held the glass as Yunho drank slowly.
It took several long minutes for Yunho to calm down enough to walk to the sofa.
“It’s okay, Yunho. It’s okay,” Jaejoong helped Yunho to the sofa and knelt in front of him, wiping the tears from his face.
Yunho eventually fell asleep on Jaejoong’s shoulder. He moved slowly, laying Yunho down on the sofa and covering him with a soft blanket.
“I’m sorry, Jae. I wasn’t expecting that… Intense of a reaction.”
“It’s okay. Junsu said it would take along time before Yunho was well enough to talk about what happened. I know how important it is to get the information, but I wonder about Yunho’s mental health.”
“I know. What I got today it helpful though. We have a starting point. I’m going to go do some leg work and bring the recording to the station. I have to get going.”
“Okay. I’ll see ya tomorrow.”
Jaejoong went back to work on his laptop as Yunho slept of the sofa. He couldn’t do much else until Yunho woke up.
At 5 Jaejoong began to prepare dinner, hoping Yunho would wake up shortly. Junsu had prescribed a very strong medication for Yunho’s panic attacks and the pills had a tendency to put Yunho to sleep for hours.
Yunho woke just as Jaejoong was finishing dinner. He yawned, his body still felt unsteady and he shook slightly.
Jaejoong was at his side in a flash. “Feeling better?”
Yunho nodded and reached for Jaejoong; needing some kind of comfort. Jaejoong hugged him gently, careful of Yunho’s wounds. Jaejoong pet Yunho’s head, smoothing his hair down where it was sticking up from sleep.
“Are you hungry?”
“Yeah,” Yunho’s voice was strained and hoarse. He was starving and the smell from the kitchen was mouth watering.
Jaejoong ushered Yunho to table and served dinner. “It’s just a simple curry. I hope you like it.” Jaejoong smiled as Yunho began to shovel the rice and chicken into his mouth. At least his appetite was healthy and he was eating. Some of the side effects of the meds he was on might affect his appetite. Jaejoong worried about that because Yunho really couldn’t afford to lose more weight.
They finished eating and Yunho excused himself to go shower. As tired as he was, he wanted to feel clean. Thinking about that horrible night and that horrible man made him feel so dirty.
The spray and heat from the shower relaxed Yunho aching muscles. He looked around the cubicle of a shower at all the different products he could choose from. Jaejoong had given him free reign of the bathroom until they went shopping to get him the essentials.
Yunho saw a small black bottle in the far corner and when he picked it up it felt very full. Popping the top open, he sniffed it cautiously. A wonderful scent filled his nose. It was subtle with hints of vanilla, some kind of spice and an under note of rose. It should have smelt girly, but it was strangely masculine. And it wasn’t want Jaejoong normally used. No, Jaejoong smelt like the forest after a rainstorm in the spring; clean and wet and woody.
As much as he wanted to stay in the warmth of the shower, he wanted the comfort of his bed even more. It dawned on him then. This was his home now. Jaejoong opened his door and heart to a him; a worthless whore.
He dressed quickly and went to find Jaejoong, who was sitting on the sofa watching the news.
“Yeah.” Yunho sat on the sofa, very close to Jaejoong. “Uhm… I wanted to say. What I mean is… Crap this isn’t coming out right.”
Jaejoong tucked Yunho’s dump hair behind his ear. “What is it?” he asked, his expression soft.
“Thank you. For everything. Since Dad… Since the accident, no one’s really cared about me like you have. I don’t deserve it, but I’m gonna try my best to make you proud.”
“Oh Yunho,” Jaejoong whispered. He pulled the child into his arms. “You’ve already made me proud today. What you did, what you are continuing to do is amazing. You are so strong.”
They stayed together for a long time, enjoying the comfort they got from each other. Jaejoong really didn’t want to move from the sofa but bed was calling for both of them. And they had a stressful day ahead of them. Jaejoong just hoped it wouldn’t be too much on Yunho. He prayed that everything would go their way and he would be granted custody of Yunho; even temporarily until they could get a working case together against Yunho’s stepfather.
Jaejoong was awake early the next day. Much earlier than he needed to be. He was nervous and his stomach was doing flips. So many things could go wrong. So very many things. They would have to proceed carefully.
He started to make breakfast, abandoning the project before he even finish getting the pans out. He knew if he attempted to eat anything he would vomit; even the thought of food made him feel sick. He put the kettle on and waited for Yunho to wake up.
Jaejoong was half way through a cup of tea before Yunho stumbled down the stairs, hair in disarray and sticking up at odd angles. He looked like he barely slept.
“Rough night?” Jaejoong quirked an eyebrow at the teenager as he plopped into a chair.
Yunho yawned and nodded. “I couldn’t get to sleep.”
“Nervous about today? Me too. Let me get you some tea. Are you hungry?”
Yunho scowled at the thought of food. He was glad Jaejoong felt as nervous as he did. He didn’t think he could handle these feelings alone. He sipped his tea and watch Jaejoong apprehensively clean the already spotless kitchen.
The morning dragged on. At noon Yunho began to feel antsy. He couldn’t stop moving around. He tried reading one of the many books Jaejoong owned. He tried listening to music. Nothing seemed to calm his nerves.
It didn’t help that Jaejoong was on edge as well. He spent the morning in the kitchen, baking. He made 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies, 2 dozen peanut butter cookies and was working on a loaf of bread when Yunho plopped down on a stool beside the island.
“Here, knead this. It will give you something to do with your hands.”
“I’m really scared,” Yunho confessed.
“I know. I am too. But remember what I said.”
“You’ll fight for me?”
“Until I die.” Jaejoong moved to where Yunho was sitting. He smoothed down Yunho’s hair and gave him a tender kiss on the forehead. “Go get washed up and changed. I want to be at the courthouse to talk to Changmin.”
Jaejoong stood nervously in front of his closet; dressing slowly in dark grey slacks and a dark blue shirt. He had never been this nervous before a case. Of course he had never had so much to lose. Or gain.
Jaejoong walked down the hall to Yunho’s room and knocked of the door lightly. Pressing his ear to the door he heard a muffled, strained ‘come in’.
“Ready?” Jaejoong asked as he sat on the corner of Yunho’s bed.
Yunho shook his head, looking forlornly at the light blue t-shirt in his hands. Jaejoong recognized it as one he owned in high school.
“Is it too big for you?”
“Not really.” Yunho couldn’t register how he was feeling. There was a tangled mix of emotions in the pit of his stomach that he couldn’t ignore or rightly name.
“Come sit down. Let’s talk.”
Yunho quickly pulled the shirt on and sat next to Jaejoong. He stared at his hands, unsure of how to speak to the kind, older man.
“I’m just… Really scared. I think, and I’m worried about what the judge is going to ask me. And facing my stepfather again. I don’t know if I can do this,” he said slowly, twisting his hands together.
Jaejoong didn’t speak. He let Yunho’s words fall between them; let Yunho process his feelings and thoughts.
Yunho moved closer to Jaejoong and rested his head on the older man’s shoulder. He was still so unsure about everything. Still so scared of what might happen.
“You’re very strong and very brave,” Jaejoong said after a long time. “And I’m very proud of you. No one is going to hurt you.” Jaejoong wrapped his around Yunho in a tentative embrace.
It was a short drive from Jaejoong’s apartment to the courthouse. Yunho was practically shaking from the fear coursing though his body. He and Jaejoong sat in the car for a long time while he tried to control his emotions.
Jaejoong held Yunho’s hand as they walked into the courthouse. There was a small family waiting room across from the family law office. They sat there and waited for Changmin to come and give them instructions and prepare Yunho for the questions that were going to be asked.
It was a quick briefing; Changmin was confident that the judge would side with Jaejoong. Honestly, how could a judge not grant custody to Jaejoong?
Yunho clutched Jaejoong’s hand harder and whimpered, shrinking into Jaejoong’s side.
“Yunho, what’s wrong?” Jaejoong turned just as two people walked by. One of them had to be Kyujin and the other his lawyer. Jaejoong wrapped a protective arm around Yunho, hushing him gently.
A few moments later they were called into the judge’s chambers. Kyujin and his lawyer were seated near the window. Jaejoong, Yunho and Changmin took their seats and waited for the judge to start.
“This hearing will be quick. Mr. Shim, do you have the paperwork?”
“Yes, Your Honor.” Changmin handed the judge a manila folder. The judge was silent as he looked over the case file Changmin had put together. Jaejoong’s heart was in his throat as he watched the judge’s face for any hint as to what the man was thinking.
“Your Honor, we’ve prepared statements as well. Along with a letter from the boy’s biological mother,” the lawyer stressed ‘biological’. The folder was twice as thick as the one Changmin had.
“There will be a 15 minute recess as I read over these and make my decision.”
Jaejoong and Yunho sat in the family as they waited for the judge’s decision. Yunho shook like a leaf as Jaejoong tried to comfort him.