Jaejoong and Changmin stared at each other.
“What do you mean?” Changmin asked, placing his hand on Jiyong’s shoulder.
“That night. Yunho called me from a payphone. He said he had money for me and Saiji. He asked me to bring something to help him calm down.” Jiyong stared at the floor. “He said he was fine. That he just wanted to rest. I didn’t… I didn’t know he was hurt. I should have known better. Yunho hated that Saiji forced us to take the drugs. He almost never asked for them.” Jiyong’s voice wavered as he held back tears.
“It’s okay, Jiyong,” Changmin said. “You’re helping us a lot right now. When did Saiji realize Yunho wasn’t around?”
“About a week ago. Maybe. He didn’t really care. Well, kinda. Yunho was one of his biggest money makers. I think Saiji just figured Yunho died.”
“So, Saiji isn’t looking for Yunho?” Jaejoong asked.
“I don’t think so. He mentions him once and a while, but more in passing than anything else.” Jiyong sniffled, tears falling freely now.
“Are you hurt? Do you need to go to the hospital?” Jaejoong rubbed Jiyong’s arm.
“No. I’m okay. Really tired though.”
“Okay. There’s a spare bed upstairs. Changmin, can you show him? I need to make a phone call.”
Changmin nodded and took hold of Jiyong’s arm, leading him kindly. Jaejoong watched them walk up the stairs and into Yunho’s bedroom.
“Yeah?” Yoochun answered on the first ring.
“I found someone who could help us. Or rather I should say, he found me.”
“One of Yunho’s friends. He says his name is Jiyong. Yunho mentioned him before. As far as Jiyong knows, Saiji isn’t looking for him.”
“We have that going for us at least. I’ve been doing some digging. Saiji isn’t his real name…”
“Really now? And here I thought drug dealers who pimped out children would use their real names and filed taxes like the rest of the civilized world.”
“No need to get snippy, Jae. Plus you cut me off. As I was saying, Saiji isn’t his real name, but I have a lead on his identity. If I can confirm it, we can put him away for a long, long lime. Shit, the drug charges alone will get him 20.”
“I’m sorry.” Jaejoong felt ashamed of his reaction.
“I know. You’re just being a mother-hen. We’ll find him.”
“Alive,” Yoochun confirmed, comforting his the best way he could.
Jaejoong crawled back into bed. Jaejoong sighed as he curled his body around Junsu’s. Junsu rolled over to face Jaejoong.
“Is everything okay?”
“One of Yunho’s friends is here. He’s so young. I don’t think he’s older than 12. How do these kids end up like that?”
“I don’t know. Don’t try to save everyone. Jae, you can’t do it. Help get this kid the help he needs but don’t take in on yourself. You’re amazing, but you can only do so much.”
“Do you really?” Junsu moved closer and gave Jaejoong a kiss on the cheek. “Try to get some sleep.”
“What is something horrible happened to Yunho? I’ll never be able to forgive myself.”
“I know. You’ve only ever done the right thing. Go to sleep. We can figure this all out in the morning.” Junsu smoothed Jaejoong’s hair down and gently kissed his temple. “You’re such a good person Jae. And we all love you very much.”
Jaejoong laid in the darkness contemplating Junsu’s words. He couldn’t take care of every lost child in the world. He knew that. But he could help them get into safe, loving homes. He made a pact with himself; he would do all he could to help children in unsafe environments.
Jaejoong was sitting in the kitchen eating breakfast with Junsu and Changmin early the next morning. Jiyong was sleeping peacefully and Jaejoong didn’t have the heart to wake him up.
“I am amazing” Yoochun shouted as he entered the kitchen. “I am amazing and you should all worship me.”
“Pipe the fuck down Yoochun. There are people in this house still sleeping,” Junsu scolded sharply.
“Who?” Yoochun looked around the table. “That friend of Yunho?”
“Yes. The poor dear was exhausted.”
Yoochun sat in the free chair slowly. “Is he okay?”
“He seems like he’s in okay health. He’s underweight, but he wasn’t beaten nearly as badly as Yunho was.” Changmin took a slip of coffee. “Not nearly as many visible bruises.”
“So, what is our plan?”
Jaejoong passed Yoochun a mug of coffee. “I don’t know yet, but we need to help those kids.”
“But what can we do?” Junsu tapped his fingers on the table.
“Go to the police for one. Have Jiyong make a statement.”
They turned to the sound of a small ‘meep’ by the kitchen door. “Jiyong, how did you sleep?”
“Okay. Thanks for letting me stay the night. I should leave now.”
“Not on your life,” Jaejoong stood, giving his chair to Jiyong. “Sit, eat.”
Jiyong turned to Changmin, who nodded slightly. Jiyong sat and smiled when Jaejoong set a plate in front of him.
“We’re going to take care of you. You aren’t going back to Saiji. Fuck that noise. I won’t allow it,” Changmin said, somewhat forcefully. Jiyong merely stared at him.
“I’ll have a real home?” Jiyong looked hopeful. “Like, I’ll get to go to school and everything.”
“Yes. And any other child Saiji ‘cares’ for. You can help all your friends get to a safe place.”
Jiyong slid out of the chair and knelt in front of Changmin. He lowered his head, his hair covering his face. “Thank you. Thank you so much,” he sniffed back his tears.
“Come on now. Get off the floor.” Changmin pulled Jiyong to his feet. “Everything is going to alright.” He wrapped his arms around Jiyong. Changmin wanted the child to feel safe.
Jiyong nodded and hesitantly took his seat. He picked slowly at his food, acutely aware he was the only one eating.
“Don’t be shy, eat. I’m sure you’re hungry,” Jaejoong urged.
“Jae, conference in the living room,” Yoochun walked out of the room. “I have an idea. It could be dangerous though.”
“If you think you are using that little boy for some sting operation you are dead wrong.”
“He can tell us where Saiji’s house is and get the kids out of said house, then the police can arrest Saiji and anyone else involved.”
“I don’t know. That just sounds too dangerous. No. Yoochun, I don’t tell you no often, but I have to put my foot down.”
“This may be our best chance to get Saiji. And to find Yunho.”
“Don’t! Yoochun don’t even bring Yunho into this. You know, as well as I do, that Saiji doesn’t have Yunho.” Jaejoong shook with anger. “Fuck you, Yoochun. I’m not putting a kid through what ever bullshit plan you have. Figure out something else.”
“No!” Jaejoong shrugged Yoochun’s hand off his shoulder. “Don’t fucking start with me. No.”
Jaejoong stomped up the stairs and into his room. He couldn’t believe what Yoochun was asking.
He calmed himself down enough to call Mrs. Han to see if she heard anything from Yunho. They talked for a few minutes, trying to figure out other leads to Yunho’s where abouts. They kept running into dead ends. Jaejoong sighed and laid back on the bed. Jaejoong just wanted Yunho safe and home. He never felt so worried about a person as he felt about Yunho at the moment.
“Jae?” He heard Junsu knocking on the door.
“Yeah, come on in.”
“Changmin and I are gonna take Jiyong to the hospital to get him checked out. Yoochun is gonna stay here.”
“Talk to Yoochun. His idea is dangerous, but also sound. We don’t know how many children are living at Saiji’s house. But even if there is only one there, that’s too many. And Jiyong can get them out safely.” Junsu took a few tentative steps into the room. “Jaejoong?”
“You’re right. I know you’re right and Yoochun’s right.”
“You’re just scared.” Junsu walked over to the bed and sat down. He took hold of Jaejoong’s hand, squeezing gently. “It’s going to by okay. We’re all right here. Do you need anything while we are out?”
“No. Thanks Su.” He watched as Junsu left. He stared up at his ceiling contemplating Yoochun’s idea. He had such a bad feeling about the whole thing. But Junsu and Yoochun were right. As much as it pained him to even consider using Jiyong, the thought of arresting Saiji was too tempting. Jaejoong knew he had to talk to Jiyong about he felt. Jaejoong didn’t want to see the child traumatized any more than he already was.
He didn’t flinch when he felt the edge of the bed sink as Yoochun laid down next to him.
“What are our chances? Seriously.” Jaejoong didn’t look at his friend as he spoke.
“You know as well as I do, Jae. It’s only the second day…”
“But we’re probably looking for a body right now.”
“Jae…” Yoochun moved to embrace his friend.
“Don’t. Don’t touch me right now.” Jaejoong pulled away. “I just don’t know what to do.”
“We take it one step at a time. One day at a time.” Yoochun left, pulling the door halfway closed behind him. He wanted to comfort his friend, but knew Jaejoong just needed to be left alone.
Jaejoong stayed in his bed, making phone calls to everyone he could think of; his cousin, his aunt, Officer Lee, even some of the beat-cops he knew. No one had seen any sign of Yunho. It was like the child disappeared into thin air.
Jaejoong padded down to the kitchen where he found Yoochun, nursing a cup of coffee and reading a file.
“I’m missing something. I just don’t know what,” Yoochun tossed the file in his hand across the table and picked up another one. “There is some pattern or behavior I’m just not seeing here.”
Jaejoong picked up the discarded file and flipped through it. Maybe he would notice what Yoochun was missing.
He didn’t. All he saw were young boys, taken from the world before they had the chance to prove themselves. He set the file down and moved to stand behind Yoochun. They kept silent as Jaejoong massaged Yoochun’s shoulders. “You’ll figure it out. I trust you.”
“This isn’t about trust, Jaejoong.” Jaejoong flinched when Yoochun used his full name, knowing how serious his friend was. “There is a lot going on. We need solid plans on how to proceed forward. We need to find Yunho. And we need to arrest Saiji.”
“I know. I overreacted earlier and I’m sorry. I just… I’m having a hard time justifying putting a child in danger to arrest a drug-dealing pimp.”
“I know. But this could be our only chance. I would never do anything to put a child in harm’s way. And if there are other children in that house, they’ll trust Jiyong enough so he can get them out. Then I can go in with a few uniforms and make the arrests. If Jiyong can’t get the kids out, we don’t go in.”
“Simple as that?”
“Yes, simple as that.”
Jaejoong stopped moving, his hands still on Yoochun’s shoulders. “Is it really? What if something goes wrong? What if…”
“Don’t think about the what if’s. Let me worry about that,” Yoochun cut him off. Jaejoong let himself be pulled into Yoochun’s lap. He needed the comfort. He needed the reassurance. “Let’s go for a run.”
“What?” Jaejoong stared at Yoochun.
“Let’s go for a run. We haven’t been out for nearly two weeks and I know we could both use the exercise. It’ll do us good.”
“But what if Yunho comes home?”
“Leave the back door unlocked. You told him about the spare key, right? If he does make it home today, he’ll probably go up to your room and crash.”
Jaejoong contemplated Yoochun’s offer for a moment before agreeing. “I have to do something first. Give me 10 minutes to do it and change.”
Jaejoong ran fast. Faster that Yoochun could and he struggled to keep up with his friend. They ran the long trail around the park twice before Jaejoong let them stop and rest. Yoochun fumble through his pockets looking for his inhaler.
“I wanted to go for a jog, an easy run to relax,” he complained between puffs.
“Sorry. Are you alright?”
Yoochun collapsed on the bench, “yeah, I’ll be okay. Let’s just walk home, ‘kay?”
“Sure,” Jaejoong sat down next to Yoochun. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay?”
“Yeah. I just need to catch my breath.”
They walked back slowly. Jaejoong kept his eyes peeled, searching for any sign of Yunho. He felt helpless.
“It’s going to be okay,” Yoochun said.
“I know. I just wish there was some thing else I can do.”
“What about that contact you have?”
“He hasn’t gotten back to me yet. He said he could get any information I wanted, but it’s going to take time.”
“We just have to keep looking.” Yoochun opened the door to Jaejoong’s apartment.
Jaejoong walked into kitchen. There was a light blinking on his answering machine, indicating a new message. He pressed the play button and listened as pulled out two bottles of water.
“Jae… I need. Help me, please.” Yunho’s voice was weak through the crackle of the answering machine. “Come… Please.”
The message was cut off with a loud boom. Jaejoong dropped the bottles, stunned and shaking.
“Jae? Jae, what happened?” Yoochun cupped Jaejoong’s face, turning his head to look him in the eyes. “Jaejoong!?”
Jaejoong stared at nothing. He was in shock; he collapsed into Yoochun’s arms. “I wasn’t here. He called and I wasn’t here.”
“It’s okay. It’s okay. Listen. I’m gonna take the tape to the station and get it analyzed. Okay? We’ll find him.”
“He sounded hurt. I wasn’t here for him. I could have done something.” Jaejoong’s voice was completely void of emotion.
“We’ll find. We’ll put a tap on your phone in case he calls again.” Yoochun rubbed Jaejoong’s arms. “He didn’t run away; we know that much. We’ll find who took him.”
Jaejoong nodded slowly. His legs felt numb and he knew he couldn’t walk.
“Jae? Come with me, you need to sit down.” Yoochun guided Jaejoong to the sofa and eased him down. Jaejoong shook violently as he sat. He couldn’t breathe.
It felt like hours passed for Jaejoong, though he knew it had only been a few minutes. He watched Yoochun talk on the phone without hearing him.
A few moments later Yoochun was kneeling on the floor in front of Jaejoong. “Are you going to be alright?”
“I don’t… I think so.” Jaejoong’s reply was slow, like he didn’t trust his mouth to work properly. “Yunho called me. He didn’t call the police. He called me.”
“We don’t know that he didn’t. I have some one looking through the dispatch calls now. He’s going to pull anything that might be Yunho.” Yoochun caressed Jaejoong’s cheek, hoping to calm him down. “Just calm yourself down. Yunho will be okay. He’s strong and resourceful. He got a hold of a phone once, he could do it again.”
“If I had been here…”
“You wouldn’t have been able to do anything. With the tape we can run it through analysis and listen to back ground noise and see if there are any other people there. We’ll have a better chance of finding him with the tape.”
Jaejoong stared at Yoochun for a moment. “I know you’re right. I just wish I was here. So he would know that I’m looking for him and care about him.”
“I know.” Yoochun pulled Jaejoong into a tight hug. He littered soft kisses on Jaejoong’s cheek and forehead. “I know, Jae. Just keep yourself together, okay. For Yunho. You can’t break down yet.”
Jaejoong nodded. He felt sick to his stomach, afraid that any movement would cause him to completely lose it. He let himself feel Yoochun’s arms around him and Yoochun’s lips on his face.
“Are you going to okay here by yourself? Do you want me to call Changmin and Junsu?”
“I’ll be alright. I’m just going to lay down here.” Jaejoong relaxed into the sofa. Everything around him felt so unreal.
“Okay. I’m gonna go to the station to see if there’s anything I can do on that end. I’ll call Junsu on the way there and see when they’ll be back. They might have to bring Jiyong to the station. If there are other voices on the recording, he may be able to ID them.”
Jaejoong nodded. “Yoochun?”
“I’m sorry. I treat you like a dick and I think it’s because I’ve known you the longest and loved you the most. This whole thing is just… Hard. I keep thinking about my parents. And what would have happened to me if I didn’t have Auntie to take care of me and just keep thinking, I could have ended up like Yunho and Jiyong. And then I think about how unfair it is that they have to go through all of this shit because adults in this world are fuckers. I’m worried about Yunho, if he lives through this… If he’s still alive now. Can he really survive this? And what about Jiyong? He’s so young and you can already see how broken he is.” Jaejoong stopped. “I’m babbling.”
Yoochun sat next to his friend, pondering what to say. He was at a loss for words so he took Jaejoong’s hand in his. “I’ll be back. I love you too, Jae. So very much.” He gave Jaejoong a quick kiss before leaving.
Jaejoong was still on the sofa when Changmin walked through the door hours later, guiding an exhausted looking Jiyong in to the apartment.
“Go get some rest Jiyong. We’ve done all we can today,” Changmin said. He watched and waited until Jiyong was in the spare bedroom. “Yoochun told us what happened. Are you okay?”
“I will be. How much does Jiyong know?”
“Only that Yunho is still alive and we may be able to find him. We have some problems with Jiyong.” Changmin took a seat next to Jaejoong.
“What kind of problems?”
“He’s 14. He’s a year younger than Yunho.”
“Shit. He looks like he’s 12.” Jaejoong glanced towards the bedroom where Jiyong was sleeping. “What else?”
“Malnutrition. We’re waiting on the results of just about every test the hospital has. Junsu’s really worried about liver damage.”
“Maybe. Junsu didn’t want to say anything like that, but I think that’s what he was thinking.” Changmin paused. “We stopped by the station to talk to Yoochun. Jiyong wants to help. In anyway he can. There are over a dozen kids living at that Saiji’s house. He actually looked hopeful when Yoochun told him the plan to get the kids out.”
“I know. I talked to Yoochun. I agree we need to get the kids and arrest Saiji. I just…”
Changmin reached out and patted Jaejoong on the shoulder. “You’re worried about those kids. I know. A lot can go wrong with a sting like this. Yoochun explained more of the plan to me. You and a social worker will be waiting in a van two blocks away from the house. Jiyong is going to go into the house and lead the kids out through the back and to you. Once Yoochun gets the all clear; he and three other officers are going in to make the arrests.”
“But what if something goes wrong?” Jaejoong asked.
“Yoochun said he has a contingency plan in case everything goes south. He just wants you to trust him.”
“I do trust him. I just want everyone to be safe. Every time Yoochun does stake outs or raids with the police I freak out. He only tells me about a third of the operations he actually does with them.”
“It is nerve-wracking. But Yoochun is smart and careful.”
Jaejoong stood and began pacing the room. He had too much pent up nervous energy.
Four days later Jaejoong was sitting in a van with a social worker, Yoochun and Jiyong. Yoochun was going over the instructions for the fifth time. Jaejoong felt the nervousness coil through his body.
“And if anything happens or you don’t feel safe, gat out of the house and go straight to Jaejoong. Jae will radio us and we’ll call the mission off. Don’t do anything that will put yourself in danger.”
Jiyong nodded slowly and looked at Jaejoong. “I’ll be okay.”
Jaejoong gave Jiyong an encouraging smile. “Of course you will.” Jaejoong reached out and caressed Jiyong’s face. “Just think about the kids in the house and we’ll worry about everything else.”
Jaejoong sat with the social worker, Joonhee. He tapped his foot nervously, waiting for the ‘go’ signal from Yoochun.
“It’s going to be alright.” Joonhee tried to comfort Jaejoong.
He nodded in response, unsure of what to say. He held the walkie talkie loosely in his hand.
The walkie crackled to life with Yoochun’s voice. “It’s a go. All units be on stand by.”
Jaejoong turned toward the house and waited.
There is no A/N tonight. I might write something later. IDK