Chapter 19: The Free Spirit Attends the Wedding and the Mom Gives the Other Three Some Advice
Everything seemed so surreal to Yoochun. No one he knew was at the dinner for the wedding. He had missed the ceremony due to some conflict with work, but he had made sure that he was on time for the feast. A promise was a promise and he was a man of his words.

Upon entering the venue, which was at one of Tokyo’s finest hotels, he noticed that she had chosen the décor that they had agreed on for their ideal wedding. There was a long red carpet that led to the entrance to the dining hall and there were grand chandeliers that hung from the ceiling. The colour scheme of this wedding was in the shade of light yellow, faint orange, and a dash of brown. At the reception table, he recognized her parents, dressed in traditional clothing, greeting the guests. He hoped to quickly walk by without catching their attention, but his presence was majestic, mainly because of what he wore. He wore a grey pinstripe suit with metallic greyish-blue dress shoes, while most guests wore black. He grumbled to himself that he should have worn something less attention-seeking, but ironically, he also wanted her to know that he was there.
When he was about to cross the entrance to the hall, her father grabbed him by the arm and almost dragged him away. However, Yoochun immediately showed him the invitation, to which the father unwillingly let go of Yoochun’s arm. Yoochun already felt that he was at the brink of distress. He kept thinking how this was a bad idea, but he still walked towards his assigned table. When he took his seat at table six, he was the second to arrive. There was a woman, who looked to be in her late twenties to early thirties, to his right. Her long, wavy hair that stopped at the end of her chest blended with her dull, somnolent eyes. Her draped coral dress, gathered in tulip shape, had an oversized flower on her bodice. This contrasting combination of a happy dress and a dejected person was unusual for a wedding. He knew too that she was suffering; he just didn’t know what was causing her misery.
“I didn’t expect you to be here,” the lady stated in a monotonous tone. Her arms were even tightly hugging herself. 
Yoochun asked in a puzzling tone, “Excuse me, but who are you?”
Once she had lifted her head and faced him, Yoochun recognized her at once. She was Soohwa’s older sister, Junghwa. At the time of Yoochun’s relationship with Soohwa, he had been introduced to their whole family. He had developed a close bond to every member of the family, especially with Junghwa, who often acted as a mediator between Soohwa and him. Junghwa greatly differed from Soohwa; Junghwa was like Yoochun, a thinker. Junghwa also preferred quietude and possessed a calm disposition. Yoochun was still surprised at her drastic change; the woman whose eyes used to be full of life was now withered and battered. It was as if she had given up on living.
“I guess . . . it has been a long time,” Yoochun finally answered. “So, I forgot what you looked like. You’ve changed.”
“You too,” she murmured. “If you were the same, you wouldn’t have come.”
 “I debated about attending this wedding for a while, but I felt it was time to move on.”
Junghwa at once added, “I apologize on behalf of Soohwa for all the pain that she has inflicted on you. I still think you’re the best guy for her.”
“Thanks.” Yoochun laughed. “So, are you encouraging me to start an affair with her or to elope with her?”
She shook her head as she smiled. “No, of course not. That would be insane. I also know that you would never do that to her. You would have chased after her all this time if that were the case.”
Yoochun’s head hung low as he asked, “You know something pitiful?”
“What?”
“I think you probably know me better than she did.” He then looked up at her with a soft grin.
 “That’s why I usually had to step in and help with your fights with her. Yoochun, don’t feel too bad about this. At least you weren’t married.”
Yoochun wanted to ask why she seemed so bitter, why she had changed, but he for one didn’t dare to intrude someone’s privacy and secondly, the MC had already started with the introductions. The bride was entering with the groom as if they were dancing side by side. Soohwa, he saw, looked happy with that man. Yoochun could tell because she was too cheerful to notice anyone. Plus, her dimples were thoroughly indented and her eyes were completely dazzling. He then noticed her extravagant wedding dress, fully decorated with beads and lace. It was the one that they had shopped for together, the one that she had finally persuaded him to adore. He had preferred a simple, white empire waist dress, but she yearned for everyone’s attention. Now, she wore it, the ivory, strapless mermaid gown featuring a beaded empire waist by Vera Wang. He carelessly laughed at himself, at his folly for she was right. This dress was made for her.           
When Soohwa sat down at her place in front of everyone, Yoochun couldn’t help thinking that the groom beside her would have been him. They had practically visited all the bridal shops and various hotels to plan for their perfect wedding even though they weren’t engaged at that time. Perhaps, that was also why she left him. She had left so many oblivious hints to him, nudging him that she wanted to be married. He, however, was blind and just tagged along with her, being dragged here and there, being pushed to listen to her desires.
Suddenly, he heard a clink coming from a table to his far right. This noise escalated to an uproar of cutlery hitting the wine glasses, along with a repeated chant of “kiss, kiss, kiss”. Although Soohwa was hesitant at first, once the groom winked at her, she succumbed to the audience’s pleas. As Yoochun watched the two inching closer and closer to each other’s lips, he felt the urge to dash away. His legs had flinched and he instantly stood up. Excusing himself from the table, he exited the entrance and walked to the lobby of the hotel. He took a seat in one of the French arm rests and inhaled a deep breath.
He still couldn’t go forth with his decision. Brushing his fingers along his spiked hair in frustration, he wondered why he was acting so cowardly. Fear had reached all parts of his body and had instructed him to escape. If he hadn’t, would he do something absurd or shameful? Yoochun closed his eyes and wished that he had the ability to go back in time. He would have arrived later and missed the scene. Then, he wouldn’t feel this way, but he had to push himself to reality. Dreams were meant for sleeping, not for living. He couldn’t get himself to open his eyes; tears would spatter and there was no one to reassure him. Perhaps, he would visit the bar tonight and drink away his sorrows. Wasn’t that what he had been doing for a few years? Why were old habits hard to break?
He felt that he didn’t know anything anymore: what he wanted, what he loved, and what he hated. He just wanted to know what to do. Why wasn’t he a prophet? He could listen to someone’s orders and forget about everything. That would mean that he should have listened to Soohwa. He was the stoic one. There was too much contradiction and complication running through Yoochun’s mind. Can anyone save me, he asked himself. Was there anyone to save him?
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Rhett, Junsu, and Changmin were too quiet, but what could they say? Jaejoong had offered to treat them some drinks, and what had seemed like a fun guy’s night out was actually a night of silence. Unlike meditation, there was much tension as the three boys just focused on drinking. They didn’t dare ask what was wrong. Jaejoong was never the sort to confide in anything; he had always been so secretive about his own life that the three couldn’t even remember if they had ever visited his home.
“Don’t be like me,” Jaejoong announced in between a sip. “Don’t lose someone good in your life.”
Changmin, sitting to the right of Jaejoong, punched him in the arm, almost causing him to tumble to the ground. “What are you talking about, man?” Changmin laughed too forcefully.
“I’m saying,” Jaejoong enlightened, “I don’t want you guys to regret anything. Once it’s over, it’s over.”
“Jaejoong . . . did something happen between you and Ami?” Junsu blurted. Rhett and Changmin quickly glared at him; the two sincerely wanted to tackle Junsu to a corner.
Taking a large gulp of sake, Jaejoong answered with a smug smile, “We . . . broke up.”
“So sorry to—“
Rhett’s sentence had been cut off by Jaejoong. “You don’t have to say that.” Jaejoong revealed another disheartened grin. “I don’t deserve sympathy anyways.”
“Don’t say that, Jaejoong,” Rhett argued. “You’re not a bad guy.”
Jaejoong couldn’t help but laugh at what Rhett had just said. Of course they couldn’t say he was bad. They didn’t even know half of the story; he never told them. He never wanted to share his romance. Was it even romance? Now that he thought of it, they had probably spent more time in bed together than going to dates.
Changmin wondered, “Why’d you let her go then? I don’t think it’s too late to—“
“It’s too late,” Jaejoong sighed, “but  . . . you know what’s funny?”
“What?” Changmin asked.
“I always thought I knew her better, but all this time, she was the one that understood me more,” Jaejoong remarked and poured himself some more sake. “I . . . don’t think I ever . . .”
“Can you make me some chicken noodle soup?” Ami had pressed her chin on his shoulder and asked.
Holding a pot in his hand, Jaejoong grumbled, “Isn’t that what sick people eat?”
“Oh, come on.” She hugged his back. “I’ve been craving it these days.”
“That’s what you’ve been saying for the past four years. I want to eat this. I want to eat that.” He had given her a discerning look, causing her to pout.
“But, I like it when you cook for me.”
“No, you’re just too lazy to cook for yourself. You piggy!”
He had been wrong that time. How could she have been lazy when she had to wake him up and had breakfast ready for him? He sulked, now realizing what she had wanted. If he cooked for her, then that meant he cared for her. She was brainwashing herself with this notion for how many years now?
“Jaejoong, maybe this wasn’t meant to be,” Junsu suggested. “Maybe, you’ll meet someone better for you.”
“Jaejoong, Jaejoong, what do you think of this ring?” Ami had pointed to the centre of a store’s glass display.
“It’s all right. Kind of boring. I don’t think you’d look good in it.”
He dragged her hand away.
“Come on, we still have to get groceries.”
“Wait, wait, just let me look at these for a few minutes!”
“I thought I already gave you a ring for Christmas.”
“But, these are different.”
“Right, but when are you actually going to be wearing that sort of ring?”
            “Jaejoong, I’m not telling you to forget about Ami, but I just wanted to say that I think you’ll be okay,” Rhett added, “and you know you can count on us.”
            “Oh fuck Rhett, you sound so corny!” Changmin screeched. “You’re becoming more and more like Yoochun!”
            “Shut up, Changmin!”
Rhett’s face was growing red.
            “Right, Rhett, you can count on me to be there for you, and just for you, darling,” Changmin snickered louder and placed his arm over Rhett’s shoulders.
            “Yeah, that’s not funny!” Rhett frowned while rolling his shoulder.
            “I-I-I think Changmin doesn’t mean to be rude a-a-and don’t sweat it, Jaejoong!” Junsu tweeted.
            Lifting a beer bottle in his hand, Changmin cheered, “Bros before hos!”
            “Changmin!” Rhett and Junsu both shouted.
            “What?”
            Suddenly, Jaejoong bellowed a laugh. “Man, Changmin, you’re such a fuckick.”
            “What’s that? I’ve never heard of that before.”
            “A fucking dick.”
So, the four boys’ night ended up with the whole bunch speaking in alcoholic tongue. Pretty much blurting all the new swear words they had invented, but later, all of them had fallen asleep in the taxi. Jaejoong, though, was still awake. Sitting in the car, he just thought.
Ami was already so far away from him; she was practically gone. However, whenever he closed his eyes, he could picture her face again. He knew, though, with time, he would slowly walk away and her face would become a blur. The next time they met, if there were a next, he hoped that they just brushed shoulders, being completely unaware of each other’s existence. That meant that she was happy with or without her lover, and he was moving forward to live for none other than himself. That was idealistic though. He was certain that she would be linking arms with someone while waving a gentle hello towards him and he prayed that by that time, he would be able to wave back, returning to the man he was, a long time ago. If he could, he would smile at her too. He would be happy because she was happy.

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