Chapter 39: The Mom and the Child Drink Together and The Innocent Boy Experiences a Splendid Dinner
            Dinner must have been replaced by alcohol, specifically, vodka. Jaejoong and Yumi ate in a corner table concealed by long, silk drapes. There wasn’t much to hide though for they dined in silence. There wasn’t much to say between the two of them. It wasn’t until Yumi had accidentally spilled her glass of vodka onto the table did Jaejoong mutter, “Look at you. So careless.”

            “C-c-careless?” she rambled as she swiped her napkin across the wet area. “I’ve n-n-never in my life been careless. Ev-everything I do has a reason.”
            Rolling his eyes, he scoffed, “Right.”
She flipped the glass over and filled the cup to the top. As much as Jaejoong wanted to stop her from embarrassing herself, he held onto his chopsticks tightly, waiting for her to reveal the truth about this meeting. He didn’t expect her to apologize and in fact, she hadn’t even delved to that situation.
            She cocked her neck to the side and uttered, “You don’t believe me?”
            “No, I don’t. Tell me why I should believe you.”
            “T-t-today, I’m tipsy be-cause if my mind is clear,” she explained, “I can’t say s-s-sorry to you and your girl—“
            “She’s not my girlfriend,” Jaejoong corrected.
            With her cheeks painted bright red, Yumi pointed her finger at Jaejoong and argued, “If she’s not your girlfriend, th-then wh-wh-why were you fooling around with her? Huh?”
            “What?”
            “Y-you know, on the street, hugging, groping, whatever.”
            Jaejoong took a sip of his sake before asking, “So, why do you care?”
            Jealousy didn’t seem like the right term for Yumi’s attitude towards Kannei at the time. Yumi had no reason to be envious of Kannei unless . . . No, Jaejoong didn`t want to assume anything. He barely knew Yumi, so how was that conclusion even plausible?
            “Because,” she huffed in between a mouthful of vodka, “because . . . Ha, I don’t even know. Why should I care? Why should I even care about you? A jerk?”
            “You need my help?” Jaejoong tried to answer her.
            She lifted her glass, examining it under the light. “Gave up on that a while ago,” she finally admitted. “You see, I don’t get why . . . why I always fall for the wrong guy, why I’m working, why I’m trying so hard, why I’m even here . . . living.”
            This was the first time Jaejoong had ever seen her so sombre. She was staring at him with her withering, hazelnut eyes and he understood that look. He had worn that gaze when he saw his reflection in the washroom mirror, and she too had shown that same despair. This time, though, she appeared to be even more troubled and dejected.
            “Wh-what do you mean by that?” Jaejoong croaked.
            “The first time I fell in love was with a married man,” Yumi clarified. “He was the one that brought me to this industry. He took my photograph when I was a senior in high school and he said that I was lovely, that I was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. He even said that he could make me into a star. I’d be his star and the world’s star.”
            Although Jaejoong was sure that Yumi had revealed a bit of her past during their washroom encounter, he still decided to ask, “And then?”
            Again, she looked directly at Jaejoong before saying, “I was stupid. I believed him. He had walked into my life when I felt like the loneliest person alive, but you know what was funny?”
            “What?”
            “When I was with him . . . I felt lonelier than before,” she muttered with tears rolling down her cheeks. “I knew that no matter how much I loved him, I could never be with him.”
            “I thought we went over this already,” Jaejoong murmured.
            “I am over him, but because of this, I still don’t . . . even know what I’m doing here,” she moped while drying her tears with her fingers, “why I’m even going against my father. I don’t . . . even think I like singing that much or acting. I honestly d-don’t . . .”
            Jaejoong felt a hefty gulp slide down his throat. He knew exactly what it felt like to rebel against family. He had chosen this route, and when this route was cut off by a dead end, he had no clue where to go. He was perpetually lost until he had learned to reverse. Once he reflected, he could foretell his other options, but he hadn’t been alone during his moment of contemplation. Kannei had been by his side, and so, he realized that he too had to help. As much as he disliked Yumi, he didn’t have the heart to ignore her completely.
            “I know what you’re going through,” he stated.
            She glared at him and hollered, “Wh-what do you know? You have everything! A loving family! Siblings! Friends! I’m sure your love life is fine too!”
            “It may seem like I have everything, but what I want the most will never be mine,” he coldly replied.
            “What more do you want?” Yumi scoffed.
            “At least you have a father who truly cares for you,” Jaejoong argued. “My real parents probably would have wanted me dead.”
            “I’m so—“
            “Don’t apologize,” he interrupted. “I hate apologies.”
            The dinner, thus, ended in silence. She didn’t say more, and he didn’t want to hear more. Seeing that she was too intoxicated to even walk straight, he phoned her manager. Within fifteen minutes, her manager, Sora, had rushed into the restaurant, saying, “I’m so sorry for all the trouble she has caused. Yumi . . . is having a rough time these days. She’s having trouble adjusting to her new drama and her father still disapproves of her job. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to her. She . . . doesn’t have a lot of friends that she can talk to.”
            He forced a smile to utter, “It’s fine.”
            “Just remember to warn me beforehand that you two are going out by yourselves,” Sora reminded. “I don’t want the tabloids spreading rumours about you two.”
            Jaejoong knew that it was probably too late to be cautioning him because in between the stillness, he had suddenly remembered what he had wished to forget. He had deliberately discarded that fragment of their feast for a reason. He didn’t need any more events to bother him, yet he couldn’t lie to himself. He looked down at his shirt and he knew that it still bothered him.
            Yumi laughed and leaned towards him to tug on his tie. “Ha! You hate apologizing?” she asked. “Well, you know what I hate?”
            “What?”
            “I hate you,” she declared, pulling him closer to her. As she secured her hands on his cheeks, she voiced, “I hate these feelings I have for you.”
            Then, she brutally pressed her lips on his, not caring if his or her clothes were ruined by their meals. She wouldn’t have stopped until he backed away, and once he had retreated, there was silence.
            “You’re drunk,” he at last announced before wiping his mouth with a napkin.
            “Maybe I am,” she answered, “drunk . . . for you.”

 “Junsu, we should be going. The park is closing,” Naomi reminded him.
Junsu had been too pre-occupied with trying on all the rides. He had to distract her no matter how awkward or unromantic he seemed. He had to keep her busy until the park closed. Still, he knew that Naomi was getting bored. She kept glancing at her cell phone for the time.
“Not today,” he at last admitted. “Naomi . . . I actually have an early birthday surprise for you, but you have to put on this blind fold until I say that it’s okay to look.”
He took out a bandana from his pocket and offered it to her. She was staggered for she had never expected a surprise. Surprises were never enjoyable in her life. Every shock seemed to remind her of the past, of that day, but this surprise could be worth remembering. Deciding to give him a chance, she accepted the blind fold, allowing him to gently tie it around her eyes.
“Don’t worry,” he whispered from behind. “I’m here.”
He had one hand on her shoulder and the other around her waist, gently pushing her forward. This was exactly what she craved, this being soundness. He was there for her. Carefully and steadily, Junsu led her to his envisioned destination. Although Junsu had poorly drawn a layout of his setting, which Kannei ended up perfecting for him, he was still astounded to find the dining area to be so majestic.
He had booked a French restaurant within the amusement park. They were going to be eating out on the terrace, which had dark wooden planks running side by side to act like a roof and had several wooden beams connected to the edges of the roof and the ground for support. There were seemingly millions of small lantern lights spread across the ceiling and all of the other round tables were cleared out, except for two in the centre. The table was decorated with a rose coloured tablecloth and the centerpiece was a glass vase of cherry blossom branches arranged in a bouquet-like manner. To the right of their table was a grand piano. He had also asked the chef to stay behind to cook for them. The servers were going to be Rhett and Kannei, who had already changed into their waiter outfits, black and proper. The main decorators, Changmin and Yoochun, were nowhere to be seen.
After taking the time to examine his surroundings, he directed her up the steps leading to the terrace. Then, he removed his hands from her, causing her to waver to the point of breaking down. She frantically and blindly searched for Junsu; her hands reached out to the air and her head anxiously shifting left to right. He lied, she thought. They always lied. Why did she even bother? She was about to rip the blindfold from her eyes, but Junsu immediately caught onto her hand.
“It’s all right,” he mumbled. “I’m here.”
How long had she been waiting for someone to say that to her? Too long. So the tears fell and she too sank to the ground, forcing Junsu to let go of her hand. She couldn’t stop crying and Junsu didn’t know what to do.
“Are you okay?” he worriedly asked as he knelt beside her. Assuming that the blind fold was bugging her, he proceeded to untie it.
“Don’t do anything please,” she begged. “Just stay there.”
The last thing she wanted was for him to see his concerned eyes. They would remind her of her despicable, old self when she cared too much. Subsequently, he sat by her side on the wooden floor and waited for her permission to move. When she had stopped sobbing, she asked, “So, what’s next?”
Slightly shocked by her change in attitude, he stammered, “Ugh, I-I-I’ll remove your blindfold now.”
She, however, just slipped it off of her face and decreed, “Too slow.”
He stood up faster than her and joked, “Now, who’s the slow one?”
Naomi giggled and raced to what she assumed to be her spot, which was one of the empty chairs at the table, “So, tell me, who’s the slow one.”
Junsu’s competitive spirit was rising and after swiftly taking his seat, he snapped his fingers, signaling his servers to come. Out came Rhett and Kannei from inside of the resturant. “We’re ready to order,” Junsu suavely noted.
Naomi responded, “Isn’t that a bit quick?”
Kannei stepped in to say, “I know. People usually read the menu, you know.” Rhett then elbowed her, prompting her to complain, “Hey! What was that for?”
Rhett felt like hitting his head with his palm, but he coughed and asked, “What would you like to order, sir?”
“I think we’ll start off with the arugula salad and the steak tartare,” Junsu uttered.
“And will you be sharing these with her?” Rhett confirmed.
“Yes.”
“What else would you like?”
Junsu proposed, “The filet mignon for the lady and the duck for myself.”
“And for dessert?” Rhett asked.
“The chocolate truffle cake and the crème brulée,” Junsu stated. “We’ll also like Pinot Noir for wine.”
He had rehearsed everything that he had wanted to order several times in his mind. Actually, Rhett had forced him to memorize them, claiming that it was manlier that way. Rhett even used an inflatable hammer to smack Junsu’s back whenever Junsu forgot the order of events or a dish. This was just like in high school when Rhett was tutoring Junsu before the final exams. Junsu was almost failing his classes, and Rhett always had to whack Junsu to stay focused so that he’d actually remember. Rhett would then mutter, “How am I going to face your parents if you actually fail? I already promised that you’d score at least . . .” In this case, though, Rhett had said to Junsu, “How am I going to face Naomi if you screw up?”
Luckily, Rhett had already left for the kitchen, and only Kannei stayed to fill their empty glasses with water. Naomi suddenly teased, “Junsu, did you know that I’m a vegetarian?”
Junsu almost choked on water, stuttering, “W-what?”
 “I’m just joking with you. You ordered everything without asking me.”
“Is that bad?” he blabbed.     
“No.” She slyly grinned. “I think . . . I could get used to these.”
 “To what?”
“To your surprises,” she stated.
Naomi felt that perhaps it was possible to believe again. She partly wanted to believe in him; she sometimes experienced guilt. She was guilty for being with him, and for not truly loving him. She was beginning to become convinced though that he would keep his initial promise, his promise to always be by her side. She knew what she had to do to for Junsu to maintain that pledge, but she couldn’t do what was needed.
She loved him. She realized, however, that he would never be the one by her side. The one that stayed then? That was the one she needed. Hence, she expressed her joy by kissing Junsu on his cheek and he showed his love for her by delicately and slowly kissing her lips. One kiss was to reassure her. Another was to calm himself. The final one was to tell her that he truly loved her.
“I love you,” Junsu reiterated now through words.
Her throat was caught by this sentence and she could only be compelled to answer, “Me too.”
What she wanted to say was: I’m sorry.

Reactions: