Chapter 40: The Free Spirit Discusses with the Lonely Woman and the Mom is Bombarded by Tabloids

After Yoochun had finished his job for Junsu, he fled earlier from the scene with Sanghyun by his side. Sanghyun was also there to help, but Changmin didn’t even ask why there was a child. There were some things that even Changmin wouldn’t ask about and this was one of them. Moreover, he was too busy cursing at his poor luck, while Yoochun had to make sure Sanghyun didn’t hear those swear words. Who wanted another Changmin?


Yoochun did leave before Rhett and Kannei came. Yoochun was sure that Rhett would badger him about the child and even lecture him for having too many flings. What was worse was that Rhett would immediately jump to the conclusion that Sanghyun was Yoochun’s biological son, a son that the mother had abandoned at their door step. Knowing how horrible it was when Rhett misunderstood something, Yoochun knew that it wasn’t time to introduce Sanghyun to them. That night was supposed to be for Junsu and Naomi.
So, Yoochun and Sanghyun returned to Junghwa’s apartment, which surprisingly was lit, meaning that Junghwa was home. Her being home during the early evening was suspicious. She never returned until the early mornings, but there she was, sitting cross-legged on the couch with her arms strictly folded.
“Where were you two?” she demanded once they entered the place.
Yoochun sensed her frustration, so he guardedly answered, “I just took Sanghyun out a bit. I thought he needed a breath of fresh air.”
“And you never asked me if you could do that?” she growled. “Am I not his mother? Sanghyun, come over here!”
Sanghyun refused and hid behind Yoochun. Junghwa couldn’t believe what she saw. Sanghyun was her son, yet he was siding with a stranger. She knew she shouldn’t have agreed to let Yoochun babysit him. Yoochun was nothing, but trouble. She understood too well what Yoochun was like, especially since he was his sister’s ex-boyfriend. He was a good man, but not what she would claim as a good husband or a good father figure. That was why Soohwa suited Yoochun; Soohwa simply needed a boyfriend.
“Don’t yell at him,” Yoochun softly spoke. “I’m sorry for bringing him home so late.”
“I don’t ever want you near my son again!” she shrieked and marched towards Sanghyun. She grabbed him by the wrist, almost dragging him. Sanghyun, unwilling to let go of Yoochun’s knees, was on his knees, fighting to stay.
Yoochun bent down, scooped him away from Junghwa, and stated, “If this is how you treat your own son, then I think he should be under my care.”
“No!” she hollered. “What right do you even have? You’re not even part of this family!”
Taking a deep breath, he explained, “I know I’m not his father. I know that I’m not even related to you. I’m practically a stranger in this household, but I know that Sanghyun needs someone there for him. I’m not saying that you’re not a good mother. I know very well that you’d do anything for Sanghyun, but he still needs someone by his side. A kid can’t grow alone.”
Yoochun had already recognized that she was jealous. She was jealous of him and he was able to accept that. If he were her, he would feel the same way too. He was an outsider, who was closer to her son than herself. He knew, however, that in the end, Sanghyun would ultimately choose Junghwa. Yoochun was temporarily a substitute. One day, when he became unneeded, he would depart and when that day came, Sanghyun wouldn’t care. His mother would be by her son’s side.
“I’m sorry.” She now hugged her son, apologizing, “I’m so sorry I yelled at you. Mommy was just stressed. That’s all.”
When everything had settled down and Sanghyun was asleep, Yoochun decided to ask the questions that had been bothering him. He didn’t mean to stir another argument; he just wanted to help. As she now poured a glass of wine for the two of them, he first told her, “I’ve been meaning to tell you that Sanghyun has been causing fights at school.”
“He’s a boy,” she muttered. “He’ll toughen up that way.”
“He’s starting the fights,” Yoochun clarified. “Apparently, you’ve never gone to any of the meetings with the principal.”
She slammed her glass onto the table, hollering, “Do you think I have time?”
“I know,” he muttered. “I’m not blaming you for not going, but I have to tell you these things. I think Sanghyun is very troubled and I just want to know why. No kid will tell you not to hit him.”
“I don’t hit my son,” she glared. “If that’s what you’re wondering. I’m not some abusive mother.”
“I know, you’re not, but I just want to know why he said that to me.”
Her voice cracked, “It must be him. It’s his entire fault!”     
“Whose fault?”
“My ex-husband’s,” she grumbled.
There was yet another mystery, and Yoochun needed to be the one to solve it.
-----
The headlines were sprawled everywhere: “Taka Yumi’s secret date with boyfriend.” The picture was that of Yumi kissing Jaejoong and although Jaejoong’s eyes were blurred out, most people, who knew him, could still identify him. It wasn’t hard with that blonde hair of his. Luckily for Jaejoong, Changmin was away at a school field trip, Rhett never read the entertainment section of the newspapers, Yoochun never cared for the news, and Junsu only cared about sports. His sisters, though, did pester him with all their might. They spammed his cell phone with texts, emailed him, and even left private messages on his blog. None of them called, except for Gina.
“Jaejoong, it’s me,” she chirped. “Haha wants to know about the girl you were with.”
“Tell her that nothing happened,” Jaejoong answered. “That girl was just drunk.”
“Really? But you two—“
“She thought I was her ex. That’s why she kissed me.”
“Oh, good. Don’t do anything crazy anymore, okay?”
Beep. Beep. Beep.
The end of a harmonious conversation. Jaejoong scoffed knowing what truly bothered their family. He was embarrassing them again. So what? So what if he had a scandal? He knew the truth and that was all that mattered. If others didn’t believe him, then so what? His confidence was shortly diminished once he received another phone call.
“Jaejoong? Was that actually you in the newspapers?”
Kannei.
Jaejoong felt a jolt rush through his skin. Anxiety. He had never anticipated her to call about this, and so he had no idea what to say when she did. “Yeah,” he could simply say.
“Oh my god!”
“Wh-wh-what?”
Here it comes . . . the craziness, the interrogation, the—
“That’s so awesome! So, you’re actually dating a celebrity?”
Kannei’s voice was ecstatically high and cheerful, the complete opposite of what Jaejoong had imagined. Somehow, he would have preferred what he had surmised. At least, she wouldn’t be confused about his relationship status.
“Sorry to burst your bubble there, but I’m not dating her or anyone,” he grumbled.
“Sheesh! No need to get so feisty here,” she rebutted. “I was just happy for you. That’s all.”
“Well, you should be worrying about me instead.”
“Why? What is there to worry about?”
“Paparazzi chasing me?”
He heard her chuckle too loudly. “Ohh, that.” Her voice was muffled by her giggles. “Just man up. You’re a guy. You’re supposed to have balls to deal with these problems.”
Jaejoong almost choked on his own saliva. Vulgarity wasn’t what he had expected from her mouth. Usually, people would have comforted him. Instead, she was asking him to take responsibility for something that wasn’t even true. What was the reasoning in that? Shaking his head, he stated, “Okay, but that doesn’t mean that it’s my fault.”
“I never said it was your fault, Jaejoong,” she clarified. “It’s just that now that it has happened, you have to deal with it whether or not you like it.”
“I know,” he sighed. “I know.”
“That’s good,” she said. “Anyhow, I just called to check up on you. I’ve got to go to class now. See you some time?”
“Yeah . . . see you later.”
From the corner of his eye, he could see the parading paparazzi. What was he going to do now? He paced back and forth his room, hoping that he would find some answers. Fortunately for him, his answer came knocking at the back door. Among the chaos, he could hear the knocks travelling from the back end. Rushing down the stairs, he opened the door without even checking to see who it was.
“Kim Jaejoong . . . we need to talk,” Yumi’s manager, Sora, announced.
“I agree,” he said and led her to the kitchen. “Coffee or tea?”
“Neither,” she replied rather callously. “We’re going to make this short and snappy. You’re going to be Yumi’s makeup artist.”
“I’m not even dating her,” he argued. “Why should I yield to her?”
“I don’t care whether or not you’re dating her,” she uttered. “I know she has admitted that you two are lovers, but—“
“What?” He slammed his fist on the table. “Is that what she said?”
“Yes, but that’s beside the point. The point is there are photos of you two kissing. Now, we’re going to be having a meeting with the reporters. We will be explaining this as a rehearsal for a kiss scene in her upcoming drama, and that you’re just her makeup artist.”
   As much as Jaejoong wanted to flee, he knew that he had to face this issue. It was already confronting him with flashes and noises. The question was: was there a better way to resolve everything? He knew who he could consult as his problem solver, but Rhett was already out to work and had other plans during the evening. This sort of crisis needed a resolute and fast decision. This, to Jaejoong, was quicksand. His feet were sinking deeper and deeper by the seconds. He could see several vines, but he didn’t know which one was secure enough to grab. Which vine to tug though?
            “I think . . .” He paused to think some more.
            “You think?” Sora’s eyebrows furrowed. “Hold on a minute, I’ve got a call. Yes? You want to speak to him? Hold on. Jaejoong, it’s Yumi. She wants to speak to you.”
            But I don’t even want to talk to her.
            Still, he was handed a phone and so, he listened out of courtesy. “What do you want?” he snapped.
“I bet you’re fuming with anger,” Yumi taunted.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You’re right,” she snickered. “You do deserve to be mad at me, but that’s not going to fix anything.”
“You did this on purpose, didn’t you?” he verified. “You did this so that I’d agree to work for you, right?”
Yumi chuckled too loudly. “You can think whatever you want of me. I am sure that you probably wouldn’t agree to this, so I called to make sure that you would.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve done some research on your alleged girlfriend. It turns out that she’s cheating on you—“
“I’ve told you that she was never my girlfriend,” Jaejoong interrupted. “She’s my best friend’s girlfriend.”
“Meaning that you can’t be with her,” Yumi rebutted.
“I never said I wanted to—“
Yumi even giggled, almost choking on her own laughter. “Don’t take a woman’s intuition too lightly. You know and I know that you’ve got something for her.”
No one was supposed to know about his secrets, thoughts, and wishes, particularly this far-fetched one. He didn’t like her in that way at first, but after knowing her better, he couldn’t refute that he hadn’t wondered what it would be like if she treated him as Rhett. If he were Rhett, he wouldn’t let her have doubts. He would tell her clearly about his feelings so that there was no way for her to twist his words, and if he had the chance to hold onto her hand, he would never let her go. He wasn’t Rhett though; thus, Jaejoong was left with no choice but to be supportive of her choice. He just never knew that someone, especially someone like Yumi, would be able to unearth his decision.
“What do you want?” He repeated his first question.
“I want . . . you to follow my manager’s proposal.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then I’ll just say that we’re dating,” Yumi threatened. “I doubt you’d want your dear Kannei to think that, now, would you?”
Gritting his teeth, Jaejoong murmured, “Okay, deal. You and I are co-workers. Nothing more than that.”
            “Great.” He could picture her smiling rather evilly. “I knew she meant a lot to you. You’re too easy to understand, Jaejoong . . . Reynolds. Oops, I meant . . . Jameson Reynolds.”

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