Chapter 45: The Lonely Woman Explains and the Innocent Boy Takes the Little Boy to Work
In the hostile, dark hospital room, there was a frail lady still unconscious, and there was a fretful man still waiting for her to be conscious. He sat in a stool placed beside her bed and he just watched her. Her face was colourless, drained of life, and emaciated, plagued with fatigue. Her eyes were firmly shut. Her body was completely still, compelling him to focus on her breathing. Every breath meant that she was still alive and just asleep. Regardless of how exhausted he was, he kept his eyes and ears open.

He first saw her lips move and then he heard her gasp, “D-don’t. Don’t.”
Was this a nightmare? He saw her tears streaming down her cheeks and he heard her sob, “Don’t . . .  Jisung.”
“It’s okay,” he soothed. “It’s just me, Yoochun.”
Her eyes now opened, hazily gazing at him. Immediately, she asked, “W-why are you here?”
“Let me call the doctor first,” Yoochun uttered and pressed the button on the wall. After the doctor’s brief examination, Yoochun resumed the conversation. “Your friend, Gina, called me and told me to come.”
“You didn’t have to,” she muttered. “This is none of your business.”
“It is mine when a friend needs help.”
“Well I don’t need your help,” she announced. “I never needed your help.”
“Sanghyun deserves a better life—“
“I know that!” she yelled. “Do you not fucking thinking that I know that? And I’m trying. I’m trying my best already! Just leave me alone!”
She turned her body away from him, wrapping the blanket around herself. Yoochun could hear her faint cries of desperation and frustration. He wanted to help; he really did.
“I won’t just sit here and watch you die,” he declared. “Before I can help you, I need to know what happened before.”
“I told you already,” she mumbled. “My husband left—“
This time Yoochun interjected, “You’re lying again. There’s no need to lie anymore. I’ve heard from Gina that he came to get you.”
She didn’t say anything for a while, still buried in her tears. Yoochun didn’t press on and instead, waited for her to reply. His patience was awarded as she began to add, “You know what’s funny? I tried so hard to avoid a life that I didn’t want for my child and me, but it still happened.”
“What happened?”
“I had a perfect life,” she mumbled. “And one day, it all came crashing down. I was further back from where I had started. Nothing really goes your way, right?”
That was destiny. There were uncontrollable aspects of life. There was no sense in escaping. They were part of the boomerang effect: what was tossed away would eventually return. What could one do? One could catch the boomerang or be hit by it. Junghwa had already been injured by it. She could only destroy the boomerang now. She had to confront of her fears, which was easier said than done. Yoochun, thus, came to a decision. He would help her as she had once helped him. She needed someone to save her and he would reach out for her. She just needed to learn how to accept and how to trust again.
“Don’t worry,” Yoochun remarked. “We’ll figure something out.”             
“Yoochun, just take care of Sanghyun for me, will you?” she urged. “I . . . already know what I have to do.”
With this statement, Yoochun could do nothing, but agree to her terms. This was her life, not his. That was what was expected, but what Yoochun hadn’t expected was to have all the boys and Kannei to be waiting for him. They were all sitting on the couch in the living room, contemplating. Junsu, Rhett, and Kannei believed that Yoochun was not the biological father, while Changmin, who had finally returned from his trip, and Jaejoong believed otherwise. They needed Yoochun to confirm their guesses and also to declare the winner of the bet. This bet had a grand prize. Whichever side won would be treated to a dinner by the other. Of course, they couldn’t let Yoochun know about this bet. Whoever was the one to reveal their wages would have to treat everyone else to dinner.  
“You’re finally back!” Junsu shouted.
He leapt from the couch on which Yunho and Kannei sat. Opposite to their team were Jaejoong and Changmin, who occupied another sofa. Where was the mystery boy then? Sanghyun was asleep on a separate chair.
Jaejoong asked, “Yoochun, I’m warning you ahead of time. Don’t try to weasel out of this. Are . . . you the biological father of this child?”
He pointed to the sleeping culprit. If there were a panel of announcers, they would have announced, “Guilty as charged!”
Unfortunately, there was bound to be losers.
“No,” Yoochun glowered at Jaejoong, replying, “I’m more like a nanny.”
Junsu made his signature victory move, which involved pumping a fist up and down. “Yes! Hell yes!” he cheered.
Rhett and Kannei at first smiled at each other, pleased with their triumph, but once they saw Junsu openly display his happiness, they instantly pulled Junsu back to the couch.
“Junsu here,” Yunho laughed. “Junsu is just so happy that you’re a  . . . nanny now. Right, Junsu?”
Junsu was about to refute, but Kannei added, “Junsu, don’t be too loud now. Sanghyun is sleeping.”
“R-right,” Junsu mumbled.
Changmin, upset with the loss, rudely asked, “If you’re not the father, then why are you taking care of this kid?”
“Because . . .”
Yoochun took a pause. Yoochun didn’t know why. He just felt responsible for Sanghyun. This was one of the indefinable parts of life, like love.
“Because I promised his mother that I would take care of him,” Yoochun clarified. “He’ll stay at our place until she comes back.”
“What if she never comes back?” Jaejoong pondered.
 “Oh she will. She’ll definitely be back for him.”
“R-right,” Changmin scoffed. “I don’t think we can handle another kid here. One is enough.”
He was eyeing Junsu after his phrase. Junsu, realizing what Changmin was implying, hollered, “Hey! I’m not a kid!”
“I didn’t say that you were the one,” Changmin mumbled.
“Oh,” Junsu said.
Rhett reminded everyone, “I actually agree with Changmin. This place isn’t a good place to raise a kid. No one has time to look after Sanghyun.”
Yoochun understood what Rhett meant. Sanghyun needed a stable household. Their home was too chaotic; they did whatever they wanted. Sometimes, they would come home late or they would have midnight snacks. All of them had a schedule unsuitable for a family. Yoochun was willing to change his habits though. He just needed a different environment, and he knew just the place to go.
“Hey,” Yoochun abruptly announced, “I think I’ll be moving out.”
Yoochun’s situation was only temporary, all of the boys thought. Thus, they allowed Sanghyun to temporarily stay with them. Junsu even offered to bring Sanghyun to work during the weekends. It seemed that only Junsu’s working environment was suitable for a child. At first, Junsu’s father was upset when he saw his son with a child. He almost exploded in fury, but Junsu obliterated such a reaction by quickly stating, “This isn’t my kid.”
Tension immediately dissolved to affability. It was amazing how one could accept the truth if it didn’t involve oneself. In fact, Junsu’s father, Mr. Kim, not only accepted Sanghyun, but also showered Sanghyun with affection. Affection was demonstrated through food. Mr. Kim simply offered meals to Sanghyun.
Junsu, on the other hand, wondered whether or not it was necessary for Sanghyun to try the entire menu. It wasn’t as if he had Changmin’s appetite. The poor child was too scrawny to even absorb all that he ate. In effect, his poor appetite only reminded Junsu of Sanghyun’s fragile health. Sanghyun was practically confined by medicine and restrictions. One of the restrictions included vigorous exercise, which happened to be one of Junsu’s favourite pastimes.
What could Sanghyun do then? He attempted to eat whatever Mr. Kim handed him. He didn’t want to seem rude. He usually occupied a small table for two and drew pictures, sometimes read or even slept. A few weekends passed by following this routine until Junsu felt too blameworthy. He felt guilty for neglecting the child, for being preoccupied with work, and for not doing this job properly. So, on the last day at Junsu’s workplace, Junsu settled on making an effort, hoping to replace this dull memory with a pleasurable one.
He understood what it was like to be left alone at a restaurant. When his parents had first started the business, they didn’t have time to look after him nor did they have the money to hire a babysitter. Their solution was to take Junsu to the restaurant. They, too, placed him in a chair at a table for couples, and then they rushed off to do their jobs. He used to sit there and stare out the window, jealous of what other children were doing. They were running, shopping with their parents, or playing outside, whereas, he was confined at a spot. Once he had tried to go outside, only to receive a hefty scolding. It was unfair, he felt, but there was nothing he could really do. He was just a child.
Now, there was another child in a similar situation as him, which certainly made him feel culpable. Junsu wanted to overlook this matter. The past was the past. There was no point in revisiting the past. He simply would like to forget. If he failed to remember, he would never feel remorse or pain. Junsu couldn’t, however, ignore Sanghyun, sitting in the same spot and sharing the same look in his eyes. There seemed to be a mirror, reflecting Junsu’s true self and subsequently, replaying what had slipped from his mind. Every weekend was like a song on repeat drilling the past to the present.
“Hey, kiddo,” Junsu finally announced. He took a seat across from Sanghyun after work. “What do you want to do? It’s pretty boring here huh?” Sanghyun just smiled. “Since it’s your last day here, I thought I’d do something special for you. So, what do you usually like to do?”
“Piano,” Sanghyun muttered.
Junsu didn’t exactly want to play the piano or watch someone else play. He generally became bored of watching someone’s demonstration. He was a kinesthetic learner. Moreover, there wasn’t a piano in sight. He was about to suggest playing sports, but remembered that particular limitation. Health came before amusement. Besides sports, what else could Junsu do?
Staring straight ahead into the kitchen, he noticed the sous-chef cleaning the top of the large, stainless steel oven with a rag. At that moment, he remembered that time when his grandfather had taught him how to make pizza. His grandfather used to be the chef of the family restaurant. Junsu was never really close with his grandparents or anyone in his family; everyone was too busy with work.
That day was unique. After Junsu had failed to sneak out of the restaurant and had endured a lengthy lecture, he cried in that chair. His father could not deal with crying boys, so he was left alone. His mother followed his father’s order, which specified that Junsu had to be by himself. This was the process of growing up, his father had declared. Only his grandfather, for once, exited the kitchen and went to Junsu’s side.
“You want to lend me a hand, buddy?” his grandfather had asked the teary-eyed Junsu.
Junsu couldn’t remember what he said exactly, but he did recall helping his grandfather. They made a pizza together and as Junsu was being taught, his grandfather talked.
“A pizza is like a family,” he explained. “There are many parts to a family, but they come together to make one good pizza. You have to tend your pizza, like how you would care for your family. If you can make a fine pizza, then you’ll be ready to be a grown-up.”
“Really?” Junsu had asked.
“It’s not that easy.” His grandfather had chuckled. “Life isn’t easy as well like how tossing your pizza dough by hand is tough on you. You need practice.”
Junsu was too young to fully understand what his grandfather had implied. Junsu only craved to create the best pizza in the world and had forgotten about his lonesomeness. Perhaps, this was one of his most cherished memories. He was too old to remind himself of this scene. No, he didn’t need it anymore, but maybe, it was worth replicating this memory for Sanghyun to remember.
“What do you think of making pizza?” Junsu suddenly suggested.