Prologue

Fragile Essence
Prologue
Author:  Aquariuslover
Beta: tahoeturquoise


Summary: Jaejoong, the half Korean child nobody wanted, and Yunho, the beloved golden son of a town, form an unlikely bond; one that is forever evolving through the passing years as it is repeatedly tested by love, loss, and fire. This is part one of their story.

Author’s Note: This story is set in an alternate universe, in an imaginary town, and during an ambiguous time period.



                                                             Prologue

He stood there in the hospital waiting room, acutely aware that he was wearing his Hello Kitty pajamas that Hana had gotten him last Christmas. Pajamas he had put on after showering; an unsuccessful attempt to wash away his guilt. He looked down at his feet, eyeing the green flip flops he had somehow managed to slip on during the mad dash to get to the crash site. He mentally chastised himself for thinking of clothing at a time like this. He squeezed his eyes shut and then opened them again, before gazing at the man who he knew to be forever lost to him.



Across the room, sitting in a chair, staring at the wall with tears sliding down blackened cheeks was the person Jaejoong loved most in the world; a person now consumed with overwhelming guilt and self-hatred. His face and arms were covered in burns and blisters; his clothing was scorched; but it was the not the heat of the fire that had left the deepest wounds, and a lifetime’s worth of scars.

Jaejoong did not move from his spot, not daring to take a step closer. “Yunho, you should go to the emergency room.”

“No,” came the broken, hoarse reply.

The painful response had Jaejoong instinctively taking a step toward the other man.

“Don’t! Don’t come near me.”

Jaejoong came to an immediate stop. “I won’t.”

“Do you know what we did?”

“I know.”

“We killed him…I killed him. I killed him,” the other man sobbed, bending over in his chair as if even sitting was too hard. “I killed my dad.”

Jaejoong wiped away the tears from his face with the sleeve of his pajama top. He wanted to comfort the other man, but the words escaped him. Yunho’s father had been such a kind, good man…and their actions had resulted in his death. He had died because of them, and nothing Jaejoong told Yunho could ever change that fact.

“How do I tell her? How do I tell her I killed Dad? How do I tell her she is a widow with two young kids and baby, now?” Yunho cried out with unimaginable grief. “I don’t deserve to live.”

“I don’t know…I don’t know…I don’t know,” Jaejoong repeated softly, over and over. “I don’t know.”

“He burned up…I couldn’t save him. He just burned…” Yunho paused as his whole body was wracked with sobs.

Jaejoong squatted on the floor, unsteady legs threatening to give out as another fire from years ago sprang to memory. He pushed those old memories aside and focused on Yunho and the sight the other man had been forced to watch, helplessly. How would he ever survive witnessing such a sight, knowing his actions…their actions had led to it? How did anybody survive knowing such a thing? “I don’t know,” Jaejoong whispered.

“How do I tell her? I don’t know how to tell her Dad is dead…I just don’t know how.”

Jaejoong, who was struggling for a way to ease Yunho’s pain, reminded him, “She knew about the wreck…that’s why she fell down the stairs. That’s what Mrs. Fields said when she took Hana and Junsu, remember?” Yunho turned to look at Jaejoong with widened eyes, and he instantly knew he had said the wrong thing. “I don’t know what to say,” Jaejoong told him, miserably. “I don’t know how to make this better.”

“There is nothing you can say,” Yunho answered with a slightly raised voice. “Nothing can make this better; there are no words. No words.”

A doctor and a nurse walked into the waiting room, sparing Jaejoong from having to respond to the despondent man. The doctor walked up to Yunho, who had gotten up from his chair when the doctor entered the room. Jaejoong stood back up as soon as the doctor started apologizing. Words and phrases like blood loss, blood failing to clot, abruptio placentae, and DIC could be heard as Jaejoong’s world spun out of control. He fought to keep his feet planted firmly on the floor.

It slowly registered with Jaejoong that Mrs. Jung was dead. Mrs. Jung was dead. Mrs. Jung, who had always been so extremely kind to him…she had taught him to cook. She had not survived…just like Mr. Jung had not survived. They were both dead. They had both welcomed him into their lives and their home. Their door had always been open to him. They had made him feel at home, when he didn’t even know what a home was. They were both dead, and he had contributed to their death. He had killed the kindest, warmest people he had ever known.

He forced himself to look at Yunho, surprised to find that Yunho had stopped crying. Instead his handsome face was deathly still, as the full consequences of his actions were truly understood for the first time. Jaejoong watched the frozen Yunho, wishing he could go back in time; wishing he could undo everything that had led to this moment. He made many a silent plea to God but if the great deity of everything had heard him, he gave no sign.

“Are you family?”

Jaejoong jumped, surprised by the voice. He looked away from Yunho to find the nurse standing beside him.

“No,” Jaejoong answered, shaking all over. “I was a friend…they took me in. They were…Mrs. Jung was always good to me. She was better than…she was more of a mom to me…than anybody else ever was. Mr. Jung too….he was really good to me. He was like a big teddy bear…kinda gruff, but not gruff at all. I wasn’t family though; I just always wished I was.”

“That’s close enough,” the nurse answered, causing Jaejoong to really look at her, and what she was holding.

“Is that…?”

The nurse nodded her head. “He survived; he’s a strong boy.”

“He?”

“Yes, it’s a boy.”

Jaejoong looked at the baby, horrified, and his voice squeaked, “He doesn’t have a mom.”

The nurse shook her head. “No, he doesn’t; but he is going to need someone. His brother is in no shape to hold him.”

“You want me to hold him?”

The nurse nodded her head, and gently placed the baby in Jaejoong’s arms, and told him kindly, “His mother can’t hold him, so I think it’s important that somebody who obviously loved her hold him for her.”

Jaejoong gazed down at the newborn, forcing his body to stop shaking as he held the sleeping baby…a completely innocent sleeping baby who would never get a chance to know his amazing parents. An infant born into tragedy, a tragedy that Jaejoong had contributed to. Jaejoong vowed he would do everything he could to make it up to the child, and to everyone. He would be whatever they needed him to be.

                                                      Chapter One
Wow! Such a tragedy! But what, in the name of God, did they do to provoke it? Both Yunho's parents dead... And an infant without parents. I hope Jaejoong will take good care of him.