CHAPTER 9: Jinwoon, Taecyeon, and the Truth
“I’m so sorry, Woon.”
“That’s okay, Seul, don’t worry.” Jinwoon chuckled. He swung the door in front of him. “I myself have just arrived.” He spotted Seulong was still sleeping soundlessly. “Your brother hasn’t waked up yet.” He informed.
“He is? Wow, he sleeps a lot.” Seulin commented. “I’ll make sure Taecyeon Oppa eats real fast. I’ll shove them all to his mouth.” Seulin promised.
Jinwoon sensed invisible worry in her words. “I’ll wait until you come here, Seul. No need to worry.” He assured her. He heard her sighed. “Unless you don’t want me to wait for you.” He said in such a sad tone—fake, of course.
“No, no, wait for me!” she said quickly, panic. “I mean… I promised you to come and see you practicing today… and I don’t want to break my promise.” She added in mumbling tone.
Jinwoon chuckled in discreet. “I know, I know. I’ll wait for you.”
“Just thank you?” He leaned to the sofa he’s sitting.
“Eh?” Seulin raised her eyebrow. ‘Am I supposed to say something else?’
“You don’t want to buy me anything as your apology for being late?”
‘I should?’Seulin frowned. “Alright. What do you want me to buy?”
“Bring me your beautiful smile.”
Seulin couldn’t believe her ears. Her face soon turned into crimson and she was at loss of words. In fact she lost her concentration on everything. She didn’t realize Taecyeon shot her questioning look and mouthed her as ‘boiled lobster’.
On the other line, Jinwoon chuckled subtly again, satisfied with what he had done to her. “Don’t make me wait too long, okay? See you later.” With that, he ended the call.
Jinwoon looked at the sleeping Seulong and laughed wholeheartedly. “Ah, what have I done?” He cupped his cheeks to stop his laughter. “You know, Hyung, after meeting her again, I become fond of flattering her. I don’t know but every time I see her… I just can’t help it.”
His mind flew to his old days with Seulin. They knew each other practically since they were still in pampers because they were next door neighbor. He remembered there were times his mother took him to the Ims’ house and she would chat with Mrs. Im while he spent the time by playing PlayStation with Seulong or drawing pictures with Seulin. Sometimes their mothers would cook them some cakes and cookies. That’s such a beautiful memory of the past.
As time went by, the business of their respective families developed to a good point. However, the consequence was the lacks of family time. The story was a little better for Jinwoon, because at some time when he was in his first years of elementary school, his mother got pregnant again, but it was a troublesome one so his mother needed bed rest and she stopped from all business-related activities. During that time, they managed to get even closer to each other. Meanwhile for the Ims… the more the day passed the further the distance between the parents and the kids. At that time, Jinwoon was the only friend for Seulin. She did befriend with other children at school, but she never really opened up to them. After Seulong, Jinwoon was the only one she shared stories with.
Jinwoon knew very well that around a month before his leaving, Seulin looked at him in a different way. He would catch her staring at him for a long time from time to time. Though it’s not that obvious, he could feel her burning stares when other girls did some physical contacts with him. He sensed her dropping shoulders every time he said he got to go and couldn’t accompany her. He also noticed there’s something in her smiles to him, the way she gazed at him…
But being a 7th grader he was, what could he do? He was too young for love, at least that’s what he thought. ‘What is love actually? Is that even called love? How can I know that it is love?’ Little Jinwoon couldn’t really figure it out. So he decided to shrug it off, treat her the same way as he always did. Pretending to be oblivious with her slight changes. He didn’t want to lose a good friend he cherished the most just because his too anxious mind. ‘What if she doesn’t mean anything—if those changes are just her newly-developed way to show her caring?’
Then his family moved out to another town. He really didn’t mean to stop contacting her and the others, but the fire cut all his communication means to them and quite shook his family’s state as well. Why didn’t Jinwoon try to contact them via social networking sites? Well, let’s say it’s not Jinwoon’s thing. He even had just made an email account because he needed one when he was dealing with the scholarship thing.
During the time away from her, he had always been wondering. How would Seulin treat him when they meet again sometime later? Would she still turn to him with those sparkly eyes in response to him calling her name?
The sound of the door swung stopped Jinwoon’s mind from wandering further. He looked up and saw a man in typical doctor’s white attire. ‘This man is too pretty to be a doctor.’ Jinwoon thought and stood up to greet him. He took out his hand. “Good afternoon, Dr…?”
“Kim Jaejoong, but you can call me Dr Kim.” He shook his hand. “And you…?”
“I’m Jung Jinwoon.” he flashed his trademark smile.
“Ah, you are the man from last night. Seulin’s boyfriend, right?” Dr Kim shot right into the bull’s eye.
Jinwoon choked. Unconsciously he scratched his not itchy head. “Oh, no… I’m just… her friend.”
A smile crept on Dr Kim’s face. “I see. So it hasn’t been official, eh?” he said knowingly.
Jinwoon laughed it off nervously.
“You know, it’s just a matter of time before you two become an item.” He said as he started examining Seulong. “I’m right, aren’t I?”
Jinwoon continued his nervous chuckle. “Let’s not talk about this, Doctor. How is Seulong Hyung?” He found it awkward to discuss such thing with stranger. Well, Dr Kim may not be stranger for the Ims, but still… Moreover, things weren’t really settled yet between Seulin and him.
“Seulong is basically good. However, I still cannot find the problematic nerves. It seems we need to do some more examinations.” Dr Kim caught Jinwoon’s puzzled look.
“Problematic nerves?” Jinwoon’s tone was mixture of confused and worried. He sensed something not good.
“Seulong had shock and it caused him to be in coma state. Didn’t Taecyeon tell you all last night?” Dr Kim stopped examining Seulong and faced Jinwoon.
“W-what? Hyung is… coma?” Jinwoon’s face paled.
“Ah, I guess he didn’t.” Dr Kim bit his lip, and then explained to Jinwoon. “Seulong had quite hard shock on his head, and he experienced hypoxia. Hypoxia is a state where the brain lacking oxygen supply; and it is most likely happened because of bleeding. It also seems that the shock caused some nerves to reallocate, so they cannot work properly.” He summed up his explanation. “Taecyeon really didn’t tell you? It’s strange; he said he would inform this to Seulin so I didn’t have to meet her last night.”
“No, he didn’t.” Jinwoon’s face turned dark. “I wonder why. Seulin is Hyung’s sister; she has every right to know about her brother condition.”
“Maybe Taecyeon wanted to wait for the right time to tell her. I’m sure he didn’t mean to hide the truth.” Dr Kim tried to defend Taecyeon.
“And when is the right time? Seulin definitely will be hurt when she finds the truth, sooner or later, but she needs to know. What he did, in fact it only worse everything. It doesn’t help Seulong Hyung to recover, nor lessen Seulin’s pain when she finds out.” Jinwoon didn’t like the fact Taecyeon knew something important related to Im siblings while he didn’t. He befriended with them before Taecyeon, so why he knew this thing after Taecyeon? Dr Kim defending Taecyeon only made Jinwoon resent Taecyeon more.
“Easy, Jinwoon. Taecyeon does care about the Ims, he is just doing what he thinks the best for them, though maybe it’s not really the best.” Dr Kim took a few steps toward Jinwoon and patted his shoulder. “Instead of confronting Taecyeon for not quickly tell the truth, why don’t you two figure out the best way to tell Seulin? That’s the most important thing to do now.” Dr Kim pointed his view. “Now if you excuse me, I have to check on other patients.” He didn’t wait for Jinwoon to answer and left the room.
Jinwoon stared at the motionless Seulong cluelessly. ‘What to do, Hyung?’
He could imagine how broken Seulin’s heart would be. She thinks of him as her hero. She idolizes him. Practically, Seulong is almost like her everything.
And he didn’t know if he could stand watching her heart breaking down.
Seulin pulled Taecyeon’s arm with one hand while her other one holding a paper bag of fresh bread. When he whined his arms was hurt, she grabbed his collar and dragged him along the corridor. This, of course, earned disapproving shout from the older one.
“Yah, since when you start grabbing someone’s collar? And to make it worse it is someone who is older than you!”
Seulin quickly let go of his collar and showed her puppy eyes, apologizing. “I’m sorry. But it’s because you won’t walk faster! I told you I have to arrive before 2, and it’s only five minutes to 2 now. I don’t have much time.”
“Tsk, he won’t leave until you arrive, didn’t he say that? So you’re free to arrive whenever.” He mocked her.
“I don’t want to be inconsiderate and trouble him by making him late for his practice.” She shrugged. “So you better walk faster, Oppa, or I’ll walk by myself.” She folded her arms.
Taecyeon sighed. “Okaaaay…” he threw his arm around her shoulders, and started walking at the pace she wanted him to. “Nothing I won’t do for My Princess.”
Seulin laughed at his words, hit his chest playfully. “Keep your sweet talks Oppa, they won’t work on me.”
Seulin’s beam returned to her face as she swung the door of her brother’s room. “Hi! Sorry Jinwoon, have you waited for long?” she got his somehow weird smile in return. She handed him the bag she was holding.
“What is it?” Jinwoon asked as he opened the bag with his left hand. His right hand didn’t let go of her hand she used to hand the bag. “Hmm, smells yummy. Thank you, Seul.” He picked one and bit it. His eyes widened, denoting he enjoyed the bread. He offered the bread—yes, the bread he had just bit—to Seulin.
She shook her head. “I’m full already.” She was about to walk to Seulong’s side when she felt his hand gripping on hers restrained her step. She tilted her head slightly, looked at him questioningly. Jinwoon, still chewing his bread, raised his brow.
“What?” he asked with his full mouth, played innocent.
Taecyeon watched the scene from the other side of the room in disgust. ‘Who does he think he is?!’ He was in the middle of thinking a way to disturb them when Seulin brought a topic stung him.
“Woon, how is Oppa?”
Well, it wasn’t Seulin’s question that panicked him, but Jinwoon’s answer to be exact.
“Dr Kim was here earlier. Basically he said Hyung is fine, but he said some details—but I don’t remember them. He used medical terms that I can’t understand.” Jinwoon shrugged. “Why don’t we go to his office so you can listen to his explanation? I’m sure you’ll understand; you were always on the top three in class back then.” He glanced at Taecyeon who was paled in instant.
Seulin nodded, agreed with Jinwoon’s suggestion. But before she could utter a word, Taecyeon cut with his over-loud groan mixed with curse. Seulin turned her head. Jinwoon snorted discreetly seeing Taecyeon held his stomach and put on painful expression.
“Seulin-ah, I left my phone in the car, can you get it for me? I’m waiting a call but I need to use the toilet now.” Taecyeon approached and held her arm. “Please? Please?” he pleaded.
Seulin sighed. Behind her, Jinwoon rolled his eyes. “Okay.” She said, but the next second she looked at him inquiringly. “Who is it? Whose call are you waiting?” Seulin got excited that she didn’t realize Taecyeon was leading her to the door.
Taecyeon stifled an awkward laugh. “You’ll get to know sooner.”
“Is it the girl you are seeing now?” She spoke her guess. “But it will be uncomfortable if I answer her call for you.” She frowned.
“Yah, did I ask you to answer the call? I only asked you to take it from my car. Don’t you dare to even unlock it.” Taecyeon threatened as he shoved her out of the room.
Seulin stuck her tongue to Taecyeon. She then realized she was going to meet Dr Kim with Jinwoon. “Woon, wait for a while, okay? I won’t be long.” She promised. When she saw Jinwoon smiled, she immediately run along the corridor.
Jinwoon was obvious that Taecyeon didn’t want Seulin to meet Dr Kim, but since he wanted to know why he kept it a secret, he decided to let him continue his play.
As Seulin was nowhere in his sight, Taecyeon closed the door and sighed. He caught Jinwoon staring at him with burning eyes.
“Your stomach has just healed, hasn’t it?” Jinwoon mocked in cold tone.
Taecyeon was somewhat taken a back. ‘Seems like he knows something.’ He tried to play cool. “Not really, but it gets better now.”
“You can put off your act in front of me; I know what you are hiding.” Jinwoon crossed his arms.
Taecyeon’s face stiffened, but he was not going to give up yet. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, come on, you clearly don’t want Seulin meets Dr Kim, and that could only mean,” Jinwoon paused; he didn’t really like saying what he would say next. “Seulong Hyung is not really fine.”
“What are you talking about? You yourself told Seulin that Dr Kim said basically Seulong Hyung is fine.” Taecyeon countered.
“Oh, come on! Do you expect me to tell her directly that Seulong Hyung is in coma?!” Jinwoon exploded. His face was reddened from holding back his anger. “You hid that truth from her!”
“And did you tell her the truth? You also didn’t tell her!” Taecyeon shouted back to him. He didn’t like this stranger blaming him. ‘It was none of his business!’
“But I’m going to take her to Dr Kim so she will get proper explanation, and you get in the way!” Jinwoon continued fuming with his bass voice. “Do you plan to make her know nothing till the end?”
“I don’t mean to hide it, okay?! I just don’t want her to be hurt when she finds out. I want to wait for the right time to tell her.” Taecyeon run his hands between his hairs, frustrated.
“That won’t lessen her pain. She will definitely hurt, sooner or later she finds out.” Jinwoon stated as a matter of fact.
Taecyeon sighed. Though he admitted every words of Jinwoon were true, he still couldn’t bring himself to let Seulin discover the truth. What if she couldn’t take it and break down? Taecyeon stared at motionless Seulong blankly, wishing he would smack him as usual while yelling instructions for him to do.
“Right after she’s back, I’ll take her to Dr Kim. You better tell her beforehand or be prepared to be blamed; it’s your decision.” Jinwoon gave him ultimatum.
Taecyeon stared at Jinwoon coldly. “If you want to see her in deep sorrow, go ahead.”
“Not telling her will not lessen her pain, Taecyeon-ssi, for goodness sake; I think I have told you that, do I need to remind you hundred times more?” Jinwoon raised his voice, irritated that Taecyeon defended on the same reason.
“Just wait for the right time, can’t you? I’m sure I’ll manage to find that time soon. You can leave that to me.”
Jinwoon snorted. ‘This guy is annoyingly stubborn.’ “Do it your way and I’ll do it my way.” He said in the end. He had enough nerve-wrecking conversation with that stupid flamboyant guy. He didn’t want to stay at the same room with him anymore, so he turned his heels and headed out. He walked out of the room while grumbling silently. ‘I wonder why Hyung is able to befriend with him—‘ His jaw suddenly dropped.
“Seulin…” he said faintly. Taecyeon, who automatically turned to his direction upon hearing him calling her name, was again paled and started panicking. Their eyes were fixed on Seulin’s figure standing right in front of the door, facing them with plain, hard to read expression. She didn’t seem shock nor surprised, and there were no traces of tears on her face. There was simply no expression.
“You forgot to give me your car keys, Oppa.”
Would Seulin get mad at Taecyeon? Would she shatter into pieces upon hearing the truth? That's for the next chapter ;)