We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at stars.

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Penance: Chapter 2a
Title: Penance
Pairing: YunJae
Rating: G
Length: Chaptered
Genre: Angst, drama
Summary: Yunho once chose kinship over love, and is now willing to do anything as penance for his act of betrayal.

Prologue | Chapter 1

He first noticed the car. Audi, sedan, sleek, and beautiful. It was made of a dark burgundy with a subtle metallic sheen which made the car glisten under the sun, drawing admiring gazes to its elegance. Yet, it was not ostentatious. Just like-

Then, he noticed its owner, tall and regal in a long navy double-breasted wool coat, leaning against the side of the car as if he was posing for a car catalogue. He was staring right back at him.

The staring match lasted for a good minute, long enough for those sparkling deep-set eyes to convey all sorts of complicated emotions which almost triggered Jaejoong’s flight instinct. He was not ready to confront those feelings on his first day of freedom. It was far too early, far too soon. He had promised himself that he would savour the sweet happiness that came with his newly regained autonomy and be as carefree as he wanted; he deserved it. Everything else would have to wait.

Sensing his apprehension, the man abruptly broke eye contact, and schooled his features, tucking away all his conflicted thoughts and emotions for the one man he thought most deserved to be happy. His love. 

He smirked. Jaejoong shook his head and smiled fondly at the man. Some things never change. Only this man could smirk at him without getting his infamous icy death glare in return. He had earned it anyway, for visiting as much as his busy schedule allowed, for reminding him that there was a new safe haven waiting for him to return to upon his release.

In an elegant gait, he walked towards Jaejoong and ruffled his soft hair affectionately before pulling him into a tight hug. A hug that conveyed a sad longing, a hug that made him feel warm and secure, one that this man wouldn’t have deign to give in the past with his aversion to affectionate bodily contact. Surprised and heartened that the cold man before him had finally cracked, he returned the embrace, relishing his first genuine hug in a long while.

“I miss you so much, you have no idea.” The man tightened the hug, and Jaejoong felt a strong, possessive grip over his waist. This man sure didn’t wait to get to the point. Jaejoong paused thoughtfully. He appreciated the overt affection that the man had showered upon him instantaneously, and rather uncharacteristically at that, but there was a part of that affection that he could never reciprocate. This had nagged at him for years as he debated whether to remain willfully blind and ignorant, or to acknowledge it but risk tearing him up by dismissing it thereafter. It hurt, knowing that the kind, steadfast man was still hopeful. He would have to continue treading carefully.

“Hmm, I miss you too. You got work done?” Urgh. Smooth Jaejoong, smooth. The man broke the hug and looked at him, puzzled.

“You don’t look like someone who’s pass thirty.” And the smirk made a reappearance.

“I have good genes. You should know by now. You’ve seen your fair share.” The cheeky bastard wriggled his eyebrows suggestively, which earned him a hard smack on his arm.

“Gross.” Ouch, the skin on his palm twitched in pain. Those are some serious guns.

“Come on, we should head off. It’s not good to keep other people waiting.” Jaejoong’s heart clenched tightly.

“P-people?” He questioned uncertainly. Surely it can’t be. Not there please, he wasn’t ready! He looked up to the man desperately for reassurance, but was left hanging as he had turned and was heading to the car. He followed urgently.  

“Changmin ah-”

“We’ll see.” With a pointed stare, the older man had decisively closed the issue.

As Changmin sped on and adroitly navigated the way, they maintained a comfortable silence in the car. He had been tense initially, but the observant man beside had sensed it and taken his hand, kissed it, and rubbed soothing circles with his thumb. His hand was held for the rest of the drive. It was comforting, and his eyes drew close as he fell into a much-needed restful slumber, trusting the man to keep him safe and secure.   

The car glided to a stop once it reached the end of the gravel driveway he was well acquainted with. There, on the porch, stood his lovely aunt Ae Kyung. She had aged considerably since he last saw her, but in spite of those wallow cheeks, saggy eyebags and crow feet extending from weary glazed eyes, she will forever remain a rose in his eyes. A lady with a lovely heart, dedicated to raising the charges in her care as best she could, and always looking out for him. She was very supportive of him, but never in a stifling way. He often pondered how different his life would be if he hadn’t moved to the Jungs. How different would it be, if he hadn’t been convinced by Ae Kyung that the Jungs were his key to a bright future, that they were better positioned to nurture him the way a person like him deserved.

Lunch was a quiet affair with Ae Kyung and Changmin. Ae Kyung had prepared a few of his favourites – an extra-spicy kimchi chigae, beef bone soup, marinated raw leek salad, and dok-beokki and soondae mixed in a flaming hot sauce. He wouldn’t have preferred it any other way, and was thankful that the only remaining constants in his life still remembered his preferences after all these years. He stuffed himself appreciatively, having worked up a voracious appetite after a long drive and years of deprivation.

He and Changmin sat against the old willow, wrapped in a thick, fluffy duvet each. Changmin was highly-resistant to spending such a long time outside in the biting cold but he was eager to see his old afternoon companion. He had stalked off towards the weeping willow and gasped at its breathtaking beauty. He reminisced how the willow tree had lay as backdrop to many wonderful times. In winter, the four of them had lunged at each other after throwing snow bombs, and built big fat snowmen when enough snow had accumulated. In autumn, they had camped out on the grass and drifted to sleep after a night of star-gazing. In spring, they enjoyed the picnic spread he prepared single-handedly; the fools were hazards in the kitchen and suitably barred from entering. In summer, they had brought the dogs and cats out to play on the wide expanse of grass. The four merry men.

They were merry back then, when no one carried the wounds from unrequited love, and no one was smarting from the wounds of betrayals. They were carefree and uninhibited with each other because they had loved each other unconditionally and accepted each other’s flaws as they were. They were so close that they had spent most of their free time together – studying, exercising, gallivanting about town, and even sneaking the Jungs’ Rolls Royce out in the wee hours of the morning to speed down the streets of MyungDong.

But that was then.

Will they ever be the same again?

He didn’t know.

Note: And that was present day, continuing from where we left off in the prologue. Were you all surprised by Changmin's appearance? Who else will make the four? And who is smarting from hidden wounds? Take a guess ~ Yunho's coming up really really soon. Feel free to ask if you have any questions, and do let me know your thoughts (: Have a good weekend.

Thanks for the update! Can't wait for the next one. Looks like a lot of things are slowly gonna be revealed. A lot of secrets and looks like a certain Jung is a bit to blame? But I have to wait.

Yeppers, the next one should be coming soon. There may not be that many secrets, it's just stuff that is difficult to reveal in one shot, so bear with me..

Thanks for reading and commenting (:

gosh i'm SUCH a sucker for angst hehe :) thank you for updating!!

but there's no angst here, is there? thanks for reading, i can never properly expressed how much i appreciate you guys checking this out. (:

I wonder what happened. What did YH do? Urrgh......dying of curiosity.... Plus, plus update.

Re: Dying to know.......

urgh, but what YH did will only be revealed much later i'm afraid! it's gonna take time with chapters alternating between the past and the present. Is this alternating confusing? Do let me know, and thanks for reading!

Hungry for more to reveal....

i will try my best to reveal as much as soon as i can. btw, is it confusing to alternate chapters between the past and present?

thanks for reading (:

I love it when u described the different things done for each season. It was really beautiful. And I can't wait for u to reveal more of what's actually happening. And wow,jaemin seems popular these days...if I didn't misunderstood what u wrote...haha.

Anyways,thanks for this update ^^

Well, i like jaemin, but mostly as a plot device to the ultimate otp. hee, hope that was clear.

thanks, i was inspired by pictures of willow trees in different seasons, and how it set the mood for different activities. glad you liked that part, it came to me with a sudden tick.

and thanks for reading (:

I like jae min but my otp is yunjae 😍

I like the cadence of this chapter, how each time frame is captured perfectly

i like jaemin too, and mostly as a plot device to the ultimate otp YJ (: so fret not! there will be no rude shocks in this aspect.

thanks for telling me what you fancied in this chapter. i'm actually most worries about time frames, and alternating whole chapters between the past and the present. Is it confusing? Let me know what you think.

And more importantly, thanks for reading!

I find it really hard to comment on the last two chapters, including this one, only because I feel like I can't without knowing the whole story, or at least a bit more of the other half of it. I mean, I know Jaejoong was been locked up for seven years, meaning he was 19 years old when he entered. He was raped during his time, which really really breaks my heart. I was feeling emotional that day and then I read that paragraph and I started wailing like a baby lol The Jungs, or more like a certain Jung, had to do with his sentence but I really don't know that specifically. I think I'm just too eager to know what happened and what will happen. Don't get me wrong though, your writing style is so lovely that I admire it so much and the story plot is really awesome <3 I just need to be patient for what will come X)
Actually, how long will the story be because I hope it will be long? lol
Anyway, thank you for the update and I hope your are doing well ^~^

i'm honestly quite sorry that the prologue elicited such a reaction from you. it may be shocking, but there are many people who have encountered the same sort of betrayal and rape in prison in reality. unfortunately, the way the law is drafted often leaves loopholes for the guilty to circumvent, and also infer guilt on innocent people.

i took care not to be too graphic and extreme in describing jae's emotions, but somehow the prologue still ended up angst-ridden.

It is going to be a long story so i'll have to pace myself, and hope you will stay on for the rest of the ride.

The next part is already in the works, and you should be able to catch a glimpse of Yunho's POV. In the mean time, i hope you have a good weekend, and thanks for reading <3

Changmin? I thought it was Yunho. And I was kind of confused at the beginning about the time frame. But reading ahead it got ok. I can't wait for more :)
Good work

oh dear, i apologize for the confusion at the start. i wanted to write in a way that will keep the suspense and throw you off once the name was revealed, and plant more questions as to why Changmin was the one who turned up.

I re-read it myself after posting, and it occurred to me that the chapters require quite a bit of focus to read to notice the hints; it is definitely not something i could have handled as a leisure read before bed. Should i give a signpost of the time frame right at the start of each chapter?

Thanks for reading, I'll try my best to update regularly.

yay!!!!!another awesome fic to read.....cant wait 4 yunho to show up n i eager to noe wat he did to hurt my precious jae.....the pain jae went through while in prison....how could u betray him yunho??????i love the suspense n will eagerly wait 4 upcoming chapters...

Glad that you like the suspense because it is precisely my intention to make you eager with the peekaboo hints - read too fast and you may miss them.

Thanks for reading!

oh i love this update...revealing it slowly but surely..i wonder what yh did to hurt j n let him rot in jail for 8 years..how can j forgive him??? sigh we will see in time i guess..

nx update pls..

Yes more will be revealed. Perhaps we'll be more sympathetic towards Yunho soon.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment, the next part is up (:

Edited at 2013-02-03 06:00 pm (UTC)

I'm really enjoying your writing style, the way you drop hints but still draw out the reveal of who the character is. You have a real flair for describing the scene as well, and I'm looking forward to your future posts. Good work!

Thanks for the feedback, i am glad that you enjoyed reading (: Btw, the second part of chapter 2 is up.

the JaeMin interaction was so sweet <3 i really thought he was Yunho for a moment before it mentioned that he visited often and i was like "well, the only person who resembles Yunho that much is Changmin" xD
why four?!? why not five?!? :P
looking forward to the next part~

Oh, nah i don't think Changmin resembles Yunho that much...

Why four? You'll see why shortly, it's all for a plot device.

Just for a heads up, the next part is up. Thanks for taking the time to read and letting me know your thoughts.

So Changmin was visiting him, that's good. I'm glad he wasn't all alone. Changmin seems to really like Jae, but Jae doesn't quite feel the same, right? Still wondering why Yunho stopped visiting...

I thought it was Yun Ho at first XDD Almost gave me a heart attack. It seems that Min has this little crush towards JJ, which is kinda cute. And I totally gives him merit for visiting Jaejong in the jail.

well, i think you are going to suffer more near heart attacks in future chapters. this ain't the worst...

Changmin! I thought it would Yunho xD
I need more *-*


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