Yoochun sits quietly on the rooftop of the Hayashi manor, overlooking the amber sky of
Yoochun remembers when he first found this place on the roof as a child—he had been playing hide and seek with Jaejoong and Riin. He was sick and tired of his sister finding him so easily, and so he climbed and climbed and found himself in his own little world. Perched from his place up high, he could see everything that went on across the expansive Hayashi estate. He remembers the view as he reached the top of his mountain so clearly: the lush green gardens, watery blue ponds and dark coloured stones. He could see in the distance people moving about, unguarded. The feeling of power swelled inside of Yoochun’s small stomach as he towered above the world.
His sister would never find him playing hide and seek again.
It was rare, such moments, for Yoochun to escape the world he grew up in. He was never one them—one of the children of Hayashi, forced to carry a burden of unwanted death. He had none of the same kind of pain Yeonhee knows, Changmin knows, Boa knows. He was always on the outside, looking in, a passenger on this ship by way of his mother’s marriage. It was one of the reasons why he became friends with Jaejoong so easily, he thinks.
He remembers that day oddly clearly (for he has always had a bad memory, even forgetting Riin’s birthday one year, resulting in a black eye and bruised lip).
Riin had woken him up unceremoniously in the middle of the night, pushing at his forehead, with only the soft cascading sound of rain.
“Oppa, wake up,” she whined, shoving him harshly. “Oppa!”
Young Yoochun groaned tiredly as he sat up, rubbing his eyes, hair stuck towards the side oddly. Riin giggled at him, sitting on her knees on the edge of his bed. He frowned at his sister.
“What, Riin?” he complained. “It’s like…so late…I don’t have class tomorrow…why can’t you let me sleep?” He flopped back down on his bed.
“But oppa!” she whined, pushing him. “Something…something happened!”
“What? Monsters again?” he asked. “I’m not letting you sleep with me anymore…you kick in your sleep…”
“No, no, oppa! Appa brought a boy home!”
Confusedly, Yoochun sat up, peering at his sister curiously, her large brown eyes blinking at him with a bright smile across her lips. “Riin, what are you talking about?”
“Unnie was putting me to sleep, and then appa came home with uncle Tsutomu, and they brought a boy with them. His name is Jaejoong—appa said he was going to be living with us now,” Riin chirped gleefully. Yoochun could see her childish excitement. “He’s really pretty, like a doll! With really big eyes.” She giggled. “I like him, oppa! I want him to be my friend!”
“Riin ah…” Yoochun bemoaned, finding his sister getting ahead of herself again. “You dunno who he is or even if he wants to be your friend…”
“There’s no one else to play with here…unless he wanted to go all the way over to uncle Ryuji’s house…and that’s far!” Riin whined. “C’mon oppa! Come with me!”
“Come with you where?”
“To see Jaejoong!”
Yoochun cocked an eyebrow, an eventual habit of his when concerning his sister. “It’s late…he’s probably asleep. Leave him alone, Riin…” He yawned again. “You can sleep here if you like, but don’t go running about, araso?”
“But oppa…just come with me oppa!” She shook him, and finally, heaving an exasperated sigh, Yoochun sat up, causing Riin to smile in victory, knowing she had won.
She grabs his hand and pulls the older boy off the bed, quietly sliding open the door. In the dark of the night, embraced by the effervescent moon, they tip-toe down the hall till the reach a small room. Yoochun frets after his sister, anxious at her devious plans. But Riin only smiles charmingly at him before she gently slides open the door.
The two siblings poke their head in curiously.
With his dark hair and pale skin, Jaejoong practically glowed in the dark, the moon reflecting the silverness of his skin. He turns to them at the sound, making Yoochun blink at him with a shy smile—and as he grew older, he could honestly say that he has never seen anyone look the way that Jaejoong did that night. Positively like a ghost, but nothing so sort of horrifying about him. What it was, Yoochun still can’t put his finger on it. There was just some suspiciously mythological about him, as if Jaejoong weren’t really a person.
His sister skips into the room carelessly, plopping down in front of the boy who sits up on his futon bed, the light dancing through the window from the moon.
“Hi!” she chirps softly, practically beaming at him. “You remember me from before, right?”
Jaejoong gazes at her in confusion, before nodding his head.
“This is my oppa!” she says, dragging Yoochun till the three of them were all sitting on Jaejoong’s bed. “His name is Yoochun. Oppa, this is Jaejoong.”
Yoochun offers a warm smile to the demure boy, who only blinks at them with his pearly black eyes. Yoochun chuckles nervously, scratching the back of his head. “Sorry about Riin, she’s a bit crazy sometimes. It’s nice to meet you, Jaejoong.”
Jaejoong returns Yoochun’s warm smile—for Yoochun always had that trusting affect on people—and replies, “It’s nice to meet you, too.”
The three children became friends easily, because they were all of relatively the same age and the only children in the Main House. Riin was the Captain of their ship of make-belief, championing all of their games, and Jaejoong and Yoochun always tagged along behind, somewhat unwilling participants.
“We have a problem saying no to her,” Jaejoong once remarked as they recovered from a vicious game a hide and seek.
“Yeah, you go learn how to do that, and then tell me…I’m her brother, and even I submit to her,” Yoochun berates.
Yoochun and Jaejoong held a strange and strong bond, for they were both young men within a family that did not particularly welcome them—but where Yoochun wooed everyone with his words and magician charms, Jaejoong stayed away like a leper, always the obedient, quiet ghost boy. They were such perfectly unique contrasts of one another, people would often say of them, like day and night, black and white. Yoochun could always tell what was on his mind, and despite their differences, he thought they were a lot a like. But as they grew older, as Jaejoong’s role became larger and far more important, it was hard to find time to be people.
Sometimes, Yoochun wondered if that friendship was still there.
Because Jaejoong wasn’t a little kid anymore—he was no longer allowed to live the life of a commoner, and he didn’t allow himself those innocent joys.
Nevertheless, when they were together, he always loved to hear Yoochun’s stories (and Yoochun was a wonderful storyteller), he would always smile like he did that first time they met, and Yoochun thinks that Jaejoong lives a little through him.
The dark haired artist snaps out of his daze, and looks past his sketch book of the sky to see Jaejoong retreat from a room with Tukutz. Yoochun gulps, scared, as he stares at the marbled gargoyle of the clan. Their conversation, Yoochun watches, seemed intense and focused, and he knew they must be speaking of Brian Joo. Eventually, Tukutz disappears into the darkness where he was born, leaving Jaejoong alone.
Yoochun finds it interesting how two people so important to his father could be so drastically different.
Suddenly, for no reason, Jaejoong looks up and spots him. Yoochun beams at him and waves, and despite the surprise, Jaejoong manages to return that smile. Carefully, the artist tucks his pencils and sketchbook under his arm and descends back down to earth.
“So this is the hiding place you have been using all these years,” Jaejoong remarks playfully, hands tucked in the pockets of his suit. “I almost want to tell ojou.”
“Don’t,” Yoochun begs jesteringly. “You know how she is. I’ll never hear the end of it.”
“How are you?”
Yoochun shrugs as the two friends walk back onto the long terrace. “Same old. I’ve got an exhibition at Odaiba. You should come. But knowing you, the only way you’d ever see them is from my books,” he remarks, holding up his sketchbooks. “How are things with…you know?”
“Not everything is going as planned,” Jaejoong remarks, his answers, as always, cryptic. “I have done much to find truth, but still, the reality evades me.”
“Why do you think?”
“Because I do not think everything is as it appears—something is off, there is something off, but I cannot place my finger on it,” he answers honestly; Jaejoong never had the habit of lying to Yoochun. “They are being very careful. Abnormally so.”
“Are things that bad?” Yoochun asks anxiously.
Jaejoong shakes his head, “No, I do not think they are so terrible, yet. It is all just the start. They have not shown their cards. I worry when they do, it could pose a great threat to the family.”
“You should go see Riin,” he comments, causing the other man to turn to him. “She’s been worried about you, since you’ve gone all AWOL and stuff. I was lucky to see you today—but then, I was always good at find you. You sucked at hide and seek.”
Jaejoong grins gently. “Perhaps, but if I recall, you also…sucked.”
“Yeah well, no one could beat Riin at any game she loved,” he laughs. “Until, you know. I found this place.”
“I would like to see her,” he answers with a soft sigh. “But my presence, even now, puts everyone in jeopardy.
“Is that why you don’t see Tiffany anymore?” Jaejoong turns, a brow arched. Yoochun grins. “Ara knows everything. She—”
But before he could berate his little sister, a terrible, beastly scream irrupts through the manor, sending birds flying into the sky like a black cloud of bats.
Boa tries to remember who Jinho was, not the man who smiled at her with lips tainted in blood as he died in her arms. She tries to remember his jokes, how easily he made her smile, and all the secrets they shared. She tries to remember what he was before he died, before death took him from her. But seeing Brian again turned Boa inside out, made her bleed invisible crimson, made her want to weep and destroy and burn things. Seeing Brian made her remember that horrible night—remember the sight of Jinho’s eyes as his soul escaped his body and he abandoned her on Earth.
The dark haired woman lies languishly on her bed, eyes closed, drowning in the darkness of her bedroom. She knew this was wrong—she was being weak and pathetic, and this is not the woman Jinho would have wanted to see. But the fire inside of her was small and nearly burnt out, and she just couldn’t be bothered to feel, to want to feel.
All Boa wanted was to pretend that all her mistakes—her greatest mistake—did not just come back to haunt her.
“Boa?” came Tablo’s voice as he slides open the door. “Jesus, how emo are you? I mean, do I have to call an intervention here? Are you becoming goth?”
She smiles and chuckles, her back facing her brother. She feels him sit down on the edge of the bed, the aroma of fruit drifting through the room.
“You have pineapple?” she asks.
“Yep…” Tablo murmurs through a mouthful. “If you don’t sit up and eat, I’m gonna finish it all…It was a beautiful pineapple, too, all golden and stuff…freaking awesome…”
“What is with you and pineapples?” Boa wonders, turning around and looking at him in the dark, watching the older man munch on the juicy fruit. “If that’s a fetish, it’s really weird.”
“C’mon! Pineapples are great! Juicy, sweet, and delicious…plus they look funny…like an old wrinkly man…” He grins as he sticks a toothpick in a golden piece and sticking it in his sister’s mouth. “See? Totally delicious.”
Boa shakes her head as she sits up, turning on the light by her bed. She takes the bowl of fruit, sharing it with the writer. “Why are you here? Don’t you have book meetings and stuff?” she asks.
“Nah…” he says, shaking his head. “I can take time off. I’m worried about you—we all are—but mostly me, because I’m oh-so-cool like that.” He grins at her playful, making Boa smile. “But seriously, how are you feeling? You really should talk to father, you know…”
“I don’t want to fucking talk to anyone,” she remarks crudely, viciously sticking a toothpick into a piece of pineapple.
“Stuff is going on, you know…you may be in here, trying to pretend the world doesn’t exist, but it’s still going on…” he says. “The world is still turning, you can’t forget that, Boa.”
“I know…I know, god I fucking know…but I just…” she sighs and pauses, looking at her brother. “I just…I wish he weren’t here…”
She laughs sadly. “It’s my fault he’s still alive. I had the chance—so many chances. I had the chance to kill him, to stop all of this…but I didn’t…and he left. He killed everyone and left me.”
Tablo blinks, gazing at his sister’s pained expression. “Do you love him?”
Boa pauses, staring at him in surprise. “What?”
“…do you…still love him?”
The dark haired woman chuckles darkly. “How could I possibly love him after…after what happened to Jinho…”
“That’s not what I asked,” he states plainly. Tablo sighs, finishing the last piece of pineapple. “I know…how you felt about Jinho…that’s obvious enough; that’s probably what makes you so crazy half the time. But you have to acknowledge Brian, too. Whether or not you want to. You need to get over what happened between the two of you—you need closure.”
“He killed oppa,” she murmurs painfully. “He…killed him…without a second thought, forgetting all the years they were friends…and I let him do it…if I had gotten there faster, if I hadn’t stupidly sent him in that direction…”
“No, Boa…all of this would have happened anyways,” he says. “Brian is…Brian isn’t a person. He doesn’t really exist. And nothing you could have done would have stopped him and his goals.”
Boa looks at Tablo, eyes tired and red. “I didn’t…I didn’t tell them the truth.”
“What do you mean?” the writer asks inquisitively.
She pauses for a moment. “He said…he wanted me to join him…that he would kill Jitae for me…if I went back to him…”
“Whoa…” Tablo mutters, eyes widening. “You mean—he went there for you?” Boa nods. “Well this just changes everything. You have let father know.”
“Why? What does this have to do with anything?”
“Because! God, Boa, Brian’s not helping the Yoshio for money. The Yoshio’s are doing it for power, but Brian…this a vendetta. He’s not attacking us to help them, he’s helping them to attack us.” Tablo sighs, looking down in thought. “For whatever reason, he’s making this personal…which means he is putting way more out on the line here…He’s after something a lot bigger, whatever that is…He wants…you, which means he’s set his eyes not just on the family itself.” He stops, turning to look at her with a frown. “It may have something to do with what happened with Jinho seven years ago. He disappeared for this long, he does not come back just to play lacky…”
“What do you think he’s after, then?” she asks.
Tablo shakes his head. “I dunno. But you need to tell father. This changes…just everything.”
“I don’t want to…” she moans irritably as she stands, staring at herself in the mirror.
“You have to. They have to know. Or we’re sunk,” he says adamantly.
Boa grins at him in the mirror. “I thought you didn’t care for the family business…”
“No…I don’t, but I’d like to see people stay alive,” he answers with a smile. “So are you going to? Finally talk to father?”
“I will…I know I will…” she says softly. “I’m not some little bitch like Jitae…” She smirks darkly, causing Tablo to laugh.
And suddenly there is a scream that echoes through the room from outside—a bloody, bleeding and vicious shriek, the sound of a wild beast. The two siblings snap their heads in the direction of the noise, eyes wide with shock.
“What the fuck was that?” Boa asks.
Tablo frowns as he rises. “I think…I think that was Ara…”
“Nee-chan, let me go!”
Yukie runs down the hall at the sound of the scream, finding Riin and Ara in a room by the garden.
“Nee-chan, let me go!” Ara hisses, struggling against the older girl, but Riin has an iron grip on her, unmoving. Yukie blinks in confusion as she watches them struggle. Daesung stands at the side looking on nervously. And then Yukie notices them—a young man, a shatei named Hyunjoong, who belonged to Seunghyun’s group, and Tiffany—kneeling on the ground in shame and terror.
“Ara, calm down!” Riin shouts, trying to contain the taller girl. “Just…calm down, okay!”
“Riin, what’s going on?” Yukie asks, stepping into the room.
Ara screams angrily. “That fucker…goddammit, Nee-chan let me go!”
“You calm down and then I’ll let you go!” Riin shouts back. And finally, Ara stops struggling, heaving deep angry breathes. Just then, Tablo and Boa appear, with Jaejoong and Yoochun and a few other guards not far behind.
“What the fuck is going on?” Boa utters, looking around. She turns a sharp eye on Daesung. “Well?”
The younger boy opens his mouth, but he’s instantly silenced as Ara shoots him a vicious look. “Daesungie…” she breathes threateningly. “Tell the men to go away. Tell them.”
“Y-Yes ojou,” he stutters as he drags the guards away, leaving only Tablo, Boa, Yoochun and Jaejoong behind to join the commotion. Tiffany looks up with wet eyes, a hint of shock and fear in them as she sees Jaejoong standing at the door with Yoochun. The dark haired man eyes the situation, but there’s not a single expression on his face.
“Oppa…” she murmurs in a whisper.
“What’s going on?” Tablo asks worriedly. “Ara, are you okay?”
“Oh, I’m just fine, Tablo-nii,” she smiles terribly. “You wanted to meet my boyfriend, right? Well there he is…” She points forward.
“You’ve been dating Hyunjoong?” Boa asks, shocked.
Ara nods, that terrible smile still on her face as she glares at the two people in front of her on the ground. “Well, I thought I was, but I’m certainly sure we aren’t together now that he’s knocked Tiffany up!” she shrieks at the man on the ground. The audience in the room turn to the two in shock. Hyunjoong and Tiffany dare not look up; and the dark haired girl sniffles under Ara’s violent gaze. “What, did you think I would fucking sugar coat it!?” she roars.
Riin groans irritably, holding back her younger sister. “Ara…just calm down, okay?”
“How can I when my boyfriend just went and fucked some slut!?” she screams. “And got her pregnant to boot!” She shakes her head angrily.
Yoochun moves to Riin’s side as the room falls silent. He stands by his sister and whispers into her ear, “What the hell?”
“I saw Hyunjoong and Tiffany together…I didn’t know Ara was seeing him. I just knew she was seeing Jae, and I mentioned it offhandedly to Ara…and then this happened,” she replies, her eyes darting towards Jaejoong, his face stoned, never leaving him. “I didn’t think she would go off like this.”
“That’s sure presumptuous of you,” Yoochun remarks, eyeing the two on the ground. “You know how dramatic Ara is…and now nee-chan is here too…” He folds his arms together, his hand rubbing his mouth, eyeing Boa. “God, this is gonna get ugly.”
“Tell me about it,” Riin murmurs to him. “Before you got here, I could barely keep Ara from ripping them apart.”
“Okay, okay…so let me get this straight,” says Boa, stalking into the center, standing beside Riin and Ara. “You dated my little sister, and then went behind her back to fuck some whore?” She glares at the man on the ground. He doesn’t move a single muscle, but Tiffany sniffles in terror. “And you!” Boa says, turning on the cowering girl. “Weren’t you dating…” she stops. Riin tugs on her shirt, and turns back, but Jaejoong was already gone. She curses lightly, before disappearing after the older man. She and Yoochun have a quick telepathic conversation, imploring the older man as she leaves an emotional Ara to her brother.
“God…you stupid whore!” Ara hisses before suddenly whipping her hand across Tiffany’s pale cheek.
“Ara!” Yukie shouts reprimandingly, trying to contain the younger girl with Yoochun. Tiffany cowers on the ground, holding her cheek.
“Seriously, kiddo, calm down…” Yoochun soothes. “Don’t get all crazy, now, okay? It won’t do anyone any good.
“Aren’t you angry, onii-chan?! Aren’t you angry!?” she screams. “He cheated on me…disrespected our entire family! Humiliated me and all of us! And she…She disrespected Yukie-neesan’s kindness in taking her fucking ass in, and all that she’s done for her!” She looks at the older boy with tears of rage. “And Jaejoong-nii…what about him?” she whispers so only Yoochun could hear.
“This isn’t something to go crazy over, Aa-chan…” he says softly. “And this isn’t the kind of thing Jaejoong gives a crap about either…Riin’s right, you need to calm down, kiddo.”
Yukie sighs as she looks down at Tiffany, whose body shakes with fear and tears. She turns to Yoochun for support. “Ara…This isn’t the time and place to worry about things like this…” she says finally, looking at the two on the floor. “This…it isn’t even something that’s really worth our time. This—they have nothing to do with us. There are bigger things at hand…Far more important things…like family…not this…triviality…”
“Like hell it’s trivial, Yukie,” Boa suddenly says, her voice seething.
“Boa…don’t be stupid…” Tablo warns, grabbing onto her arm in realization. Her body is stiff as she shakes him off. “Boa…”
“Daesung!” she screeches. The younger man saunters back in frightfully.
“Y-Yes, nee-sama?” he stutters.
Boa pauses, arms crossed over her chest as she looks down at the scene before her. She turns her eyes onto Hyunjoong. “You’re not one of mine—if you were, you would not be disrespecting our family like this by screwing over my little sister. And trust me, I’ll be having a good long talk with TOP about how he handles his men. Fuck some little girl if you want, but don’t try to get a better standing in the family by using Ara,” she says firmly. “Be sure I will let my father know. And TOP. You better pray he doesn’t give you to me to deal with…” She turns to Tiffany. “And now you…” The younger girl shakes in fright, but dares not look up. “Daesung!” Boa calls.
“Give me your blade…” Boa commands, holding out her hand towards him. The younger man stares at her slightly dumbfounded. “Daesung, your blade now!”
Daesung fumbles and pulls out a blade form his pocket, placing it in Boa’s hands as she looms above Tiffany.
“Boa, Boa…please…” Yukie says, suddenly realizing the situation, grabbing onto the dark haired woman. “She’s just a kid. Don’t do something stupid! She works for me! She’s one of mine! You have no place to do anything to her…and she isn’t even part of any of this…Boa!”
She shakes Yukie off viciously. “Are you fucking kidding me?” she hisses. “People like her need to be taught a lesson…Not to fuck with us. We’ve become weak, that’s why they try to pick us off—that’s why we’ve got a bunch of Yoshios stepping all over us. This shows weakness, and we can’t be weak.” She pauses, looking her in the eye.
“And you think by taking it out on her is reasonable, Boa?” Yukie asks.
“Jinho always told me never to hesitate, to protect this family and its honour, by all means necessary. Reputation is everything in this world, Yukie, you know that. If they get a wind of any sign of weakness, they will all go after us like crows. I used to think like you, I did. But now I remember who I am supposed to be.”
“And who are you supposed to be?”
The dark haired woman smiles. “I am a Hayashi daughter, as are you, Yukie. Brian made me something else…but this…it reminds me of what I’m supposed to do.” She looks over at Ara, whose eyes are red and angry as Yoochun imprisons her in his arms. “I…loved someone I shouldn’t have, and because of that, someone I loved even more was taken from me. I won’t let emotions and sympathy get the better of me. It’s us and them, and I almost forgot that. You wrong one of us, you wrong us all. She’s wronged one of mine, and I’m sorry, Yukie, but this is where I outrank you. You know how this works.”
Yukie lets her go, looking on nervously. “Please…Boa…don’t do this…”
Boa’s movement is sharp and jagged like the blade as she grips Tiffany’s long locks in her hand. The younger girl yelps and struggles, but Boa has a firm grip. With several jagged cuts, Tiffany’s wavy chestnut hair is tossed onto the ground in a large lump. And very quickly, she slices a thin cut a few centimeters long down by her ear, causing her to scream as she collapses onto the ground.
“Oh Jesus fuck,” Yoochun curses, starring at his elder sister in surprise. “Nee-chan…”
Boa heaves an angry breath and smiles above the cowering bleeding girl. “Dan…” she says, turning to her brother, who looks at her anxiously. “I don’t need closure. I know exactly what I need now. I know what to do. I know what I’m supposed to do.” She laughs. “Through all of this crap, I almost forgot who I was…I just thought about choices and mistakes. But not anymore. Not ever again. I’m a Hayashi, and I need to take care of my family—like Jinho did.”
She walks out of the room as Yukie and Daesung help the injured girl as Ara looks on nonchalantly, wrapped in Yoochun’s arms. Tablo follows her, grabbing her arm. “Boa! What…what are you planning?”
“I’m going to find him,” she says, turning to look at him with frightening eyes. “I’m going to find Brian, and I won’t care about the past anymore…I don’t care about closure, or how I feel about him. I’m going to find him, and I’m going to kill him and end this all, no matter what I have to do—that is what I’m supposed to do. This is the mistake I’m going to fix; this is what I was supposed to do all along, Dan. If Brian wants to make this personal, then so will I. I’m going to be bait, and I’m going to lure him out, and I’m going to kill him…”
Boa shakes him loose and treads down the hall, leaving Tablo to look on anxiously.
“Fucking hell, Boa…” he whispers, running a hand through his hair. “Fucking hell…this is not what Jin would have wanted…This isn’t what he would’ve wanted at all.”