The Journey Continues…
Everything had changed.
Everything he had thought was true was a lie.
Yunho was sitting on the exam bed in sickbay waiting for Ryeowook to finish his examination. His mind kept returning to Jaejoong and their tragic goodbye. The heartbreaking look on Jaejoong’s face as he ripped into Yunho’s mind altering his memories and diminishing his emotions.
Jaejoong’s words; his commands replayed in Yunho’s mind, “Each passing day you will love me a little bit less. You will not search for me and you will not ask others to search for me, and sometimes you will wonder if we were ever bonded at all.”
But there were other words that replayed in his mind, words that were not kind, words full of warnings… “I want him to be as destroyed…as destroyed as the bond I once had with him is…”
Yunho rubbed his face and couldn’t stop himself from shivering, causing Ryeowook, who was examining him to ask, “Captain, are you okay?”
“You tell me,” Yunho responded miserably as he continued to rub his face.
“All the scans say you are,” Ryeowook informed the captain. “Your mind has been subjected to so much telepathy that it would take a lot to affect you.”
Yunho lowered his hands. “Can I return to duty?”
“Of course, although you look unusually troubled,” Ryeowook told him. “Changmin was being extremely cautious, but I agree with Dr. Nam’s initial examination.”
“Changmin didn’t send me here because he was worried for my health,” Yunho stated honestly. “He sent me here because he feared I would ask the Guardian of Time to take me to Jaejoong.”
“Did he?” Ryeowook asked, startled by the admission. “Why would you seek Jaejoong out after all this time?”
Yunho shuddered and spoke truthfully to the doctor, “You were right all along…one doesn’t handle their timeless love leaving them…with such ease…not like I did. It was all a lie.”
Ryeowook leaned against the bed. “Go on…”
“Jaejoong altered my memories and my emotions. He cracked my head like an egg and reduced our love to a pale shadow of its former self. He then put my mind back together the way he wanted it to be. The Guardian of Time somehow undid what he did and returned my memories to me and my feelings. This might sound crazy to you…”
“Nothing sounds crazy to me where the Guardians of Time are involved,” Ryeowook told the captain. “Go on.”
“I met an old version of myself, but not exactly a version of myself…this man and I shared a soul,” Yunho explained. “He was a broken and pitiful man, because he had been separated from his Jaejoong in his lifetime.”
Ryeowook reached out and laid a hand on Yunho’s knee. “You are not broken though…you do not break.”
“I am not so sure of that,” Yunho admitted. “I want to go to the Guardian of Time and demand it take me to Jaejoong. He is not well. He is far from well.”
“Then do it.”
“Not because of pride,” Yunho stated. “But because Jaejoong was right to leave. He would destroy Changmin if he returned. He hated him. He told me so. He warned me that he would destroy Changmin and I believe him.”
“But like you said he wasn’t well. I always knew he wasn’t well, not after losing Changmin in the way he did. I am no expert on Joongs, but I know it is you he needs!”
Yunho stood up and let out a bitter laugh as a single tear glided down his cheek. “But he’s self-healing Ryeowook! I can’t make Jaejoong heal himself! You can’t heal him! I can’t heal him. He has to want to be healed and he just wants to die. He just wants to die. Leaving was the kindest choice Jaejoong could make.”
“So, you won’t go after him and give him a reason live?”
Yunho shook his head. “Not now, I can’t promise what I will do someday, but not now. The ship, Changmin, and my life are…are not some consolation prize. I love my life. I love my adventures. I embrace my responsibilities. I will not sacrifice my life to join him in the darkness.”
“But you love him.”
“Ryeowook, I do love him, but I am NOT defined by that love. I am more than my relationship with him. We may have a timeless love, but I am more than my love for him.”
Ryeowook, whose eyes were glassy, told the captain softly, “He loved you, but he never truly understood you or your strength. You never needed his telepathic intervention to go on, and I think that might be the saddest part of this story.”
Yunho wiped the tear from his face. “I think you might be right, but I still miss him though, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
“You should miss him,” Ryeowook told the captain. “He is your great love. It is okay to cry for him, to yearn for him, to wish things had ended differently, or not ended at all.”
Yunho nodded his head. “Doctor, I think I will be seeking you out often in the coming weeks because I sometimes think you understood him best.”
“He would be outraged by the mere suggestion.”
“He would be,” Yunho agreed with a weak smile. “But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”
Ryeowook smiled back at the captain. “You are free to return to duty, and my door is always open to you. Always.”
“Thanks, I think in —” Yunho stopped as a large group of Starfleet personnel were suddenly beamed directly to sickbay, including the away team members except for Changmin and Jimin. The ship’s computer promptly announced a yellow alert.
Yunho watched as Dr. Nam lost consciousness after re-materializing, prompting the Sickbay safety mechanisms to immediately place him in stasis and transport him to an exam bed. Dr. Cho moved swiftly and was immediately at the other doctor’s side ordering diagnostic tests.
Siwon, who was also beamed up, along with his diplomatic team, swayed on his feet, causing the nurses on duty to quickly place him on an exam bed. The rest of the newly arrived crew looked surprised and unnerved but none of them lost consciousness.
“Ensign Dongwoo, report!” Yunho commanded.
“Sir, I don’t know…not exactly…at first I got a chill…and then my head started hurting,” the ensign attempted to explain. “Jimin ordered that all the human crew to be transported immediately to the ship.”
Dr. Jin promptly arrived in sickbay and started assessing the rest of the personal.
“Changmin did this,” Dr. Cho proclaimed as he pulled the empathic detector from Woohyun’s medkit and read the results. “It is reading 100%...Woohyun and Siwon should be dead and the others should have severe brain damage.”
Yunho paled at the thought of Changmin almost killing his crew.
“But the humans from Earth are not permanently harmed,” Dr. Jin quickly announced as he moved over to assess Siwon. “They have minor dilation of the blood vessels in their head, but their injuries are resolving as we speak.”
“Yunho…err I mean Captain Yunho, it was Jaejoong. He was down there and Changmin didn’t seem happy about it,” Ensign Jung, who had come to stand beside Ensign Dongwoo, warned.
“Jaejoong…” Yunho repeated, so unnerved by the news of Jaejoong’s presence he barely noted the arrival of his cousin on the ship.
Dongwoo nodded his head in agreement. “Everything was fine and then Jaejoong came through the Guardian of Time.”
Yunho quickly snatched Dongwoo’s phaser from him, tapped his combadge and ordered, “Lieutenant Donghae transport me directly in front of Jaejoong, now!”
Yunho fired the phaser as soon as he materialized.
He watched as Jaejoong crumbled to the ground and then he shot him six more times. Only once he was sure Jaejoong was unconscious did he allow himself to assess his surroundings and what he discovered horrified him. He had to call on every lesson he had ever learned at the academy to remain calm.
Changmin was on the ground with his bloody head in Jimin’s lap. Yunho forced visions of all the times he had seen Jaejoong melt a person’s brain from his head and shot Jaejoong again.
“Captain!” A tearful Jimin cried out in alarm. “What are you doing?”
Yunho walked over to stand over Changmin and ordered in a voice of steel, “Tell me what is going on, now!”
“His Royal Highness appeared and Prince Changmin…he lashed out,” Jimin hurriedly supplied, unused to this version of Yunho, who had kept shooting Jaejoong. “I could feel his anger…the crew started reacting to his…uncontrolled mental powers. His Royal Highness protected the crew, but he couldn’t keep protecting them and the natives of this planet. I knew Prince Changmin wouldn’t be able to stop himself, so I—” Jimin paused to point at a rock that was laying nearby. “I hit him in the head with a rock. I knew he wouldn’t want to hurt his friends.”
Ryeowook’s words replayed in Yunho’s head of how Woohyun and Siwon should have been dead. Yunho shot Jaejoong again and tapped his combadge. “Commander Cho, beam a native of Dajakju who is in this vicinity to the ship and check them for brain damage.”
“Yes, Sir,” came Commander Cho’s immediate response.
“Enact safety protocol J138KC98,” Yunho told his second in command. “I am stunning Jaejoong repeatedly, but I doubt it will affect him for long.”
“Understood,” Commander Cho replied.
“Captain Yunho!” Jimin cried out in alarm as Yunho kept shooting Jaejoong. “His Royal Highness Jaejoong was only trying to help! Why are you doing this to him? You love him!”
“My love for him does not erase the fact that the last time I saw him he wanted nothing more than to kill Changmin.”
“No! No! No!” Jimin cried out. “He was helping. He didn’t hurt Prince Changmin…I did.”
Yunho shot Jaejoong again and stated coolly, “One thing I have observed about you Jimin is that you are loyal to the Royal Family of Joong above all others and Jaejoong currently outranks Changmin.”
“I’d never betray Prince Changmin!” Jimin cried out in outrage as if Yunho had struck him. “You need to give Prince Changmin the Custos Humanae Vitae! He will heal himself soon, and then you and all the people of this planet will not be safe! Your crew in orbit may not be safe!”
“Jimin, if I take that necklace off of you…I will never be able to trust you again,” Yunho told the young Joong as he shot Jaejoong again. “I want to, but I just can’t risk it.”
“Captain may I be of assistance to you,” Lieutenant Kim, who had materialized behind the captain, asked as he walked up Yunho carrying a tricorder and a med kit.
Relief showed on Yunho’s face and he nodded his head. “You are always an assistance to me Namjoon, please assess Changmin.”
Namjoon walked closer to Changmin and Jimin, promptly scanning the science officer. “He appears to be healing after suffering blunt trauma to the head. Although, I am not a doctor, I estimate he will regain consciousness in the next fifteen minutes.”
“I have to get another necklace,” Yunho told the Lieutenant Kim. “I have to get one for Changmin.”
“Also, we should remove the Custos Humanae Vitae from Jimin and replace it immediately,” Lieutenant Kim suggested. “We cannot be sure that Jaejoong did not remove it prior to your arrival and have Jimin place it on his own neck, and if that is the case then Jimin can remove it at will.”
Jimin shook his head. “He didn’t! His Royal Highness doesn’t want to hurt anyone! He was trying to save people! You are all wrong about him!”
“I want to believe that,” Yunho told Jimin as he shot Jaejoong again. “I want to believe that more than anything, but I am not going to risk Changmin’s life because I want to believe something.”
“It’s the truth!” Jimin proclaimed, while cradling Changmin close to him. “I think he was more surprised than we were when he showed up here.”
“Captain,” Commander Cho’s voice called out from the combadge. “The native of the planet we beamed aboard the ship did have brain damage, but Dr. Cho reports he was protected to an extent.”
Yunho let out a sigh of relief. “I want the other injured natives beamed to the ship and treated. I think Jaejoong was protecting them from Changmin.”
“Yes!” Jimin cried out as he stroked Changmin’s hair. “But he was having a difficult time protecting all of them. He said Changmin’s range was much farther now.”
“Commander Cho, I want Changmin, Jimin, and Lieutenant Kim beamed to a shuttle. I want it far out of the range of the Expectations.”
“Sir…I will require Lieutenant Kim’s approval,” Commander Cho informed the captain.
Yunho shot Jaejoong again, turned to Lieutenant Kim, and explained his plan, “You will be safe with Changmin and Jimin on the shuttle. I am going to go through the Guardian of Time to find another Custos Humanae Vitae.”
Lieutenant Kim looked taken aback. “Sir, but how do you know the Guardian of Time will cooperate with you?”
“Once the Guardian of Time let Lieutenant Sunggyu and Ensign Henry travel through it to collect Dilithium Crystals. I am confident it will do the same for me.”
“Yes, I do recall,” Lieutenant Kim replied to the captain. “Are you sure the Guardian of Time will not be angry with you for attacking Jaejoong?”
Yunho shrugged. “It might be, but it can’t kill me without killing Jaejoong. I have to do this.”
Namjoon nodded in agreement and hit his combadge, “Commander Cho, I concur with Captain Yunho’s orders. Prepare a shuttle immediately. Also, please send the captain the necessary supplies he may require on an away mission. We have very little time before Lieutenant Jung awakens.”
“The shuttle is already prepared, and the supplies are being sent,” Commander Cho announced. “Lieutenant Kim, on your order we will beam you, Lieutenant Jung, and Jimin aboard the shuttle.”
“What of his Royal Highness Jaejoong?” Jimin asked, while closely observing Changmin for any signs that the prince was about to awaken. “I am sure he came to reunite with you, Captain!”
“That doesn’t matter, I have to focus on my mission,” Yunho stated as he shot Jaejoong two more times, and then turned toward the Guardian of Time. “Jaejoong can fend for himself.”
“He is proven most capable of handling himself,” Lieutenant Kim concurred. “Captain, we will be taking our leave of you.”
“Yes, go before Changmin awakens,” Yunho ordered as he collected the supplies that had been beamed down to him. “With the Guardian of Time’s cooperation, I will see you shortly.”
“Commander Cho beam us aboard the shuttle,” Namjoon ordered and instantly him, Jimin, and Lieutenant Jung were transported away.
Yunho knelt in front of the Guardian of Time and asked humbly, “Great Guardian of Time I beseech that you grant me passage to a place where I can collect a Custos Humanae Vitae. I also respectively request that you return me to my ship and this time once I have accomplished my goal.”
The Guardian of Time’s waters started swirling and it responded in its ageless and powerful voice, “Yunho of the Royal House of Joong, I shall honor your requests.”
“I thank you,” Yunho told the Guardian of Time as he stood up and entered the ancient portal without looking back.
Yunho emerged from the Guardian of Time to find himself surrounded by Zusaders. He quickly grabbed for his phaser but was punched in the face by one of the massive beasts before he could reach it.
The punch sent him flying backwards several feet before he tumbled to the ground. He quickly rolled out of the way before another Zusader could kick him in the gut.
“Damn!” He cursed as he felt a sting as one of the whips the Zusaders were using managed to strike his hand. He climbed to his feet and pulled out his phaser. The Zusaders after seeing the weapon slowed their attack and started circling him. He counted six of them, shook his head to clear it, and told them, “You guys just never play fair, do you?”
The Zusaders snorted in response.
“Hey! I have my phaser set on wide beam stun!” Yunho called out, as he quickly noted that they were preparing to charge him, while silently praying the phaser would work. The presence of the Zusaders had surprised him. Perhaps, the Guardian of Time was angry at him for stunning Jaejoong after all.
The Zusaders continued to circle him, while eyeing his weapon cautiously. He noted these Zusaders were not dressed like the ones they had encountered in the past, and they seemed even more primal.
“I could easily kill all of you,” Yunho warned, hoping the universal translator was working. There was no guarantee that any of his equipment would work. The normal laws of physics and mechanics did not apply to some of the planets in this galaxy due to the advanced devices left behind by a mysterious race that neutralized them. Many believed these devices were of Joong origin, but nothing had been proven. His science department had worked diligently to overcome the effects of these ancient devices, and he hoped the changes they had made to the equipment would be effective now.
Yunho hated to kill, but if stunning them did not work, he would have no choice. The Zusaders were huge; each of them towering over seven foot and weighing over three hundred pounds apiece. Zusaders were a carnivorous species and he couldn’t help but think they had dinner on their mind. He patiently waited for them to charge him before firing but they didn’t attack him. Instead he watched as blood started dripping from the eyes, ears, and snouts of two of the massive beings, causing them to screech out in agony before dropping to the ground dead.
Behind the two fallen Zusaders stood a very displeased looking Jaejoong, who had no qualms about killing Zusaders. The other four Zusaders immediately ran toward Jaejoong, but once they came within five feet of him, they fell to the ground unconscious.
“You shot me!”
Yunho winced. “I stunned you.”
“You shot me multiple times!” Jaejoong complained as he dusted off the dirt from the lavish white robe he was wearing. “No…hello, no thank you for saving your crew for the BILLIONTH TIME!!! You just shot me!”
“Stunned…” Yunho repeated with barely suppressed affection as he watched the flustered Joong. He wasn’t surprised that Jaejoong had followed him, but he was still relieved.
Jaejoong looked up and glared at Yunho. “Did you aim a weapon at me and fire it?”
“Then you shot me!”
Yunho, who found the whole situation way more amusing than it should be, tried desperately to remember their last encounter. He reminded himself that he had many reasons to be angry with his bond mate. “Stop it.”
“Stop what?” Jaejoong demanded. “Stop saving your life? Stop saving your crew’s life?”
“No, you can continue doing that,” Yunho told him, while attempting to keep a straight face. “You need to stop being so adorable.”
Jaejoong’s expression softened. “I’m always adorable.”
“No, you really aren’t.”
“Well, you aren’t so adorable either when you are shooting me!”
“To be fair you have me blocked,” Yunho pointed out. “I sense nothing from you!”
“Do you shoot everybody you can’t sense?”
“You know I don’t!” Yunho responded, feeling his irritation growing. “But I am supposed to sense…feel you! If I had sensed you, I might have known you were no longer a raving lunatic. You aren’t, are you?”
“Good because that was bad, really bad.”
“Yunho I’m so sorry,” Jaejoong apologized, looking truly remorseful. “I was so malicious before I left. I am so sorry for everything I did or said.”
“But you are better?”
“Yes, I want to live,” Jaejoong told Yunho firmly. “It took a long time and I had to have help, but I escaped my gloom.”
“Think of it as really bad depression,” Jaejoong replied. “I am better now.”
“I wanted to be the one that helped you,” Yunho blurted out, hating how pathetic he sounded. “But you wouldn’t let me.”
Jaejoong looked down at the ground, unable to face his great love. “The person that helped me did so without my permission. They caught me off-guard. You could not have helped me. I wouldn’t have let you.”
“Who helped you?”
“I can’t say,” Jaejoong explained, but quickly added, “But, I am better! I do want live and I want to make amends. There are so many things I regret…” Jaejoong paused as he looked up to find Yunho walking away from him. “Yunho!”
Yunho, who was busy looking at his tricorder, was heading off in a northerly direction. “I don’t have time for your secrecy. I have a mission to complete. I have a lot of miles to cover before I reach the Custos Humanae Vitae.”
“I am not being secretive,” Jaejoong protested as he followed after Yunho. “There are some things I can’t tell you. I just can’t! You know this!”
“How is that not being secretive?”
“Well…well…why…does it even matter who healed me?”
“It doesn’t matter at all,” Yunho stated bitterly, continuing on his way. “You can go back to Joong and hang out with the person, who could heal you, when I couldn’t. Have a happy life, Jaejoong! While I continue to attempt to clean up the fucking mess you left behind!”
“It was my Birth-Parent!” Jaejoong yelled out at Yunho, taken aback by the other man’s bitterness. He then hurried to keep up with his bond mate. “There are you happy?”
Yunho turned around, and just stared at Jaejoong with a truly puzzled expression. “Your parent helped you! Big deal! It is what parents do! Why could you not tell me that?”
Jaejoong opened his mouth and closed it, not even sure of the answer himself.
“Why is it so hard for you to be honest with me?” Yunho asked while shaking his head in dismay.
“Being secretive is not the same as being dishonest.”
“It really is.”
“No, it isn’t,” Jaejoong insisted, while lowering his gaze to Yunho’s hand. “You need to heal yourself.”
“You have one of Ryeowook’s medkits, so use it on your hand.”
“My hand feels absolutely fine.”
“You were hit by a Zusader’s whip,” Jaejoong informed Yunho. “I might have you blocked but I can still sense you are injured.”
Yunho raised his eyebrows, reminding Jaejoong of an adult Changmin. “It doesn’t hurt, so I don’t know what you are sensing exactly.”
“They are poisonous!”
“So, you say…”
“So, I say? What the hell does that mean?” Jaejoong demanded, growing more irritated by the second.
“I wouldn’t put it past your secretive ass to lie about that,” Yunho told Jaejoong. “Maybe I was never dying the day we met. I think you just sensed I was your timeless love, and you bonded with me because you wanted to. You knew from reading my mind that I would never go along with the bonding willingly, so you gave me some elaborate story about how you were doing it to save my life.”
Jaejoong’s jaw dropped and he was thunderstruck.
Yunho continued, “I’ve come to know another Joong, and he’s quite obvious about how desperate Joongs are to bond once they find their mate. We have to actually keep the Custos Humanae Vitae on him to keep him from bonding with one of my young ensigns! Which is really unfortunate because I wouldn’t be on this mission to claim another one for Changmin if I could use the one I already fucking have!”
Jaejoong controlled his astonishment and hissed, “Well, if you think I lied, just hurry on your way. Don’t let me stop you! I don’t want to hear you crying out for my help when you are in excruciating pain!”
“Don’t worry, I won’t,” Yunho told Jaejoong as he turned around and continued on his way.
Jaejoong charged after Yunho. “You are the most exasperating man I have ever known! When you had your ship rescue this Joong had he not been beaten with the poisonous whips of the Zusaders?”
Yunho paused and grimaced, because Jaejoong was right. He was surprised that Jaejoong had been paying any attention to what was going on with the ship at the time, but then again Jaejoong was the king of secrecy and a Joong had been brought aboard the ship; a Joong that could share his and his world’s secrets. “Did you meet Jimin?” Yunho swung around and demanded.
“Yes, just recently when I was trying to save everyone,” Jaejoong snapped. “How soon you forget!”
“No,” Yunho replied sharply. “Did you meet him on the ship before you abandoned us?”
Jaejoong stared at Yunho. “No, no I didn’t…why?”
“Are you lying?” Yunho demanded. “I am not sure how you would have done it because Lieutenant Sooyoung and Lieutenant Kim would have been monitoring you, but I don’t put it past you to somehow accomplish it.”
“You are paranoid! Why would I want to meet him?”
“Because he’s a Joong! He can tell us your precious secrets!”
Jaejoong’s eyes narrowed. “I told you I didn’t.”
“But I can’t believe you, can I?”
“I think if I were you, I would be more concerned with the fact that you forgot the whips were laced in poison and now that poison is cursing through your body! Also, you should be ashamed of the fact that you accused me of lying about our bonding!” Jaejoong spat at Yunho. “I am still waiting for an apology!”
“You will be waiting a long time,” Yunho informed him before storming off in the direction of the Custos Humanae Vitae. “Oh, and I might have forgotten about the poison whips because right after Jimin was brought to the ship you ripped my mind apart and rearranged it to your liking.”
Jaejoong gasped. “You…you know…?”
“Just be quiet!” Yunho ordered furiously. “Just be quiet!”
Sickbay was bustling.
The nurses and the doctors worked diligently to repair the minds of the natives of the planet that had been beamed aboard the ship. Changmin’s mental powers had reached out for miles and only Jaejoong’s shielding had prevented thousands from dying. The humans of Earth descent had been released from sickbay, being the least affected by Changmin’s mental powers.
“Where is he?” Lieutenant Sunggyu commanded as he entered sickbay.
Nurse Lee looked up from the woman he was treating and answered, “He’s in exam room four. He isn’t conscious, but he going to be fine.”
“Thank you,” Lieutenant Sunggyu told the male nurse and he hurried to Woohyun.
When he entered the room, he let out an unconscious gasp, because the sight of a pale and lifeless Woohyun lying on the exam bed was not something he was accustomed to.
Sunggyu walked over to the injured man, took Woohyun’s hand, and looked up at the monitors. During the academy all cadets in the command courses had to take some basic medical courses, so while he was far from being a medical professional, he could make sense of the readings and he was confident that Woohyun would indeed be fine.
“You know you are not supposed to be like this,” Lieutenant Sunggyu scolded the doctor affectionately. “You are usually so full of life. I must admit this is a little unnerving. I am used to you saving the day not being like this. This is bothering me more than…I will ever admit to a conscious you.”
Sunggyu reached back, grabbed a chair and pulled it closer to the bed. “Okay, can you please wake up and be all flattered that I am hovering at your bedside?”
“Not for a few more hours,” Dr. Jin stated as he walked into the room after overhearing Sunggyu. “He is going to have a complete recovery, but he was right next to Changmin, so he got the worst of it. It’s going to take time.”
Sunggyu did not look away from Woohyun. “I thought Jaejoong protected them?”
“He did,” Jin replied. “He just wasn’t prepared at first. It took him a second to put up the shields and Lieutenant Jung had already lost control by then.”
“I find it very unnerving that Lieutenant Jung has been among the crew for months with this kind of power. The power to kill us all,” Lieutenant Sunggyu stated. “How was that possible?”
“We had done multiple tests on Lieutenant Jung,” Jin replied. “We had tested his empathic projection abilities multiple times. Woohyun was in charge of those tests.”
“So, are you saying this is Woohyun’s fault?” Sunggyu demanded as he turned around and glared at the doctor.
Jin shook his head. “No, I am not saying that at all. I am just saying that not even we can prepare for everything.”
“That answer just doesn’t seem good enough to me, no offense,” Lieutenant Sunggyu stated coldly. “I can’t help but think that if Lieutenant Jung was not the captain’s son …there might have been more measures in place to prevent this from happening.”
“I understand why you would feel this way.”
Sunggyu looked away from Dr. Jin and back at the unconscious Woohyun. “Are you saying my feelings are clouding my judgement? That I am not thinking like a lieutenant…a command lieutenant?”
Jin walked over and placed a hand on Sunggyu’s shoulder. “You are acting like a person that cares deeply for Woohyun.”
“You didn’t answer my question,” Lieutenant Sunggyu pointed out. “Tell me would Lieutenant Kim make these accusations against the captain if he were in my place?”
Jin sighed, lifted his hand from Sunggyu’s shoulder, and told him truthfully, “No, he would not.”
Lieutenant Sunggyu turned around and eyed Jin skeptically. “So, if it was you laying on that bed, he wouldn’t question the captain’s decision?”
Jin looked alarmed. “Why would you ask that?”
“Didn’t he once love you?” Sunggyu asked and then quickly explained, “When we were watching the baby version of Changmin I knew it wasn’t boredom that woke the kid. It was you. You were sad, even though you did your best to act otherwise, but baby Changmin felt it. The way you were looking at that ring…I just assumed you two had history.”
Jin stiffened. “We do have history, and he did once love me.”
“So, when he loved you would he have questioned the captain?”
“No,” Jin answered bluntly. “He wouldn’t question Captain Yunho. This situation was unpredictable, and no fault lies with the captain. Starfleet allows aliens with precarious mental abilities to serve the fleet; Vulcans for instance. The captain kept having us test Lieutenant Jung long after we had given him full clearance. Lieutenant Kim does not allow his emotions to cloud his judgement or unduly influence him. He puts duty over love.”
Lieutenant Sunggyu looked back at Woohyun and nodded his head, “He is right to do so. I was in error. I didn’t know the captain was the one requiring more testing.”
“No, you wouldn’t have known, but Lieutenant Kim knows. He has his hands in everything. There is very little he doesn’t know in regard to the ship and the crew.”
“While I spend my days stuck in engineering, but still…”
“I regret my words. I spoke hastily and emotionally. Captain Yunho has never done anything but prove his worthiness and I am ashamed of what I said. It wasn’t like me to be so overwhelmed by emotion, and it is not a sign of a good command officer.”
Jin had mercy on the struggling lieutenant and told him, “No, not a quality that is valued in a command officer, but one that is highly sought after in a lover, or so I am told.”
Sunggyu blushed and lowered his head. “We are not lovers.”
Dr. Jin smiled down at the unconscious Woohyun and stated softly, “Not yet.”
He kept walking.
The fingers on his left hand were numb, but he kept walking.
The terrain had initially been covered with grass, but the longer they walked the more bushes and trees they came upon; bushes and trees with thorns.
The bushes had a wide assortment of flowers on them. Some of the flowers looked like the daisies of earth, others reminded him of the Sky Lilies found on the planet Andoria, and some looked like nothing he had ever seen before.
While walking he occasionally glanced up at the yellow sun that was not unfamiliar to him. He wondered if the Joong trailing behind him realized where they were, but he did not ask. Surely if the Zusaders had not been a big enough clue the increasing thorns would trigger his memory.
Yunho just kept on walking in the direction the tricorder pointed him. Once he had obtained the Custos Humanae Vitae he hoped the Guardian of Time would immediately return him to the Expectations, but he couldn’t be certain of it. He knew he couldn’t be sure of anything involving the Guardians of Time. The ancient time portal’s loyalty was to the Joong behind him and not to him.
A thousand thoughts raced through his mind, and no dedication to duty could push them completely away for long. Jaejoong had said he was better and yet their bond was not there. Yunho felt nothing of their bond from the Joong, and the Joong had not reached out to him telepathically since his arrival. Also the most unsettling thing of all was that Jaejoong had not once proclaimed his love for Yunho since returning nor had he made any effort to touch Yunho. This bothered Yunho more than he cared to admit, because a well Jaejoong should have wanted to touch him both physically and mentally.
Then there was also the issue that Yunho had been poisoned by the Zusader’s whips…he acknowledged this now, if only to himself. What disturbed him the most was that Jaejoong had not intervened to heal him. He wondered if Jaejoong couldn’t heal him any longer. Jaejoong said he had sensed Yunho was injured, but what if he had just seen his hand?
He knew he should stop and treat his hand, but for some reason he couldn’t. He just couldn’t. He didn’t want to admit that Jaejoong was right.
Was it pride? Was he being prideful? Or was he just being stubborn? Or maybe he was just trying to get Jaejoong to heal him…to touch him. There was also something almost sad about him having to heal himself in the other man’s presence. While he debated the issue of why he was being so stupid a thorny bush with red flowers caught his attention.
He stopped abruptly and stared at it mesmerized. “Are those roses?”
A disgruntled Jaejoong, who has been following closely behind, barely avoided colliding with the starship captain. “Do I look like an expert on shrubbery?”
“They are,” Yunho stated softly as he walked over to admire the roses. “They aren’t as big as Bessie’s roses, but they are roses. I am such a fool.”
“Why?” Jaejoong asked perplexed as he watched Yunho gaze wistfully at the roses. “I mean other than the fact that you are walking around with a deadly wound!”
Yunho didn’t answer him.
The captain gently touched a rose before he walked away from the bush and found a clear patch of grass to sit on. Jaejoong watched as the captain sat down, pulled out his medkit and took a series of injections.
The Joong let out a sigh of relief as the poison was neutralized.
A puzzled Jaejoong waited for Yunho to get up, but the starship captain just kept looking at the roses longingly. “Who is Bessie?”
“I don’t know,” Yunho answered honestly. “I could have known who she was once, but I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to know the story. I just know a prideful man sits for eternity among her beautiful roses…with a thousand regrets.”
The prince frowned, walked over, and sat down by Yunho careful not to touch him. “If her roses are what led you to heal yourself then I am grateful to her.”
Yunho turned his head, observed Jaejoong, and confessed the truth, “I wanted you to heal me.”
“Is that why you put it off for so long?”
“Yes, but you are no longer able to heal me, are you?”
Jaejoong looked down at his lap and clasped his hands tightly together. “I could have...”
“Can you just stop?”
“The lying…just stop,” Yunho told him miserably. “Instead of lying to me just tell me you don’t trust me to know the truth and stop the lies.”
“That isn’t true. I have always trusted you.”
“There you go lying again.”
“I’m not! I trust you more than anyone.”
“Then just admit that the bond is gone…broken beyond repair.” Yunho whispered as he reached out for the Joong. “Those were your words. I didn’t believe you at the time, but I believe you now.”
“Stop it!” Jaejoong cried out as he quickly moved away to avoid Yunho’s touch. “Our bond is not broken. I can heal you, but I don’t want to!”
“Why don’t you want to heal me?”
Jaejoong closed his eyes and struggled to remain calm. “I need to keep myself closed off to you for now. Our bond is not broken…it is as strong as ever.”
Yunho shook his head sadly. “I don’t believe you. I don’t feel any love from you. You won’t even touch me.”
“Dammit Yunho,” Jaejoong cursed as he stood up. “It’s killing me not to touch you…to not heal you! This isn’t what I wanted.”
“What do you want?”
“First I want you to heal your poor face.”
The captain reached up, touched his face, and found it tender where the Zusader had punched him. “I forgot about this.”
“I didn’t! It’s been driving me crazy! I can’t stand for you to be hurt!” Jaejoong screamed at his mate, his pitch going higher and higher. “Fix it already!”
“There was a time when you would never have allowed me to heal myself by such primitive means,” Yunho grumbled as he grabbed for the medkit.
“You still think I am lying?”
“Yes,” Yunho answered honestly as he started healing his face. “Like I said this isn’t like you. The Jaejoong that I spent years with…my Jaejoong healed me even when he was pissed at me.”
Jaejoong inhaled a deep breath and slowly exhaled it. “I am still your Jaejoong.”
“Maybe you are, but you are different,” Yunho informed him. “Never have you not wanted to touch me.”
“I do believe there was a time once before when I didn’t want you touching me,” Jaejoong stated coolly with his arms folded across his chest. “When everything you did pissed me off.”
Yunho dropped the medkit and gapped up at Jaejoong fearfully. “No…”
“Yes,” Jaejoong hissed back at him. “When my birth-parent awakened me from the darkness I reached out for you instantly, but then my shame stopped me from unblocking our bond. You were the only thing I wanted, but I thought I could never bear to face you again after what I had done.”
“You must have known I would forgive you. I’d forgive you anything.”
The Joong prince shook his head. “I didn’t feel like I deserved your forgiveness. Also, I am not so sure you would forgive me anything…the things I did to Changmin were unforgivable. I couldn’t forgive myself. Just like the man among the roses for eternity, I have my regrets.”
Yunho picked up the medkit. “So, you came back because you were shifting?”
“No,” Jaejoong denied. “I had deluded myself into believing I could resist the effects of shifting forever if I avoided you and kept you blocked.”
“Then why did you come back?”
“Because Changlee tricked me,” Jaejoong explained as he sat back down. “She handled me perfectly. I had no intention of coming back until she intervened.”
“I can’t say who…no, that isn’t true. I can say. Changlee is my non-birth parent.”
Yunho gave Jaejoong a small smile. “Did you name Changmin after your non-birth parent and my mom?”
“I don’t have any memories of the original timeline…the one where we didn’t already know Changmin’s name, but I must have.”
“That is nice,” Yunho told the Joong as he subtly scooted away from the other man. “So, you don’t want to shift?”
Jaejoong’s eyes narrowed as he noticed Yunho moving away from him. “I am already shifting. It’s just the lovely first stage. Before when I shifted, I was able to prolong stage one, and I plan on prolonging it again. There are things I have to do before the shifting progresses, so no touching you, healing you, telepathy, unblocking you or anything else that would increase my chances of progressing to stage two.”
“I am not going to lie; I don’t want you to shift.”
“I noticed,” Jaejoong stated drily, eyeing the nearly five feet Yunho had managed to put between them. “You don’t have to be so scared the baby rabies stage is far away.”
“I am not scared…okay, I am a little scared, because we are too fucked up to be bringing another child into this universe,” Yunho told Jaejoong. “I mean our—Changmin nearly just wiped out an entire population.”
“We are not fucked up,” Jaejoong protested. “We are a little broken, but once I open myself to you all will be well, but you are right Changmin has to be dealt with first. I realized that instantly once I saw him.”
“Changmin? Don’t you mean Lieutenant Jung?” Yunho asked with a frown, remembering how Jaejoong had practically spit out the name before.
“No, I mean Changmin. I can say his name. I acknowledge that he is our son and I have to help him before I give in to the shifting. Just because I feel no love towards Changmin, and our bond is broken doesn’t mean I can leave him in this condition. I did this to him.”
Yunho expression hardened. “Did what to him?”
Jaejoong fidgeted with his robes before replying, “I damaged his shields when I attacked him with my empathic wave. Joongs are exceptional at healing our physical ailments, but we fail sometimes at healing the mental ones.”
“So, it isn’t just his anger at you that causes him to lose control? You actually wounded him.”
“Yes,” Jaejoong confessed, while eyeing Yunho uneasily. The starship captain did not look pleased. “I wasn’t in my right mind, and I blamed him for everything.”
“He was a walking corpse to you.”
Jaejoong paled. “I regret saying such a thing.”
“What do you mean, why?” Jaejoong asked, taken aback by the question. “Why wouldn’t I regret saying such a horrible thing?”
“You just said you don’t love him. Why would you want to help someone you don’t love?”
“Yunho,” Jaejoong said carefully. “I may not love him, but I do want to help him. He is my son!”
“How can you not love him?” Yunho demanded as he stood up. “He grew inside of you. You were his world and he was your world. Where did all that love go? How can it just be gone?”
Jaejoong, who remained sitting, looked up at Yunho, and answered sadly, “Our bond is gone. Losing that love is what made me crazy. You are human and you love all the time without bonds, but Joongs are different. I don’t know how to love without a bond.”
“That is bullshit,” Yunho snapped as he glared down at Jaejoong. “When you were shifting before you told me you loved him! Do you even remember that?”
“I remember,” Jaejoong replied gently. “I was in the later stages of shifting. I was emotional, and I had just spent weeks guiding and instructing him on the ways of being a Joong. I cared for him then strongly, and I mistook it for a human sort of love.”
Jaejoong looked pleadingly up at Yunho. “What I felt then was not even a tiny fraction of what I felt for him when…when he was my baby and our bond was intact. To claim I love him now would be a mockery of what our love once was.”
Yunho pulled out his tricorder, looked down at it, and then stated harshly, “We need to get moving. We have a lot of ground to cover.”
“Yunho!” Jaejoong cried out as the captain started walking away at a fast pace. “Yunho! I was trying to be honest with you and this is how you react! Do you understand why I keep things from you?”
“I appreciate your honesty,” Yunho bluntly told him without slowing down.
Jaejoong quickly got up and followed after the captain. “You are not acting very appreciative!”
Yunho slowed. “No, I want you to be honest…it’s just sometimes the truth hurts.”
“That is why I didn’t want to tell you,” Jaejoong whined as he trailed behind Yunho. “It isn’t like I don’t care about him at all. I do and I am going to help him. He’s the reason I am not running into your arms. He is the reason why I didn’t heal you.”
“I understand that.”
“Do you?” Jaejoong demanded from behind the captain. “Do you know how hard it is not to fall into your arms? How hard it is not to rejoice in our love?”
Yunho glanced down at the tricorder before replying, “If I remember stage one of shifting correctly you aren’t exactly eager to be around me, so I am sure you will manage.”
“I will probably grow more irritated with you as time goes on, but I have missed you for so long. The thought of stage three is very tempting…things would be so much better if I were in stage three.”
Yunho shook his head to free it of visions of an insatiable Jaejoong. “No, we have a mission to accomplish and you are right to want to heal Changmin. I respect that and I really want you to help him.”
Jaejoong nodded his head. “I am determined to help him. It’s just been a long time…a really long time. Way too long since we made love.”
“Jaejoong!” Yunho called out in alarm. “There will be no talk of sex or love making do you hear me? We both have things we need to accomplish, so we need to stay focused.”
“I know…I know.”
Yunho slowed and turned around to face Jaejoong. “I am confused though.”
“You do seem more confused than usual,” Jaejoong told him with a look of concern. “Any head injuries since I was gone?”
“Only one that I can think of and you inflicted it,” Yunho informed the Joong with a scowl.
Jaejoong reddened. “Well, I healed you, so we know that isn’t the reason for the confusion, but when all is well between us, I’ll doublecheck. Umm, I’m just curious how did you come to realize what I had done to you?”
“I don’t think it is wise to talk about that now.”
“I totally agree!” Jaejoong replied too quickly, letting his anxiety show. He wanted to know how Yunho had bypassed his conditioning, but he didn’t want Yunho dwelling on what he had done either.
“But back to my other question…”
“You said you had planned on ignoring the shifting forever.”
“That was my intention even though it was pretty ignorant of me.”
Yunho looked Jaejoong in the eyes and asked what had been on his mind since the man returned, “Then why did you come back?”
“Changlee tricked me?”
Jaejoong scoffed and slapped himself on the forehead with the palm of his hand. “It’s so ridiculous that I am embarrassed to admit I fell for it. Changlee told me you were going to divorce me, so you could be with someone else. She even said you would have more children. Can you believe I fell for that?”
Yunho quickly started walking away, avoiding eye contact. “Nope, can’t believe you fell for that one!”
“I know! It’s so absurd!” Jaejoong declared as he followed after Yunho. “I mean like you could ever find anyone else remotely attractive after having been with me. I was so insecure at the time that I fell for it.”
“Let’s increase our pace to a jog,” Yunho hollered out as he started to jog. “We have many miles to cover.”
“Jogging? Are you serious?” Jaejoong complained loudly. “You know I am royalty! Royalty don’t jog!”