17 Butterfly's Return 4:Drowned


Yunjae snapped back to the present with a start.

"Are you okay?" the voice asked again, and she smiled as she turned to look at Yihan who was standing just a few paces from her.

"Yeah," she said abruptly as she placed Yuan's medicine back on the table.

Yihan frowned thoughtfully at her before he cleared his throat and glanced at his watch. "I've been called back to the company so I have to leave," he announced and Jae nodded.

"O-okay…" she said as Hana, carrying a crying Yuan stepped into the room. "Baby, what's wrong?" Jae asked as she tried to get him, but his son ignored her. Yuan had his arms stretched towards Yihan, asking to be carried.

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"Da-da-da-da," he sobbed.

"Ah, he doesn't want you to leave," Hana told Yihan with worry.

"Aww, I'm sorry, baby, I had to go to work," Yihan cajoled but he took Yuan in his arms anyway. "I think you have to accompany me to the car," he said and everyone agreed.

All three of them marched towards Yihan's old Hyundai. "I have to go now baby," he said as he planted a kiss on top of Yuan's head and handed him to Yunjae's waiting arms and got behind the wheel.

"Da-da-da-da!" Yuan screamed after Yihan, throwing a fit and Jae had to rock him to make him quiet down as the car left.

"Don't cry baby, sshhh," she coaxed her distraught son as her sister-in-law handed her Yuan's new plushie. "Here now, stop crying baby," she crooned, just as the phone in her pocket rang.

"Here, let me have him," Hana offered and Jae didn't think twice in handing Yuan to her.

As she watched them return to the house, she fished the phone from her pocket, her lips trembling upon seeing the caller ID before she pressed the answer button with a breathy whisper. "Y-yes…?"

There was silence on the other end for several heartbeats before the familiar baritone answered. "Meet me…"


A sleek black car was parked across the street, several meters from Yunjae's house.

Kang Jinho sat behind the wheel, his dark gaze focused on the happy little family display outside and his hands gripped the wheel hard, his knuckles turning white, his jaw clenched.

His almond-shaped eyes filled with moisture, turning red as his nose flared, his lips curling into a sneer as he controlled his anguish. A few minutes ago, when he saw Jae and her husband standing together with their child, he'd been beyond furious.

How could Jae continue to act like that with her family in spite of having an affair with him? He wondered, though deep inside, he knew the answer, just as he knew the answer years ago…


2 years ago

"What's wrong with you?" Jinho asked his lover who sat on the bench nearby as she warmed up for a swim. The Nationals was looming over them and everyone had been busy doing last-minute preparations, practicing hard, that the two of them seldom spoke lately.

It didn't escape him however to see the changes in Yunjae. Since a month ago, he noticed the other's frequent spacing out, lapses into silence, staring ahead when she thought there was no one looking. Jae had been terribly distracted from practice too, making their coach beyond furious with her.

Once he had seen his coach screaming at Jae again, and Jinho thought it was too much even for a scolding. He had wanted to confront the old man, but his girlfriend told him not to, saying she deserved it.

After that incident, however, instead of improving, Yunjae's lapses worsened. These days, the slender swimmer rarely swam. She spent her time on extracurricular activities sitting on the bench looking pale and sickly. Not only that, Jinho could feel her drifting slowly away from everything – including him.

Jinho was scared. He didn't like what was happening one bit and it was distracting him. Oh, he was still fast, and he was still determined to win the nationals as it had been his longtime dream. Then again, with this concern with Yunjae, he found that swimming didn't hold weight against his lover.

If he would choose one, he'd choose Jae. Hands down. He would be upset because he was this close to his dream championship, but if he had Jae, he knew he'd forget it soon enough.

So what was wrong? "Jae?" he called again, and his lover turned to him with almost vacant eyes.

"N-nothing," she answered which told Jinho that there was something going on and he would find it out.

Days after that time, Jinho found Yunjae crying as she talked on her phone.

"Jae?" he called again and he saw surprise registering on his lover's face as she hastily ended her conversation. "Who's that? Why are you crying?" he asked as he tried to gather her in his arms, but she stepped away, and his blood went cold.

He watched with hurt almond eyes as she turned away from him. "Coach wanted to talk to me. Go home first," she said huskily and Jinho was not able to do anything but watch her walk away.

He didn't go home though. Jinho sat outside the building, waiting for Yunjae to come out. He would confront his lover today, he decided.

A few minutes after, he saw "him", the same guy he'd seen with Yunjae years ago at the first competition they attended together as one team. The guy glanced at his direction before pausing outside the entrance as if waiting for someone, and Jinho's heart constricted painfully in his chest. He couldn't understand, but seeing the man told Jinho that whatever's going on, it was not something simple.

And he was right.

Not long after that, a tearful Jae came out of the building and ran straight into the man's arms.

His face registering disbelief, Jinho continued to watch as the guy placed a kiss on top of Yunjae's head, watched him murmur against his lover's ears as he held her tight, and Jinho just realized he was already shaking, his eyes hot with unshed tears.

The glare he sent them must have alerted Jae to his presence. Jinho watched as she turned to him, saw as how his lover's eyes widened in shock upon seeing him there watching her betrayal with another man.

Then again, who was Jinho kidding? Even before he and Jae became lovers, the man was already in the picture. If anything, it was the guy whom Jae cheated on with Jinho. He, Kang Jinho was the other guy – the third party.

"Jin…" Yunjae called using the nickname she'd given him, and Jinho couldn't take it anymore. He turned and walked away blindly without looking back. He needed to get away from here, was all he thought as he left.

"Jin, please wait," Jae called and he walked faster away. "Please wait, Jin…" his lover continued to call as he crossed the busy street but he still didn't stop until he heard the ominous sound of cars screeching into a halt.

"Jin!" Yunjae screamed, and when Jinho turned, he saw her sprawled on the asphalt eyes wide at the coming truck. His blood running cold, all thoughts flying away, he ran like the wind with the goal of reaching her side.

"Jae!" he called as he reached her, reflexively pulling her up and then pushing her out of harm's way in time.

But it was too late for him.

In slow motion, with all the sounds whirring in his ears, he saw how Jae's face filled with horror as he felt a huge blow on his side.

In what seemed like an eternity, Jinho found himself flying away from her, even as he stretched his hands desperately reaching out for her.


It was the last word that escaped his lips, for, in a matter of milliseconds, Jinho felt himself slamming against the glass as he heard it breaking into pieces against his back, ripping against his skin, piercing muscles and his spine.


In his pain, he thought he heard her scream for him.

Fearfully, as he tasted the rusty tang of his blood in his mouth, his eyes searched the crowd for the face he held dear. The pain he's feeling wouldn't matter as long as Jae's alright.

And she was.

Standing a few feet from him, his lover looked at him as she cried.

Jinho lifted a shaking hand, his lips trembled as he tried to smile in spite of the hurt, but the man, the man he saw holding Jae earlier stepped in and pulled her away.

No…Don't leave…Stay. Stay with me…

He pleaded with his mind as he watched his lover go, and as soon as she was out of his sight, he suddenly lost his will to fight. In pain and in heartbreak, he drowned.

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