Title: Never let me go
Summary: They are kept in a school. Born, taught and bred. For one purpose and one purpose only.
A/N: some parts of the plot are quite jumpy, as are the tenses. But I had to. I couldn’t use the narrative I wanted without doing that! But it’s not that hard to follow:D hope you like it!
For champagneshotsMerry Xmas my beloved neighbour who will remain my beloved neighbour no matter where you go:)
I know we promised each other Xmas fics but I'm ashamed to say that I haven't been able to finish a proper one so I'm splitting this into two parts! I'm not extremely happy with this fic and I'm somewhat stuck on part 2. Hope you enjoy it though><
[Part 1: How could we leave if we knew not how to live]
Junsu stood alone, a small boy at the edge of the bleachers, crunching dusty gravel beneath his feet as he watched the other boys play soccer across the field.
If you didn't know why Junsu hadn't been able to go and play like he wanted to, you'd think that he was being punished by a teacher.
"Why don't you go join them?" a young boy just about Junsu's age seats himself on the bleachers just where his head is. His name is Jung Yunho and he is perhaps the only person in Eshem that bothers to speak to Junsu at all.
"Didn't get picked." Junsu mumbles under his breath.
"Just go anyway then." Yunho nudges Junsu in the back with the tip if his shoe.
You'd think that it wouldn't have done any good but it was enough to send Junsu galloping over the field like the boys had just called him over to substitute a player.
Yunho smiles, watching the game. He is quickly joined by Shim Changmin, a junior. They watch as Junsu joins the tucked-outs and scores an easy goal within the first five minutes. He is clearly the best player but never for the life of Yunho could he understand why people simply did not like Kim Junsu.
Junsu is about to score his fourth goal when Lee Donghae, a tucked-in, pushes Junsu face flat into the hard dusty field. And as though Junsu never scored those three goals, he becomes the object of ridicule once again.
Yunho knows that Junsu will burst out into one of his fits again within seconds and like a bad movie rerun, it does, causing the other boys to scatter in all directions to escape the splattering mud.
Yuno stands up, wanting to run over to stop the berating but feels Changmin's hand wrap around his wrist. "No hyung, you can't go there."
"But he needs to stop. He just needs someone to help him that's all."
"Junsu can't rely in you forever. He has to learn to deal with his own problems and in time he'll be as good as new. Trust me."
There was a way about how Changmin said 'trust me' that makes Yunho sit down immediately.
Yunho watches helplessly as the boys continue to point to the raging Junsu, laughing with their noses turned upwards at him. He can’t help laughing a little when Junsu glares at them as they run away. Cowards, he thinks.
Perhaps he should have done something about it. But it wasn't until he hears Changmin whisper just loud enough for Yunho to hear, "well he probably deserved it anyway." that he wishes he had. After all, he had sent Junsu onto the field in the first place.
Yunho decides not to say a word to Junsu for the next week or so, lest he let slip something along the lines of his betrayal. But he knows he can’t avoid this situation forever. And he knows this especially well when Junsu calls him over a few days after to a corner in the park.
“Hey Junsu, about the other day…” he starts, but Junsu cuts in.
“Hey, I really wanted to ask you something. I was talking to Miss Kang the other day and asking her about outdoor excursions when she mentioned something about us being unready for the world outside. What do you think she means? I mean we’re all well and old enough right? All those books we read. People grow up and leave this place. Why can’t we?”
Yunho is still recovering from the fact that Junsu seemed to have forgotten, or had chosen to let the whole debacle go, before he can answer. “Huh? Yeah well, I think you’re thinking too much. Principal Lee hasn’t started any of us on ‘real-world’ classes yet like the older students. I hardly think we're ready for the outside at all.”
Junsu shrugs, “maybe you’re right. But I can’t help but feel that they’re keeping something from us. The seniors seem to know something to. Maybe if I--”
But Yunho cuts him off with a light fist bump to Junsu’s shoulder. “There you go with your wild imagination again. Well I’d best be off if I were you and wanted to get lunch before dessert gets swiped by the sunbaenims!” and Yunho runs off, completely forgetting to resume the remorse that he had so geared himself up to show Junsu just moments before.
Yunho trails circles on his floor at the edge of his bed in his blue striped pajamas, a small hand wrapped around his bedpost.
He has a record playing “Never Let Me Go” in the background, the singer’s sultry vocals drowning out all his thoughts, inducing Yunho to land both feet in graceful sweeps across the floor in a slow waltz.
He doesn’t notice for ages Yoochun is standing at the door frame watching him, amused, until the music ends. Yunho flushes a bright scarlet as he tries to redeem himself in his feeble attempt to feign nonchalance as though nothing has happened.
Yoochun pretends to try and stifle a giggle as he plops himself onto Yunho’s bed, inviting conversation. “Yunho, I wanted to talk to you. It’s about Junsu.”
“What about him?” Yunho is half glad that Yoochun has brought up a topic to forget his embarrassment. He climbs onto his bed beside Yoochun to look him full in the face.
“Nothing much. It’s just, why do you hang around him so much? He’s not popular, or well-liked by any of us.”
“Oh but Junsu’s my friend! I don’t have any issues with him. And I really think you should all give him a chance. He’s really a wonderful person!” Yunho almost shouts it at this point because part of him wishes that the rest of Eshem recognize Junsu for the awesome person he is. Not the weird, crazy-tempered kid that everyone thought him out to be.
Yoochun sniffles as though the thoughts weren’t his own, as though he was merely a messenger. “Well, that’s what people think anyway. And I just think that you should be careful what others think of you hanging out with him. What would people say honestly?”
“What do they say?”
“Well I don’t know!” Yoochun gets a little frustrated and quickly jumps of the bed to leave, wishing he had not invited this conversation.
“Oh Yoochun!” Yunho calls out to the retreating figure that was just a few feet from the frame of his dormitory. “Why do you think we aren’t ready for the outside world yet? The teachers seem to think so.”
“Must be because we haven’t had real-world classes yet right? I hardly think I’d be brave enough to leave Eshem without those classes!” Yoochun shouted back and continued out the door, waving goodbye to Yunho as he left.
“Well I supposed you’re right.” Yunho says to an empty room. He had hoped for another answer. Maybe Junsu was right. Maybe there was something more that Eshem was keeping from them.
Yunho wished that Yoochun had not said those things about Junsu. He went to the record player and lifted the needle, dropping it on the spinning plastic on “Never Let Me Go”.
And as the jazzy tones filled the otherwise empty space, he remembered how he had gotten this record in the first place.
“Why aren’t you in the Sales with everyone else? You better hurry or the good stuff will be taken!” Junsu was tugging at Yunho’s elbow in the direction of the Sports Halls that was then brimming with ecstatic students looking for a good deal.
The Sales were a seasonal event where the students of Eshem could trade points collected through classes and errands for knick-knacks. They were the highlight of the life of an Eshem student’s as better hauls would indicate greater power and standing amongst your peers.
“Oh I’ll just wait till the crowd dies down. There’s bound to be something left.” Yunho remained rooted to his seat, his face lighted up with a knowing smile whilst Junsu frantically pulled at his arm.
“Fine, suit yourself!” and Junsu ran in to join the never-ending stream of chattering students.
He emerged minutes later with a grin as wide as Cheshire looking again for Yunho who had not moved from his seat at the benches. “Yunho, I got you something!” Junsu pulled out a record from behind him, it’s cover read “50 Best Jazz Tracks”.
Yunho accepted the gift, eyes wide with surprise and some extent of joy while Junsu provided a commentary. “Well I knew you like music so I got this record. You can use the communal record player to listed to it and I guess with the word ‘best’, there really is no going wrong!”
When Yunho found his voice he could only stutter a thanks. “I love it! Oh but Junsu, your credits! I should buy something for you!”
“Oh it’s no biggie! I don’t need anything in there anyway. You go have fun. I’m going to play soccer now!” And Junsu tottered away to his solo game in the field.
“Children, we are going to tell you why you are here. Why you are in Eshem. We are going to tell you your purpose for living.”
Those words never left Yunho’s mind—him, and perhaps the other fifty Eshem students of his year. It took him three whole weeks to understand the gravity of Principal Jung’s message. To piece together his education, his upbringing in Eshem up to that point of time. Everything just made a whole lot more sense.
The common room became filled with these talks for ages after Principal Jung’s address. Brighter topics like “so we can have sex as much as we want?”, especially since they found out that they could engage in sexual intercourse without the risk of STDs or babies, became a common subject. The darker ones like donating and death after five donations still floated around, but quietly, only amongst close friends.
It soon became evident that Junsu had to continue his revelation to Yunho along the lines of “see I told you something was up”.
“Yeah but there’s nothing we can do. We can’t leave Eshem. We’re not allowed.” Yunho is talking in whispers, as though it was a carefully guarded secret.
“Then what should we do? Let them kill us? I refuse to remain reticent and watch my friends die, and that means you.” Junsu is all furious and seething but Yunho smiles because he knows he means well.
He thinks that perhaps everyone at Eshem knew all along. Perhaps everyone already had an inkling that they were brought up for no other purpose other than to be disposed of. That would explain the heavy classroom emphasis of impeccable hygiene and health. That and biology class.
Knowing that by the age of twenty-five they would be prepped and ready for donations scared Yunho. He had huge plans for his future. He wanted to own a restaurant in France, because that was the country that Miss Song went on endlessly about, and it seemed the most beautiful from all the pictures.
Principal Jung said that they would start their donations in their late twenties, if they got jobs as carers or in the homes that they would be shipped off to after Eshem. They’d go through up to four donations, most may complete before even reaching four and if they did survive, they’d be put to sleep anyway because no way they’d live for long with that many parts missing.
Maybe they were too young at the time to realize the gravity of the situation. After all, they were at the age where being in a relationship and personal image meant much more than the sanctity of their lives. Years from then Yunho would talk to Junsu about the first time they found out that they would live only to die, and wish that they had found a way to leave Eshem sooner.
Many of the students found various ways to deal with the news. Most of the girls would hold secret rendezvous in each other’s dorms and discuss possible future plans. Some of the boys like Sungmin resorted to stealing as a cathartic release for his fear. Of course he was cut some slack given the circumstances but his newfound kleptomaniacal nature had him sent to the school counselor for extra sessions.
Kyuhyun, who was often known to be the resident debonair, saw an exponential increase in his sex life. He never held on to a single relationship and never failed to find a new partner to sleep with each night, his most repeated bed buddy being Donghae.
Yoochun, on the other hand, was seen to be talking to Junsu on more than one occasion. When asked, he merely shrugged Yunho off with a ‘I decided to take your advice and try to be friends with him.’
They were attached within the month.
It was five years before they left Eshem. Yunho, Junsu and Yoochun found themselves sent to the Cottages together, along with Changmin, Jaejoong, Jessica and Tiffany.
Yoochun remained close friends with Yunho, but he always felt the need to justify his relationship with Junsu, particularly when he was with Yunho. He became slightly more touchy-feely with Junsu when Yunho was around. Though Yunho was fully aware of this fact, especially with Junsu’s face contorting into uncomfortable expressions, he had chosen to ignore Yoochun as he knew it was merely Yoochun’s need to feel secure. These acts of affection however, got worse when they reached the Cottages.
Junsu, Yoochun and Yunho spent ages planning their lives at the Cottages, in a world outside Eshem. The thought of being free from school and being slightly more in control of their lives apart from their inevitable fate on the operation table gave the three something to look forward to.
The veteran couples at the Cottages like Nichkhun and Victoria, Kibum and Heechul, and Simon D and Lady Jane, led by Papa JK and Mama Tasha, seemed almost inseparable. As though he felt the need to prove that their relationship was as good as any other couple, Yoochun decided that he and Junsu too, would not be seen one without the other.
This annoyed Yunho at first as he couldn’t get a decent conversation in with Junsu, what with Yoochun hanging around all the time. He also could not talk to Yoochun who was acting as though he was long part of the veteran couple, and being completely superficial.
One day at the table, when Mama Tasha had cooked them a perfectly ordinary dinner of Bean paste stew and Kimchi friend rice, Yoochun decided to comment on the food.
“Oh my gawd, this is really good! How did you make this? You have to teach me one day.”
It wasn’t what Yoochun had said, but how he said it that really got Yunho off. He sounded just like Joey from Friends. And before he knew it, Yunho had responded with a “Mama Tash has made this before. Why are you making it out like you’ve never eaten this food? And stop mimicking those tv people. It’s annoying.”
Yoochun glared a “you’re-my-best-friend-why-aren’t-you-ba
When they first got to the cottages they were surprised to see a chubby little boy running around in the field chasing butterflies.
“I thought we couldn’t have kids?” Jessica whispered to Jaejoong when she saw the boy. Her voice quivered as though she had discovered something potentially dangerous. Like a secret hope for her life doomed to sterility the moment she was created.
“Oh you can’t. But we can.” A lady with a warm voice and uneven, but nevertheless perfectly imperfect teeth approached them from behind carrying a basket filled with oranges. She was followed closely behind by a tall man with thick curls, holding a pair of shears. “I’m Tasha and this is Joong Kook but you can call us Mama Tash and Papa JK. And we are your guardians. We aren’t donors like you but we’re what you call ‘complete’. That’s why we can have kids.”
“Well he’s gorgeous,” Tiffany cut in to distract from the audible sigh that Jessica had let out. “What’s his name.”
“Well, before I answer you, boys make yourself useful,” Mama Tasha said, immediately commanding such a presence that had Yunho, Changmin and Junsu running up to her to offer to carry the basket. She dusted her gloves when she was relived and continued, “That’s Baby Jordan. He’s about three years old now. He’ll be fun to have around, and for you to adjust to the world outside your school.”
As though an invisible microphone was passed, Paper JK continued on, “we will need y’all to help with the chores. Women at home and in the gardens with Mama, men in the fields with me. We’ll teach you basic work skills otherwise y’all will just be rotting away in the Cottages. Every Sunday though, we get the van and we can drive into the town for church, meals, shopping, and whatever else y’all wanna do. Now Sy!” he called over to a young man sporting orange hair running toward them from the Cottages. “Everybody this is Simon. He’s been with us five years bow. He’ll show you to your rooms and get you settled in for the night. When you’re done, be at the dining room by seven, dinner will be served. Sy, show them where the rooms are.”
“Yes sir! C’mon this way guys,” he gestured toward the house, walking off without waiting for them to unload their luggages.
Everything was different out of Eshem, and they had to, by hook or by crook get use to it.
Yunho liked Yoochun best when they were alone together, without the veterans around. He was the Yoochun that he once knew and they could do anything together. And with Papa JK giving them similar work shifts (he didn’t want to put the couples together) Yunho found the old Yoochun in their lengthy talks, and he liked it, because it felt as though nothing had changed at all.
“Yunho are you lonely? I mean, do you wish you had gotten into a relationship while we were at Eshem?” Yoochun asks one day as he shaves away at a large tree trunk which Papa JK had mandated would be used to build a new garden shed.
“Why the sudden question?”
“Well, I guess because we’ve been together forever and when I got together with Junsu, well, it’s like we left you alone. I mean, Jess is with Jaejoong, Changmin’s with that boy from Waigee… Why not Tiffany? You guys seem good together.”
“Nah, did her already. Not my type.” Yunho said and continued shaving away at his piece of wood.
Yunho hadn’t really been together with anyone since Eshem, mostly flings not lasting more than a month, those and many one-night stands. It didn’t really occur to Yunho that he had to be in a relationship for his life to feel any more ‘enriched’ than it already was. He never understood the need to be in a relationship if babies or anything long-term was out of the question. And despite the fact that many of his peers expressed their opinion that Yunho would be Yoochun’s natural ‘successor’ with Junsu, he never felt bitter towards his best friend in anyway.
“You sure you’re good? I hear there’s a farm just a mile down the road with loads more of people like us.”
“Oh I know what this is all about,” Yoochun leans onto one leg, his palm pressing against his piece of wood. “It’s all us couples you’ve been around isn’t it! You’ve been hanging around couple so long, especially me and Junsu, that you’ve gone all funny. You can’t commit like we can because you're scared! Admit it!”
“Oh shut up. It’s not like that.” Yunho mumbles. His wood is nearly half shaved away and he continues.
“Oh don’t give me that. Just admit it. Whatever it is Yunho, you really have to learn how to open yourself up again! It’s not just a…”
“Look, I said drop it okay!” Yunho let his electric saw drop limply to his side without looking up. He was positively fuming at that point, his mind toying with the idea of throwing the saw at Yoochun and forgoing his donorship potential and simply storming out of that place, not speaking too Yoochun again.
“What’s your deal? I was just trying to help!” Yoochun too, is fuming. “I don‘t see why you can’t just shut it and accept the help I wanna give you! I’m sick and tired of you looking at me and Junsu all the time and giving me that ‘look’ of yours that makes me out to be some boyfriend stealer!” He’s approaching the unspoken topic and Yunho’s blood temperature just about hits its maximum. Yet Yoochun continues, intoxicated by anger, “So what if I was jealous when I saw Junsu and you together? So what if I snatched Junsu up from under your nose? You hadn’t told him yet, you hadn’t figured that you liked him yet. And I was after all, the hottest guy in Eshem. Of course he’d pick me over you. I don’t see why you keep--”
Junsu’s figure seemed to suddenly materialize at the doorway, cutting out light from the workroom. It was enough to startle Yoochun from him ramble, and enough for Yunho to remain silent.
Junsu left the room that day and as far as anyone knew, it pretty much was the end of Yoochun and Junsu. Yunho had registered himself to be a carer and promptly left the cottages to start his training.