Signature Chapter 20
Okay, APOLOGIES to all. Understandably, this chapter was a little difficult because...it sets the mood for everything to come, and I don't know if I got it perfect, but its workable, and its much better than the attempts I've been coming up with for the past three weeks. Now that this chapter is finished, I'm expecting the next few chapters to go a little easier.
But God, this fic has such a long way to go. haha.
Comments PLEASE, you know how I love them.
Chansook would be lying if she said she hadn’t been avoiding Jaejoong. She had been working as much as humanly possible, and staying away from the apartment every other moment. She was admittedly nervous to see him again, and a little angry, and a little scared.
But it had to happen eventually, and apparently tonight was that night, because Sangmin was demanding that she meet Jaejoong for dinner.
Chansook gave her name to the host and was led around the corner to the dining area.
He was seated facing away from her, playing with his cloth napkin as he waited. The host stopped beside the table and began to pull out her chair. Jaejoong jumped up and excused the man, doing the task himself. Chansook sat in the chair while he helped to push it closer to the table and then he paused, like he was considering running away.
Instead, Jaejoong resumed his seat across from her, seemingly gathering his thoughts.
“Hey, Chansook,” he said softly, meeting her eyes lightly. “Welcome home.”
“Thank you,” she said using formal language.
He ordered drinks for them. The two sat in silence for several long minutes, awkward throat-clearing and sipping of water, glancing around the fancy restaurant to see other couples—real, happy couples. Finally the silence broke.
“You would think I would know the right thing to say, but I just don’t,” Jaejoong said.
Chansook had forgotten how smooth his voice was.
“I don’t even know where to begin,” he continued. He glanced away quickly, laying his fist over his mouth, and Chansook thought his eyes were watering.
This would be an appropriate moment for Chansook to speak up, but she was feeling very calm. She felt no obligation to take the pressure off of him. He had done wrong and he deserved to suffer for it a little.
Just then he straightened up and pinned her with his gaze.
“Please talk, before I make a fool of myself.”
“I think it’s too late for that,” she said automatically.
Jaejoong took a sharp intake of breath, and then seemed to deflate. Chansook blinked a little at her own blunt response, but she glanced away and let him take it for what it was.
“Jaejoong,” she said as if leading into something very serious. “I don’t really want to talk about it.”
His eyes widened.
“Chansook, we can’t not talk about it…”
“I know, I know,” she said impatiently. “But not right now.”
He acknowledged this with his typical downward glance and parted lips.
They ate dinner in complete silence, and Jaejoong thought that Sangmin would probably rather they had stayed home than go out in public with such a cold air between them.
“Korea News at 10:30, Newsen at 2, Ilbon Daily at 4:30--,” Jihyun rattled off the day’s appointments.
“But that one’s Japanese…” Chansook butted in.
“Yes, don’t interrupt, dinner with the Han Globe Board at 7…”
Chansook thought her receptionist was a little stressed, and she couldn’t blame her. It had been a long weekend and it was going to be an even longer week. Chansook had barely been home since her short stay in Japan, which was fine with her—there was nothing she wanted more than to be busy.
The two women had just had an early breakfast in the café at the Han Global, Inc. building in order to discuss some important upcoming events. As they rode up the elevator and walked onto their floor, another coworker opened the glass doors leading into their department. They approached Jihyun’s desk and a very nervous-looking man cleared his throat.
“Jihyun-ssi, the morning papers.” He handed her a stack of newspapers and she thanked him with a smile. Chansook was hiding her own smile as she pushed open her office doors and waited for Jihyun to follow her inside.
“My receptionist has a receptionist now?” she asked.
“No,” Jihyun smiled. “He just offered to gather the morning news for me.”
“He’s just wrapped around your little finger,” Chansook said dryly.
Chansook set her bag on her desk and pressed her voicemail, allowing all the messages to play while Jihyun began to sort through the mail that had arrived that morning.
“Sangmin sent this,” Jihyun said, handing her an envelope as she listened to a message from a collaborative fashion designer. Chansook looked at it without much interest, trying to decide whether to delete this voicemail message or send it on to the fashion department.
“How’s your mother, by the way?” her friend asked. “You went to see her, right?”
Chansook’s face turned into a tight smile-like grimace. Jihyun understood this to mean she didn’t want to discuss it at the moment, and she politely left Chansook to her work.
Chansook opened the large envelope, pulling out several large photos of Dong Bang Shin Ki. They were the multiple photos which would grace their new CD.
The band seemed to be taking a big step in a new direction. Usually when she saw their merchandise, the boys were posed just so, showing themselves off to the best advantage, looking perfect and godly.
These shots were fresh and casual. Rather than wearing tight pants and feminine-style low-cut shirts, they wore sweatpants, shorts, or jeans with t-shirts, looking at ease and not afraid to show a genuine smile. The hairstyles were ruffled, not the product of hours of work, and they looked well-rested and content.
Chansook laid the pictures aside and glanced at the other papers Sangmin had sent, some data he wanted her to look over regarding this CD’s expectations. There were CD sales for the past 4 albums, successes on the local music charts and the like. She remembered reading about the pre-order numbers for this album coming out soon.
Suddenly she threw it all on the corner of her desk, feeling a spark of anger. She was sick of all of this. All of it.
“And on air in five, four, three, two…”
The five guys were seated around two long tables. They all had a pair of headphones and a microphone on the table in front of them. The host welcomed them to the radio show and they had some small talk before he began to discuss their new album.
“It must be hard coming up with hits year after year,” he commented. “But I’ve been able to listen to a few of the tracks from the new album and this one is something special. You guys want to talk about it?”
Yunho began to tell him about the fact that they wanted to get away from all concepts on this album and really be themselves. He didn’t mention that this could be their last album, but the idea that they wanted to show the country what they were really made of still applied. The guys had all put themselves into this album; they had all contributed to the lyrics, the songwriting and composition, the production. If any album had ever made a statement about an artist before, this album was it. They hadn’t sung anything that they didn’t personally have a hand in, and because of that, they thought the album was the most cohesive thing they’d ever made.
Jaejoong watched Yunho as he talked about a few of the tracks. He wanted to wince with every word that came out of the man’s mouth. He didn’t trust anything Yunho said anymore. Everything was a lie. While Yunho was busy being management’s bitch, the other guys had been working on this album. Yunho was a front man for Dong Bang Shin Ki’s artistry. And now he was sitting here advertising himself.
Changmin glanced over at him with a warning glance, and he backed away from his microphone.
On a warm Sunday afternoon the company was holding a rehearsal at a local park for a performance that would take place the following Friday. Chansook and Jaejoong drove over and she sat with the employees in the park while the boys were on a still-being-constructed stage. She got some work-related things out of the way via mobile and then joined the staff in enjoying some snacks.
Jaejoong watched her from the stage. Chansook hadn’t brought up the incident even once since she’d seen him. She insisted on keeping silent about her feelings, but Jaejoong wasn’t going to let her get away with it. The only thing that indicated how she felt towards him was a tendency to use Japanese around him. If and when they spoke, their interactions were awkward because of the slight language barrier, and he could tell she was trying to build a wall. He knew if they didn’t address this it would come back to haunt them both.
When rehearsal was over they all began the walk back to the parking lot. Chansook was walking beside some female staffers and Jaejoong joined her, setting a pace so slow that they quickly fell behind the group. He asked her about work and received little in way of response.
“Listen,” he said. “We need to have a talk tonight. It’s time to get this stuff out in the open.”
“What stuff?” she asked, but it wasn’t really a question.
“It isn’t good to ignore it,” he said pointedly.
“Sorry; I just find that really funny coming from you, but I already told you. I don’t want to talk about it.”
In this whole exchange she never even looked at him.
Jaejoong stopped cold.
“Yah!” he shouted. Chansook nearly tripped, and she spun around in surprise.
“What?!” she asked. “Jesus.”
“Come. Here,” he said between clenched teeth. Chansook hastily glanced around to make sure no one was watching, and she regretted following his command but couldn’t exactly ignore him.
“What is wrong with you?” she demanded when she’d come closer.
“You have to speak to me,” Jaejoong said. “There will be no more of this stupid silence. We’re going to talk about what happened and you will not ignore me any longer. You’re breaking your contract, but more importantly you’re acting like a child.”
She was offended.
“I understand your feelings are hurt because I’m not giving you all my attention, Jaejoong, but you can’t tell me what to do and your insecurities do not warrant you to get into my business.”
His eyes were steely.
“And I understand you don’t want to address our issues because you’d rather pretend they don’t exist, but look how well that’s worked in every other area of your life.”
Her jaw dropped.
“How dare you…”
“You’re right,” he cut her off. “I have no right to butt into your personal life, and that is why I am imploring you simply to work out the issues we have with each other. This awkwardness is unbearable. You don’t have to forgive me, but you do have to live with me.”
She took a deep breath. The other members and the staff were far ahead now, but she and Jaejoong remained on the sidewalk.
“Okay,” she said. “We’ll talk.”
“Good,” he said. He reached out and took the heavy picnic basket she was carrying, even though he already had his practice bag slung over his shoulder. Then they walked towards the parking lot to catch up with the rest of the group.
When they got home that night Jaejoong took a quick shower and then returned to the living room where Chansook had been instructed to wait.
“Okay,” he said, taking a seat. “Now just give me a minute.” He gathered his thoughts, and then turned towards her. “I’m really sorry about what happened. You obviously know that Yunho and I were in a relationship, and he broke it off out of nowhere. I was taken off guard, shocked, angry…and something just snapped inside me.” He chanced a glance at her. “It’s never happened before and I swear it will never happen again, especially not around you. It’s my fault that you’re in this situation at all and I never wanted to hurt you.”
Chansook nodded at him.
He waited, but she said nothing.
“So…what do you want to say to me?”
She shook her head.
Jaejoong blinked, examining her face for any betrayal of emotion, but he found nothing, just as she said.
“What do you mean, ‘nothing?’ Chansook, I almost…I could have really hurt you.”
“But you didn’t,” she said. “So let’s just forget about it.”
“Chansook, you said we were going to talk about this!”
“Yeah, but you’re the only one who had anything to say!” she argued. “So if there’s nothing else, consider this conversation had. I’ll see you later.”
Jaejoong’s lips parted and he watched as Chansook got up off the couch and walked away.
Chansook was going out for the dinner engagement later that week. Jaejoong tried to stay out of her way as she gathered her things and got ready. He was searching for something to make for dinner when he heard a phone ringing. Chansook’s cell phone was sitting on the counter.
He ignored it and turned back to the fridge, but he realized that Chansook was probably still in the bathroom. He picked up the phone.
“Chansook, your phone is ringing,” he called. He glanced down at the tiny screen as the bathroom door opened.
Omma ui uisa, the caller blinks. Masumi’s doctor. Chansook approached and Jaejoong could feel himself looking up with wide eyes. He handed it away quickly and she took it with apprehension after judging his expression.
“Moshi moshi?” she answered, her voice tense. After a moment her face relaxed a little. Jaejoong retreated to the kitchen. “Oh, alright. She’s okay, then? …Okay, good. Yes, I have a minute. What’s wrong?”
Jaejoong was keeping his hands occupied but he couldn’t help eavesdropping as best as he could on the one-sided Japanese conversation.
“What do you mean she won’t take the medication? She already refused the treatment, what’s wrong with the pain medication?” Chansook said from the doorway of her bedroom. Several long minutes passed. “I understand,” she said. “I understand that, but tell her it’s no object. It absolutely doesn’t matter. There’s no reason to worry about things like that. If it’s all taken care of, will she do the treatments?”
They were talking about money. Jaejoong assumed Chansook’s mother was refusing treatment because of the costs. No doubt she was as headstrong as Chansook was, which meant if she had made up her mind, no one could change it.
Jaejoong was lost in thought when Chansook spoke again.
“Yes, I understand!” she said defensively. “I understand that as well as you, but there’s not much I can say… Yes, okay. Thank you for calling, Doctor.”
She hung up and stood in her room for a minute. When she came back out to the kitchen to grab her purse, Jaejoong glanced at her. She caught him looking and blinked, as if unsure whether she should say something to explain the call. In the end she decided against it.
“Good night,” she said simply, and left the apartment.
All this Japanese was good for practice, Jaejoong supposed, but it was cold and impersonal coming from Chansook.