Reunion Chapter 18
For me, breakfast was the first meal that I woke up to, even though it was a time when it was too late to say breakfast or too early to say it was lunch. However, after entering Jang Yoonsung’s house, I tried to eat on time as much as I could. Jang Yoonsung didn’t wake me up in the morning to eat, but I couldn’t help but do so after seeing him prepare his own meal, whether I woke up or not. It was the same that morning as well, even after something unsavory ended up happening the night before.
“I guess you didn’t get much sleep.”
Jang Yoonsung asked with a smile as if I were an interesting spectacle. It wasn’t like I couldn’t sleep at all but my eyes were stiff and tiredness was visible. Instead of replying, I sat down on the table and rubbed my eyes with my dry hands.
“Do you want some coffee?”
Even though he was busy cracking eggs into the pan, Jang Yoonsung was impatient to take care of the lazy person who was sitting at the table. When Jang Yoonsung asked me to sit on the chair, he was rattling something again and brought me coffee immediately.
He put the coffee down in front of me and was already ready for work. When did Jang Yoonsung sleep and wake up? The thick coffee filled the wide cup looked like poison. Watching the black liquid reminded me of the white medicine bottle I saw in his room.
“What about you?”
Jang Yoonsung looked at me as if I asked something unexpected. I asked again, wondering if he couldn’t understand me.
“Did you sleep well?”
It was such a strange comment, I realized after I said it aloud. It seemed like a morning greeting that was not fitted for that time and it seemed I was complaining that I didn’t sleep well but he was able to sleep well. As if he had the same thought, he blinked slowly and replied with a smile.
Jang Yoonsung’s finger tapped the back of his fingers on the table. Maybe more gently than pressing the piano keys.
“What happened to me at dawn…Do you think I could sleep well after that?”
Yet, he was still smiling like always, I couldn’t figure out whether he was offended or not.
But, “happened to me” was a little harsh so I extracted my hand back. Jang Yoonsung slowly pulled his hands together and approached the pan where the eggs were being cooked.
Breakfast was shortly served. There was toasted bread, fried eggs, jam and fruits, and two cups of poison like coffee on the tray that Jang Yoonsung served before putting down his tablet with an apologetic face. There were many things he needed to check from the morning.
“It’s okay, don’t worry about it.”
Saying so, I bit down the bread as if I were hungry. Jang Yoonsung also took some bread and ate it, as he read the articles on his tablet. I swallowed the bread and watched his face.
Jang Yoonsung remained faithful to his work until the end. In the end, it seemed like his friendly nature was still there. How many people did he have mornings like this with? The brown eyes with the light pigments were still pretty. The fair face and neat gestures of his hand remained but the man sitting in front of me still felt unfamiliar. Was it because he drank strong coffee which tasted like poison? Was it because of his wider shoulders?
While I gauged the fallacious scenery and thoroughly scrutinized it, Jang Yoonsung softly called out my name.
He called me Hakyung, not Han Jiyoung. I answered in reflex, as I was always buried under that doubt. Jang Yoonsung didn’t lift his eyes from the tablet but he chuckled as if he was troubled.
“It bothers me though.”
I realized that my stares were obvious. As if saying that it was a bother wasn’t enough, he emphasized it a bit more.
On the evening of the second Friday at Jang Yoonsung’s house, Sungwook hyung called. It was a busy day and there were a lot of group reservations, however, one of the new part-timers left with a text message.
– Come and help me out for a while. I’ll let you go early.
While saying so in a troubled voice, Sungwook added something more as if he was worried.
– Try not to tell him.
He seemed to be looking out for Jang Yoonsung because I was already requested in a hurry several times before. Sungwook hyung might have to look out for him but I didn’t. It was definitely convenient for me to be in a position to help.
The limited vacation was sweet but the employee in me was attached to the bar. I didn’t know whose pocket the payment came from but the time I was at Jang Yoonsung’s bar, I still received my salary. Part of me felt responsible, so I left the house for the bar, using one of the cars Jang Yoonsung told me to use.
At the back of my mind, I wanted my absence there to be obvious; however, as always, the bar was doing well without any problem. If Jungmin and Jungho said that since I, hyung, wasn’t there, they were going to die and I should be there. Those guys were really smart. Since they said that, I really had to show off my skills.
As Sungwook hyung predicted, the bar began to crowd shortly after it opened. The welcome greeting was brief with the staff but since I was serving and cleaning the tables, time went by quickly.
“Wanna drink something?”
Sungwook hyung asked awkwardly after there was some breathing space when the customers who came as a crowd left eventually. He felt bothered that even though he sent me to Jang Yoonsung, he still called me to work.
“Coffee. The cold one.”
“Why are you asking for coffee in a bar?”
While saying that, Sungwook hyung called Jongmin to make two cups of coffee. Jungho, who had a good ear said, “Please make me one too.” even though he was far away from me. When I sat down at the end of the bar, Sungwook hyung came close and leaned against the bar.
“Is everything all right?”
He asked in a sour tone and he seemed worried. It was understandable. A man asked to lend one of his employees suddenly and without any reason. He seemed like he wouldn’t believe me even if I said I was living well without any particular problems. He believed that since I came out every time he called out to me, it seemed I wasn’t at least trapped somewhere.
“Yeah, it is.”
Even if something popped up, it wasn’t something I could tell anyone so I just shrugged my shoulders. Sungwook hyung looked suspicious but since Jongmin soon came with the coffee, I was able to avoid being questioned.
“Oh, there are too many customers today. Last week was totally dead. Because there was a rumor that you weren’t coming anymore, hyung.”
When the coffee was served, Jungho quickly intervened and flattered me. Considering that there were a lot of people when I stopped by a few days ago, it would be a lie anyway. Perhaps because he was thirsty, Jungho drank coffee like water and continued saying.
“Did you win a lottery?”
“Why a lottery?”
I asked with a strange tone. Sungwook hyung’s and Jongmin’s eyes were on Jungho. Jungho asked me as if I said something odd.
“The car you came with. I saw it earlier.”
“It’s not mine. I borrowed it from someone.”
“What kind of person lets someone borrow a car like that?”
“There is a person. Someone who has cars like that.”
“It’s a lottery, total lottery.”
Jungho nodded with a serious face as if what he said wasn’t wrong. Then he grabbed my hand and squeezed out his voice pretending to be mournful.
“You know I really love and respect you, right?”
“I don’t want to know.”
“No, you should know how I feel. You really have to.”
“Hey, hey, get off.”
I pushed the guy who stuck to me annoyingly. Nevertheless, Jungho stuck to me persistently but finally let go of me at the sound of the door opening. At last, it was the real deals that I didn’t see for a long time. Even as Jungho went to greet the customers, he didn’t forget to make a heart with his arms.
“Sigh, this guy.”
It wasn’t a day or two for Jungho to be that annoying and Sungwook hyung who was already used to it by then, sighed.
“I’ll go too then.”
Since the VIPs were in a big crowd, Jongmin quickly followed Jungho.
When Jungho greeted them, Kijoon greeted back with his eyes and turned to look at me instead. I bowed and Kijoon headed for the table along with his company before approaching me and Sungwook hyung.
“Wow, it has been a while. Right?”
Kijoon greeted Sungwook hyung briefly and talked to me.
“It seems so. Hello.”
I answered with a moderate smile. Except for the fact that I resembled Jang Yoonsung’s ex-girlfriend, Seo Kijoon was a man who had little interest in me. Nevertheless, he seemed quite pleased that day. Seo Kijoon sat in the chair next to me without asking my consent, as if it was not enough to end the conversation there.
“It worked out well. I will be able to see that precious face because of you. Why didn’t you come until now? Since you were not here, I was not able to see even a strand of Jang Yoonsung’s hair. Every time he is like home, home, he’s always like he has to go home. A home that barely has anything in it.”
Seo Kijoon took out his phone as if he wanted to call him right away. From what he said, it seemed Jang Yoonsung didn’t tell him that he was living with me at his home. Seo Kijoon, who was searching for Jang Yoonsung’s number, continued scrolling.
“Well…he must have a girl, I guess. Is there any reason to disturb him?”
Sungwook hyung, who didn’t want Jang Yoonsung to know that I was there, felt a bit troubled. The excuse he came up with in the end, was cringy, to say the least. Kijoon rolled his eyes at Sungwook hyung’s words, as he continued scrolling on his phone.
“A girl? No way, if Jang Yoonsung was much of a great man, there wouldn’t be an instance of him being dumped. He doesn’t take girls to his house.”
Sungwook hyung gave me a troubled look as if he was done for. The fact that the situation was troubling and that he needed help was closer to a groundless worry. I didn’t know what kind of agreement the two had, but Jang Yoonsung was not the type of person to complain about every little thing. Looking at Seo Kijoon calling someone, I looked at my own phone.
[Will you be late today? I’ll be out for a while. I might be late.]
As Sungwook hyung asked of me, my message to Jang Yoonsung didn’t reveal my destination. Jang Yoonsung called me instead of replying.
‘I won’t be late. Let’s watch a movie. While drinking beer.”
Jang Yoonsung also asked me not to be late, harboring any excuse. It was strange that there was no message from him about when I was coming, even if it was already past 9.
Didn’t he get off work yet? Finally, I stared at Seo Kijoon, curious about what Jang Yoonsung was up to. It seemed like it was still ringing. However, Seo Kijoon’s expression brightened up as soon as the other side answered the phone.
“What are you doing? Won’t you come? Hakyung is also here after a while.”
Seo Kijoon spoke in a triumphant voice as if he wasn’t able to put up with it anymore if Jang Yoonsung wasn’t present, however soon his voice lowered to a somber one and replied, “Really? Then it can’t be helped.”
The call seemed to end there. Seo Kijoon put down his cell phone with a puzzled face, tilted his face, and murmured.
When Sungwook hyung asked in a slightly nervous voice, Seo Kijoon mumbled, as if he was embarrassed.
“No, that…as you’ve said, there must be a girl. He said he wouldn’t be able to come because he had a guest and there was a girl’s voice in the back…he must be up to something.”
Seo Kijoon stressed several times that it was really rare and that what he said earlier wasn’t really a lie. Even if I didn’t believe Seo Kijoon, the time I stayed at Jang Yoonsung’s house, I could see that it was unusual for Jang Yoonsung to bring a girl into the house. I was glad to be there in the store. No matter who the person was, it was not a good thing to run into Jang Yoonsung’s guest.
“Anyway, I guess I tried. Ah, Hakyung. Yoonsung took off his cast. It has been a few weeks.”
Seo Kijoon stood up from his seat as if he was done with his business and said a piece of old news as if he was sorry that he used me to tease his friend.
Jang Yoonsung probably didn’t tell Seo Kijoon about me, so I thought whether I should answer that I knew about it or thank him for letting me know. In the meantime, he added kindly.
“There may be some pain for a while but they said it healed well.”
“Yes, that’s great. Thank you for taking care of me at the hospital…”
“Don’t worry about it. Then I’ll go to my friends. Let’s meet often, Hakyung.”
Seo Kijoon unwillingly returned to the real deal’s table once he saw me nod. I examined the table carefully. For some reason, only a few men came by that day. Was Jang Yoonsung’s guest one of the real deals? It might have been the woman, Cha Yeonju, who sometimes asked Seo Kijoon how Jang Yoonsung had been doing.
Sungwook hyung tapped me on the shoulder while I continued having useless thoughts. I didn’t know what call he had received but he was holding his phone in one hand.
“Hey, hurry up and go home.”
“Why all of a sudden? It’s still crowded.”
“No, Seo Kijoon said that you were here. So hurry up and go.”
“No, he has a guest too. Why? Did you get any calls?”
“That’s not it…”
When I asked persistently while looking at the pocket with the cell phone in it, Sungwook hyung sighed deeply and avoided answering.
It would have been right to contact me instead. That method was not something Jang Yoonsung would use. But to think of it, Jang Yoonsung used methods that were not like him to use, to lure me to his house. Sungwook hyung watched the busy bar and was troubled about whether or not he should send me home.
“If you are that troubled, just quit. Take me back.”
It was a joke but surprisingly a firm answer came back.
“I received a big one.”
Sungwook hyung brooded over it as if he couldn’t give it up.
“Big one? How many zeros were there?”
Sungwook hyung was the type of person to be satisfied with what he had. It made me curious to hear that person say that he received a big one. To be honest, Jang Yoonsung spending money to buy time with me was like throwing money on the street. How much did Jang Yoonsung intend to bet on something that might or not be meaningful?
When I waited patiently for an answer, Sungwook hyung erased his troubled expression and smiled.
“It’s not that simple. Anyway, I’ll repay you later so hurry and go home.”
Repay. Did he help Sungwook hyung with his family business even if it wasn’t for money? Anyway, it didn’t seem like Sungwook hyung was losing any money. I thought that was enough. I left the hall that was still crowded behind me and got back into Jang Yoonsung’s car.
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