The Hour Past Midnight

134 Rue de Paradis
Edit:  A/N There's a book called the The Hour Past Midnight in this fic. This has nothing to do with the book that actually is published. Please don't misunderstand and associate my writing to the respectable work that the author has done. That would be a complete and utter disservice to the author

      Another year had passed almost in the blink of an eye. 2004 had been a wonderful year, graduating from university was all that he wanted, so how had it all gone downhill the next? Mindless phrases were strewn across the screen aimlessly. At some point, there was a spark of passion that jolted them into place, but that too was quickly waning. File. Move to Bin. ‘A hit to Stem-Cell Research’, cloning was becoming big talk in the nation after the exposé of Hwang Woo-suk, and he was once again stuck writing the same report that could truly only be described as tabloid trash. Jaehyun had managed to write a couple of sentences before a frustrated sigh left his lips. Today was not the day. When was it ever? The keys made an awful clamour of clicks as the pair of hands violently fell on top of it, he could hear the sound over his headphones that played a light beat intended to help him concentrate.
          “You good, bro?” His roommate asks and Jaehyun could only groan in response. The article was due at the end of the week but he couldn't find enough motivation or energy to care. Closing the laptop before him, his eyes settled on the book that was on his nightstand. The Hour Past Midnight, the book cover was foggy, midnight blue painted across the front with the distant sparkling lights of the Eiffel tower. The story set in Paris had a certain ambience that pulled him in a little deeper each time he read the book. Like the comfort of drowning in a sad song after a breakup.
          I have lost count of the times I've stood here, at the edge of the water, gazing up at the Notre Dame in all of her glory. The spire stands in proud assurance, in character with a city that has more than its share of monuments to grandeur. It has the effect of diminishing all else to insignificance.
          One is great, or one is not.
          The John Robins of the world who find success, the giants of the industry etch their silhouette into the horizon, and I stand in the shadows, in the darkness of an unfulfilled existence and stare up with mixed resentment and reverence at those unreachable heights. But there is a beauty in unattainability, there is a beauty in John Robin, the anomaly, the dawn that pushed though the hour past midnight.
          So I write.
          A teardrop stained Jaehyun’s cheek as it rolled down, soon to be stopped by his hand that quickly wiped it away. His instinct is to turn to his wall, hide the fact that a book had produced such feelings within him, only to feel foolish for attempting to hide his emotions from an empty room. There was something about the ending that had pulled at his heartstrings, but the romanticized expression of sadness was cathartic… and somehow unsettling. Society repeats the stories of those who became successful against all odds. The John Robins of the world who fought against everything to earn their place, because they were the anomaly among the billions who tried. No one talks about the average joe, who lost their lives to a mediocre dream, never set a record, never found fame and glory. But in this, the fictional character was as ordinary as a person could be, presenting their story, and told it with their own bleak ending. He was much like the protagonist, James Marseille. No, in many ways, he was James Marseille.
          If he were to be asked later what had prompted him to write, he might not have an answer. Maybe it started as his way of release. Jaehyun wasn’t one to freely admit that he wasn’t happy with his situation, but through James Marseille, through the words he had written as the character in his favourite book, it was easy. His innermost thoughts, some that he had not recognized himself, found their way onto the piece of paper. It wasn’t meant to be mailed out, no one was supposed to read it. All that Jaehyun had planned was to get it out of his system, and then it would be in the trash right after.
          And yet, there he was writing out the fictional mailing address for John Robin on the envelope.
To: John ROBIN,
134 Rue de Paradis,
75010, Paris
January 6th, 2006
Dear John Robin,
          What is it that sets you apart from everyone else who fell short of success?
          You and I are the same person; childhood and education identical. We both started at the same place and yet, you have reached further levels than I knew was possible. The only conclusion that my thoughts produce is that your success can only be credited to luck. Maybe you were at the right place, at the right time. Opportunity came to you because the circumstances lined up perfectly for you to advance. But then, to reduce all your efforts in fighting against all the odds down to the word ‘luck’ also seems unfair.
          If that is the case, what is it really that sets you apart from everyone else?
          Maybe we are not the same, maybe I am not enough.
James Marseille
          A couple of letters followed the first one. Jaehyun had found it therapeutic, as if he was living his own life out loud. January and February passed so quickly that it felt as if it was in the span of a week. It’s difficult to remember what had happened during the time, as days dissolved into one another.
          ‘Korean Railroad Workers’ Union Walk-Out; Four Day Strike Causes Major Delays’ Jaehyun was three hours late on Friday, March 3rd, 2006. He was told to arrive two hours early to hand in his report, and instead, he handed in a half-assed report ten minutes prior to the newspaper’s final edit. The coaching that he had gotten from the manager that day was almost a spiritual experience. The brutally colourful choices of words that were thrown at him during that meeting was enough to send him back to his desk dumbfounded. Suffice to say, his article was not printed that day.
          Jaehyun let out a frustrated sigh, back hunched over as he rested his arms on his desk. The plan was to get something on his resume solid enough to get himself a real job, but here he was still at the same dead-end yellow journalism career. Normally any good writer would want to get recognition for their work, but right at this point, he was more upset about him being stuck in this job for a year and a half rather than the fact that his article didn’t make the final cut. Jaehyun straightened up, and as if it was second nature, he was soon grabbing a pen and paper to write.
March 3rd 2006
Dear John Robin,
          This is the fourth letter that I’m writing to what I can only presume is the abyss. I keep wondering what happened to the letters that I had previously sent. It has been 2 months since the first mail, and I was expecting it to be returned unopened… but nothing? I can only assume that it is lost, floating around somewhere in Paris searching for an owner. Or maybe it ended up in the hands of a postal worker to whom this has been a source of entertainment. Oddly, I am starting to hope that it’s the latter.
         You see, all writers have their professional work and then what they write just for themselves. These letters are mine. Ironically enough, the ‘professional’ work that I do, is what I’d hope no one reads. The sensationalist conservative propaganda that I have to write on a daily basis is solely to either entertain or terrify old businessmen. These letters, at the very least, they’re honest.
          I’m going to imagine that there is a silent reader to these letters that I sent, you wouldn’t be able to write back to deny it could you?
James Marseille
          Jaehyun took the long way back home that day, stopping by the post office to drop off the latest letter that he had written. The feeling that he had each time that he sent the letter was unlike anything he had experienced before. Another couple of weeks passed, it would be a lie if he had said that he didn’t think of sending another letter. But even Jaehyun could admit that it was starting to get a little pathetic. It wasn’t as if he had no friends, he had one living with him who would be more than willing to listen, and yet there he was, writing to the unknown.
          “Today is April 2nd 9:45 am, Saemangeum Seawall has finished construction and is said to open to the public by the end of the month.” The female voice on the radio continued to speak as he made his breakfast.
          “Hey, do you know who used to live here before us?” The words were a mix of accented English and Korean. It was Yuta, his roommate. The man had come to Korea a year ago and it was amazing how quickly he had learned the language. In no way was he fluent, but it was more than enough for them to communicate between English, Korean, and the odd Japanese word Yuta taught him. Jaehyun’s attention shifted from his breakfast to his roommate.
          “I think it was a Baekhyun something? Why?”
          “There’s this mail that we got a couple of days ago, I talked to some of the people next door in case they got the apartment number wrong… but no one knows a James Marseille or a John Robins from Paris. Should I put it back so it returns it to the sender?”
          “NO-” So now, Jaehyun was all ears. He had almost forgotten about the eggs on the stove- almost, because he quickly turns it off and sets the pan aside. Something else was suddenly of greater priority than his breakfast. Yuta looked confused, maybe that was a bit too much of a reaction. “I mean…” Jaehyun wipes his hands on his apron, “don’t do that… um.” He was not about to tell Yuta that the letter was for him and that he was James Marseille, but he needed an excuse to have it. “You know what, I’ll just take that, yeah.” Yes, nailed it. He grabbed the piece of mail from the man’s hands before folding it and putting it in his back pocket.
          They stared at each other for a moment, Yuta looking at him as if waiting for an explanation but all that he had received before Jaehyun made his way out of the apartment was, “Okay… well, Bye.”
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There's a book called the The Hour Past Midnight in this fic. This has nothing to do with the book that actually is published. Please don't misunderstand and associate my writing to the respectable work that the author has done. That would be a complete and utter disservice to the author. ;O;


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1004 streak #1
I read the summary of The Lunch Box.
Did Jaehyun, by any chance, see Johnny in their supposedly meeting place? Did he feel cold feet and left without meeting Johnny?
I'm so curious as to what is in Jaehyun's letter now that brought a smile to Johnny!
Please don't take a year to update.
1004 streak #2
Chapter 8: I was really surprised to see your update. Oh dear! They didn't meet at all.
What's happening now?
Jaehyun got scared and stood him up?
Thank you so much for the update.
1004 streak #3
Chapter 7: I'm so happy you're back.
I'm glad that Jaehyun is ready to meet Johnny after so many years of correspondence. He probably has to thank Hendery for helping him reach that decision. Perhaps, he feels that that is the relevant action to take now.
Thank you so much for the update.
MeinAltire #4
Chapter 6: Their letters is nice to read...
It must be interesting to have a pen pal on these days.
Great update :)
Chapter 6: I feel this fic so well written, so smart and clever.
1004 streak #6
Chapter 6: I really love the exchange of letters. It seems to me that they are skirting the issue of their relationship. Or was it just Jaehyun who is trying to ignore the "issue".
Johnny has always been straight forward with his thoughts and actions even to explain why it is only now that he gave Jaehyun the book and the white rose.
I love their discussion on birthdays coinciding with holidays like Christmas and New Year.
Thank you so much for the update.
Chapter 5: Definitely worth my time. Loved every bit of it. Waiting for more
1004 streak #8
Chapter 5: I'm so glad that you updated.
It seems that Jaehyun didn't get the confession. He is even wondering about Johnny mentioning about him being set up with a co-worker. Is he annoyed?
Johnny kept referring to friends to lovers in Friends. Is Johnny alluding to the kind of relationship he wants with Jaehyun? Is that why he addressed Jaehyun as friend toward the end of the letter? Or, did he think he was friendzoned by Jaehyun?
Chapter 4: I bet Johnny staring at Jeahyun's photos for a long time and suddenly he's writing another letter to Jaehyun... His confession.....!!!!!

Awwwwwww...... Kudo's to Yuta for taking the gorgeous pictures of Jaehyun....

1004 streak #10
Chapter 4: Oh dear!
Johnny has fallen for him. How would Jaehyun react?
Thank you so much for the update.