Chapter 11

EXILE

It’s late afternoon by the time Jinyoung arrived at Jaebeom’s office. He entered Jaebeom’s cabin without a knock and found his cousin at his desk gazing at the city’s skyline. Jinyoung has been seeing Jaebeom’s faraway looks since he returned from Boston. He isn’t sure what is bothering his cousin. He attempted to address Jaebeom regarding his current state of being however he met with either utter silence or annoyed looks. His cousin had the tendency to lock everything down till the lid on his emotions blew wide open.

“Jaebeom-ah, I and Jackson were trying to reach you, why were you not answering the calls?” Jinyoung addressed.

“My phone is on silent mode,” is the only reply Jaebeom gave even without looking at Jinyoung.

“Seunie is trying to reach you to share time and location for tonight’s get together,” Jinyoung stated, making himself comfortable in the chair opposite Jaebeom.

“Are you even listening to me?” Jinyoung asked with annoyance when he didn’t receive any response from his cousin.

“I will talk to Jackson,” Jaebeom stated while standing up for his seat and walking towards the door, leaving Jinyoung behind.

Jinyoung sighed, looking at Jaebeom’s retreating figure. It has been like this for a while now, Jaebeom escaping Jinyoung before he could question Jaebeom what he is distracted about. He decided to call Jackson and give him a heads up that Jaebeom might not show up tonight.

“Did you talk to Jaebeom?” is the opening sentence from Jackson when answered Jinyoung’s call.

“I saw him but couldn’t get the message across, he left the office as soon as I started talking to him. I have a feeling he might not show up tonight,” Jinyoung exclaimed.

“I expected this, I will meet him in few hours and drag him to the venue tonight. Just let me know where he will be in the next 3 hours,” Jackson stated.

“Will do that, also I have some work that I need to attend to so I will meet you at the club tonight,” Jinyoung stated.

“Ya, sure will see you soon.” Jackson added before disconnecting the call.

It’s been few months since all the three hung out, Jinyoung can only hope that his cousin won’t ditch them in the last minute. However, he knew Jackson will get the job done either by whining or hogging Jaebeom’s personal space till he agrees. Jackson can be very persistent when he wants to, maybe Jackson can try to make Jaebeom talk about what is bothering him.

Jackson didn’t anticipate that the negotiations with the supplier would go for this long, it seems the supplier wanted a bigger percentage of the profit margin that he agreed to during the initial deal. It took a lot of going back and forth between his team and the supplier’s team to come to terms where both parties are satisfied. He is running late; he is supposed to drive to Jaebeom’s pent house pick him up and drive them to the bar. His cousin Henry will be disappointed if they didn’t make it to his performance.

“Hey Nyoungie,”

“Hey, is Jaebeom giving you a hard time?” Jinyoung enquired, answering the call.

“Not yet, I am running late I am yet to drive to Jaebeom’s place and drag his out, I tried calling Henry and Namjoon both of them are not answering the call. Can you go ahead to the bar and let Henry know I am running late and if possible, ask him if he could delay his group’s performance by an hour? I am sure I will be there with Jaebeom by 11 PM,” Jackson assured.

“Jackie, don’t tell me I will end up alone in the bar with your crazy cousin,” Jinyoung grumbled.

“Hey, you won’t be alone, there will be a ton of people in the bar. Anyway, I’ll be there with Jaebeom, just talk to Henry for me, you can find him in the dressing behind the stage,” Jackson promised.

Jackson arriving at Jaebeom’s flat rang the doorbell. He sat tight for few moments and understanding that Jaebeom probably won’t open the door; he punched in the pass code for entry, which he got from Jinyoung and let himself in. At the point when he strolled into the living room, he saw Jaebeom lying on the carpeted floor in front of his flat screen TV with earphones on. He went and stood in front of Jaebeom to announce his presence.

“What the …!!! How did you get in?” a startled Jaebeom asked Jackson, who is staring at him without saying a word.

“Nyoungie, gave me the pass code, I let myself in as you were not answering the doorbell or my calls,” Jackson stated with a shrug.

“Get ready we are going out for dinner; I am not moving from this spot without you. You can mope all you need however you are accompanying me.” Jackson stated determined.

“I am not in the mood, Jack, leave me alone.” Jaebeom sulked, hoping Jackson would leave him alone.

“I want to be an understanding friend, but this has gone far too long and I am here to drag your aloof out of this place whether or not you like it. I am ready to hear whatever is troubling you, but it looks like you don’t want to talk about it. So, I will not force you to open up, however I am not letting you be alone tonight. It’s been a long time since 3 of us hung out together. You better get ready and get going.” Jackson stated firmly, leaving no room for argument.

“Fine, I will come. Try not to gripe on the off chance that I am not merry enough for your disposition.” Jaebeom stated with annoyance, leaving for his bedroom to get changed.

Jinyoung headed to Itaewon where the underground bar is located. It’s been a couple of years since he visited this part of the town. It appeared a lot different from what he remembered. He could see a lot of foreigners in the area. It is well known that a lot of expats community lives in this part of the city. It looked vibrant and engaging. The bar he is looking for named Itaewon Class was located towards the end of a narrow alley filled with cafes and restaurants. The atmosphere in the bar is more relaxed it reminded him of the pubs young people frequent in Britain. He started looking around for Henry, unable to find him. He enquired the staff if they could direct him to Henry.

“Am I seeing right? Is it really the Great Park Jinyoung gracing this modest bar?” a voice expressed with mockery and amusement.

Jinyoung turned around to see the source of this mockery and is surprised to find Kim Seok Jin scrutinizing him.

“Are you lost, Mr. Park? Or then again living abroad benefited you and disposed of the stick that was up your snooty arse? Seokjin asked.

“It’s good to see you too, Jin. Aren’t you classy for this setting? Jinyoung said with a smirk.

“I am too classy for a tragic excuse like you, not so much for this place.”

“Good to know nothing changed even after a decade,” Jinyoung stated with a warm smile. It’s been a decade since he saw Jin. Their history together was not a pleasant one, at least for Jin. No wonder he isn’t pleased to see him here. Jin is kind hearted, beautiful, intelligent, funny and came from an affluent family. Seokjin is a keeper. Unfortunately, that was not the case a decade ago when Jinyoung dumped Seokjin like a blistering potato after their summer romance. They might be young for a serious relationship a decade ago, but Jinyoung didn’t have to blatantly cheat on Jin to break his heart. Does he lament doing that? May be a bit. Does he still find Seok Jin still charming? He would be a liar in the event that he said no. Now that his short summer romance is standing right in front of him looking enchanting, is he going to pursue his ex flame again? Probably not, Jin is sufficiently astute to show Jinyoung his place on the off chance that he tries something.

“So how is life?” Jinyoung enquired.

“Life is incredible, you not being part of it truly makes a difference.”

“Why do I feel that there is a note of sarcasm when you speak to me?” Jinyoung asked, even though he knew why he is being subjected to this mockery.

“A note? More like a symphony! Don’t expect any less from me. I always pay back what they deserve with generosity. Any how do everyone a favour and make yourself sparse.” With that, Seokjin disappeared into the background.

This is not what I was expecting tonight, Seokjin can be as scary as he can be sweet, Jinyoung thought to himself. He needs to find Henry and relay the message before it’s too late. He enquired with a waitress about the dressing room for the performers and headed in that direction, hoping to find Henry.

Jinyoung found Henry talking to someone. As he walked towards them, Henry recognized Jinyoung and is delighted to see him. He leaped on the Jinyoung to give him a bear hug. The energy and the positive attitude is a common thing for the Henry and his cousin Jackson. After the initial greetings, Henry acquainted Jinyoung with Namjoon. In Henry’s words Namjoon is the underground scene superstar who will take this world by storm one day, and that day is not excessively far. Namjoon seemed to be a little bashful and humble, shrugged it off with a laugh.

Jinyoung informed, Jackson is running a little late due to a meeting he had with the suppliers and he is on his way with Jaebeom. Jinyoung asked if it is possible for them to move the band’s performance to an hour later. Henry expressed that the whole night plan is running somewhat late as they had some technical issues with the bar’s sound system, so different entertainers are as yet sitting tight for their turn and it would be a decent hour and half when it’s their chance to perform.

Their conversation is hindered by somebody searching out for Henry and Namjoon. As Namjoon pardoned himself Henry inquired whether Jinyoung might want to wait in the dressing room till Jackson and Jaebeom arrives at the scene. Jinyoung isn’t sure whether to go in as there would be entertainers who might dress or rehearsing, they may not like an outsider intruding their space.

Seeing Jinyoung’s hesitance, Henry informed it is mostly his band mates and friends in there and he can introduce himself.

Jinyoung choose to return to the bar and get himself a beverage and trust that his companions will show up.

As he is walking to the bar, he glanced at the stage where few performers are testing their instruments. Something or rather someone grabbed his attention. This person looked awfully familiar to the person Jinyoung had on his mind since his visit to Bhutan. The person in his line of vision looks strikingly similar except for the fact that he has full grown hair on his head, he is dressed casually and is in Korea.

Jinyoung couldn’t believe what he is seeing. He questioned if it’s his mind tricking him by playing out his fantasies or could it be a random person who looks scarily similar! There seemed to be no logical explanation for a to be ordained monk from a faraway kingdom to appear in an underground bar in Korea in casual clothing.

He wanted to approach the guy to confirm what he is seeing is in fact real and him not hallucinating. The said guy seemed to check the piano while in conversation with one of the performers. Jinyoung is about to walk towards the stage when he heard someone calling for Yien.

Jinyoung’s mind is in overdrive the moment he heard the name. He turned his head to the source of the voice only to find Seokjin calling Yien’s name out and the said doppelganger turned to Seokjin and signalled him something. Jinyoung froze for a moment, realising it is in fact Yien, to be ordained monk he met in Bhutan who seemed to take an awful lot of Jinyoung’s head space for a while. How on earth does he know Seokjin of all people, it is very unlikely they would have met in a monastery.

What in heaven’s name is going on? Is it a day of “Surprise you wouldn’t never expect to see me here, but here I am.”? First it was Seokjin, the last person he would have expected to see in an unlikely place, then the night got considerably stranger when Yien jumped out of the blue and to top everything Seokjin knew Yien!!!!!

To say Jinyoung is curious to know what’s happening with Yien is an understatement. He is interested in why Yien is here and what befallen his arrangements of turning into a monk. The last time they had a discussion, it appeared to be pretty obvious that Yien was en route to a life of celibacy. What changed?

Jinyoung for quiet a while envisioned what Yien would look like in casual clothes and with hair on his head. Whatever picture he came up of Yien in his head did not do any justice to what is in front of his eyes now. As he glanced around there were quiet a few people staring at Yien, he couldn’t blame them. Yien had such graceful, effortless looks and an otherworldly aura.

When Jinyoung finds someone appealing his characteristic intuition is to flirt with that person, but when the said person is to be an ordained monk, he didn’t know how to deal with the given scenario and he turned into a yank and belittled Yien to shroud his attraction towards him. 

Now that he saw Yien in casual clothing and not in monk’s robes, can he not feel abnormal fantasizing about him? Does this mean he can hit on him without being judged now that the setting is different? More than anything is Yien into men? He practised celibacy all his life, so would he even know whether he prefers men or women?

His thoughts came to a halt when his eyes met Seokjin among the crowd. His first instinct is to walk away from the line of sight of his ex boyfriend. It is terrible enough that he was an to Yien when they met, to top it if Seokjin is around when he reintroduces himself to Yien it will be a colossal disaster. He is sure Seokjin has nothing pleasant to say about him to Yien. Approaching Yien in this situation doesn’t favour his cause. Seeing Yien is friends with Seokjin, he wonders if he will ever get a chance with Yien.

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