I sat in the back of their car in silence, blocking out the obscene, unfamiliar giggles that escaped my mother's mouth. The deep, rumbling laughter of Park Taekyung, my "new stepfather," continually infiltrated the bubble of quiet I attempted to keep wrapped around myself. The harder I tried to grow deaf to their conversation, the more it was able to get through to my unwilling ears.
"And then...and then he said..." He went on and on, rambling on about some client of his from wherever the hell he worked and laughing hard enough to make tears run down his face.
"And what did you say then?" I tried not to glower at the woman who I called my mother, though she neither acted like nor resembled my previous conception of who my mother really was; who I remembered her as - sweet, lovable, modest, soft-spoken. Now, because of him, she was the polar opposite.
I let my eyes roam freely, scanning the small shops and markets that lined the streets of Seoul. I rolled down the window and let the cool breeze wash over me, invigorating my dulled senses and cleansing my mind of its present jumble of worries and distractions.
Endless rows of condos began to emerge, lined up uniformly on either side of the road. My stomach gave a lurch as my gaze fell upon an old, run-down shack that existed towards the end of the stretch of shops. No one but me would have been able to recognize what little of my previous home remained, hidden from the view of society. I had to hold myself back from telling them to stop the car so I could jump out and run to the home I had left behind. I tried not to let my emotions run wild as we passed the area where my old home was barely visible, almost hiding itself from the judgmental views of the surrounding community. I almost wanted to turn to my mother and say, "Not only have you turned into a completely different person, but now I'm not even going back home to the home I remembered."
The condos that continued on down the road seemed to merge together, my eyes glazing over as I rolled up the window. It was as if the memories that had waited for me in that house had sensed my presence and followed our car down the street. The window of the car served as a barrier, protecting me from the painful regrets that would sooner or later end up consuming me.
"Here we are," Taekyung said cheerfully, turning into a small, square parking lot located outside one of the many identical buildings that lined the east side of the street. I glared at the back of his oversized, greasy head. His hair looked almost wet, unflatteringly illuminated by the shine of the sun, which continued to hang adamantly in the sky. Greasy was now my private nickname for him. As if I would call him "Dad" or even "Taekyung." He would never replace Dad. Not in a million years. I may be forced to accept him and accept his relationship with my mother, but there was no way in hell I was going to start calling him "Dad," a title only one particular, deceased person deserved.
I opened the door of the car as quickly as I could, sighing in exaggerated relief as the bottom of my sneakers made contact with the solid concrete of the lot. I craned my neck to look up at the condo, which towered over us, reminding me vaguely of the dorms back at Incheon Academy. Greasy appeared next to me, then, following my gaze. He cleared his throat gruffly, forcing me to acknowledge his presence.
"We're on the top floor," he announced. I nodded in response. Did he take pride in the fact that he lived on the highest floor? Had he deluded himself into thinking I would actually care? I felt myself smile, and I turned my head away to hide it from him. As much as I wished I could punch him in the , Greasy was now married to my mom, and I didn't want to give him any future excuses for kicking me out of their house.
"Come on, Jongin, let's go up. Don't you want to meet Chanyeol?" My mother's firm grasp wrapped around my arm, dragging me towards the front entrance to the building. I couldn't feel my feet. They moved on their own, following her lead. She towed my lifeless body along, pulling me into the lobby of the building and towards the double-duty elevators.
No. I don't want to meet anyone. I want to spend time with you. I haven't seen you in two years and I come back to where you've found yourself a new family. You really think I'd be in the mood meet anybody after introducing me to your husband replacement? That's funny, Ma. Your sense of humor has definitely improved if nothing else has.
The three of us boarded the already open elevator. I pushed myself against the back wall of the enclosed space as the doors closed with a soft ding. The interior of the elevator smelled of old people and sweat. I wrinkled my nose, ignoring the lurch of my stomach as the elevator began to rise at a frightening speed.
"Are you hungry, Jongin? Do you want me to make you anything?" Her voice was hopeful. I wanted so badly to embrace her; tell her that yes, I did want to eat her food; tell her how much I missed her. Due to the presence of Greasy, however, I merely shook my head and turned away, glaring at the bottom corner of the elevator.
"We should let him sleep. I'm sure he's tired." His suggestion was met with a small chirp of agreement from my mom.
Not so tired that I couldn't still kick your , you tard, I thought to myself. Leave my mom alone.
The awkward tension that flooded the atmosphere was obviously making them uncomfortable. I, however, felt at ease for the first time since parting with Luhan. We rode the rest of the way up until another, louder ding broke the silence that threatened to overcome our trio. As the doors opened to reveal a narrow, carpeted hallway, I hung back, allowing Greasy to exit the elevator before me.
I stepped out, putting a hand on my mother's shoulder. I didn't meet her eyes when she looked up, but I hoped that my unsaid feelings would be expressed in that slight, subtle action. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small smile flit its way across her face. A glimmer of hope revealed itself in the depths of my heart. Maybe she hadn't changed all that much, after all.
My eyes focused on the numbers that were inlaid in the mahogany doors we passed. Their clean, metal surfaces shone brightly in the light of the hallway.
712, 714,716, 718...
"Seven-twenty," Greasy said heartily, his booming voice dying away in the deafening silence that followed. He brought out a thin, plastic card from within his suit, flourishing the thing obnoxiously. The snort that escaped me was quickly turned into a strangled cough, due to the look my mother so graciously bestowed me. I raised my eyebrows questioningly at her disapproving expression as Greasy swiped the card through the slit that existed in the handle of the door and pushed it open. Then overwhelming smell of cigarettes met my nostrils, making them flare and burn.
More like welcome to hell. Home, my . Who do you think you are, kidding yourself and thinking I might actually consider this "home?"
"I'll show you your room, Jongin," my mom said, once again grabbing my arms and leading me down a hallway, its walls covered with pictures of her and Greasy - at a bowling alley, at a swimming pool, at their wedding. I tried not to gag as the smell of cigarettes grew stronger. The smell intensified and faded again as we passed by an open door, which revealed a huge wall of window, posing as the background to what looked like a small conference room. It was about as big as my dorm back at the academy.
"Chanyeol," my mom chirped, knocking at the very last door of the line. "Jongin is here. He's very excited to meet you!"
"What?" I hissed, my eyebrows curving down into a furious glare. "No, I'm not."
"You better act like it," she muttered back as the door flew open. I appraised the figure standing in the doorway, my eyes searching for any flaw they could possibly find.
The guy looked to be about my age. He was slightly shorter than me, his hunched figure adding nothing to his height. His thick, auburn hair swept to the left messily, almost completely covering his left eye. I wondered to myself if he did that on purpose to look impressive. So far, I was impressed by how absolutely boring he looked. His eyes held no sign of interest, reflecting his obvious feelings regarding my presence. Good. That was already something we had in common; the fact that neither of us wanted to be here.
His face was that of a child, his nose rounding out at the end, lips puckered in disinterest. Though his appearance was totally unspectacular, something sizzled in the air between us. I couldn't pinpoint the exact feeling that laced its way through the tension, but it wasn't the budding of a new friendship - I knew that much.
"I'll leave you two alone to get to know one another," Mom said happily, completely oblivious to the discomfort that seeped its way into our small congregation. She patted both of us on the arm and left, humming softly to herself.
"Come in, I guess," Chanyeol muttered, waving me lazily into his room. I obliged, walking slowly into his den. The walls were covered with posters of SM Entertainment bands, a majority of them showing Taemin, the youngest member of the five-member boy band, SHINee. Confusion made its way onto my face. Was this guy gay? Did he have some sort of weird for male idols?
Chanyeol spoke suddenly, his bored voice shocking me out of my thoughts. I turned to him, my eyes narrowing more and more with every syllable he uttered.
"So I hear you're auditioning for SM." He smirked when I looked up in surprise. "Oh, Kyungsoo told me. That's right, the one that loves beating up your boyfriend. Kyungsoo and I go way back. Anyway, I have some news for you. I'm not going to let you beat me out of a chance of being scouted by SM. There's no way Kyungsoo and I will let you and Lulu," his smirk widened as angry fire ignited within me, "into SM. Like you actually have what it takes. I don't know what kind of stunt you're trying to pull, but whatever you're trying to do is not going to work. You and your -welp mother better stay out of the way. Dad and I don't need anyone. You better do whatever you can to get both of you out of our house. Unless, of course, you want me to stick your head up your precious friend's . Keep out of the way, give up on the audition, and watch and learn from the best."
"And here's some news for you," I said, maintaining a poker face while getting myself ready for whatever my instincts had in store for me. "There's no way I'm going to let a like you beat me. It shouldn't even be an issue," I stepped forward, "since it's so completely obvious that you have nothing to show for yourself. Shut the up about you don't understand. You'll be the one crying like a when Luhan and I beat your asses."
With those last words, I let my middle finger propel itself up, leaving the rest of my fingers clenched tightly into my incomplete fist.
" you," I said as I wrenched open the door and walked out of the room, leaving Chanyeol standing there, almost shaking with rage, his face turning progressively redder by the second.
Great, I thought, almost laughing at the idiocy of that douche. I've made another enemy. Luhan, I swear, don't let Kyungsoo get the best of you. If you let yourself get beat up again, I'll cut your off.
jeez, chanyeol's a
i didn't know what kind of character
i wanted chanyeol to be, so i pretty much
just winged it...hope you're all not too
disappointed. please comment and leave
and suggestion and/or feedback!
love you all!<33