Yes, I am alive. How have you all been? How is the quarantine treating you? Down here in Peru it has been crazy with lots of rules but I hope that all of you, your families and loved ones are safe and healthy.
I'm back! With a new chapter and Ji Hoo's day, finally! I know some of you wrote me asking me 'Hey, it's quarantine time, aren't you writing?' Because, of course, I've seen a lot of writers seizing the day and updating more often. I'm sorry for not doing the same. I was lucky enough that I managed to keep my job and working at home with a toddler is very, very hard. I'm trying my best to keep up with my mommy duties, my job and my fanfiction hobby.
I really hope you enjoy this chapter, it's the longest so far! I was surprised by that!
Apologies beforehand because I have used some Chinese and music terminology that I really don't know if it's completely accurate but I tried my best. Suggestions and critics are well received!
Also, I updated the Pinterest board and there was a song I wasn't able to procure a video with English subtitles, I'm sorry. If you wish, you can look for the '4 men - Love is' English lyrics online so as to have a better idea of the song. It's very fitting for later on.
++As always, a huge virtual hug to JHsgf82 for being my editor and my friend. Love you!++
Previously on Part of Me: The girls enjoyed a girl's night and some secrets were shared between Ga Eul and Jan Di. At breakfast, Jun Pyo suggested going to the zoo and Ji Min is excited to go. Everyone is going to freshen up to meet at Ji Hoo's.
Of course, Jan Di and Ji Min were ready in less than 10 minutes.
Going down to meet the driver, she listened to her son talking endlessly about how he wanted to see a lion and a wolf. She didn't know if the zoo they were going to would have those two animals, but, being an F4 outing, she wouldn't be surprised if they had rented out the whole place.
They soon arrived at Ji Hoo's house. The driver opened the door for them as well as escorted Jan Di and Ji Min to the door.
Once inside, they went to the living room and waited.
"Omma, where's Hyung-nim?"
"I don't know, but he'll probably be here soon."
"Talk about the devil and he doth appear," a voice came from behind them. Ji Min ran to Ji Hoo, and the man quickly scooped him up and carried him as a traveling bag. Of course, the child enjoyed it immensely. "Are you hungry?" He looked at Jan Di.
"We just had breakfast" was the obvious answer, but Ji Hoo looked at her and raised a brow. "I can still eat a lot, but I'm okay right now, thanks." She rolled her eyes and smiled. He simply laughed and plopped down on his sofa with Ji Min.
"Hyung-nim, we're really going to the zoo, right?" He nodded. "When are the rest of the hyungs coming? I want to go!"
"I'm sure they'll be here soon."
"Where's Sun Mi-ssi?" Jan Di looked around.
"She needed to rest, so I told her to take a nap. I know the guys will probably take at least thirty more minutes."
"Oh! Ji Min, don't go yelling again. Okay, love? Sun Mi-ssi is sleeping." Her son did a signature of zipping his lips and throwing away the key.
"Can I read my picture book?" he asked. But Jan Di hadn't brought it, thinking it might be in the way more than anything, so Ji Hoo offered his huge TV with endless channels, and they looked for something Ji Min could watch.
Once he was enthralled by a movie, Ji Hoo sat in front of Jan Di.
"You put doors on your room."
"Yeah, but only a couple of years ago. I felt like changing the decor a bit, but as you can see, it hasn't changed much."
"Well, the new furniture looks great, but I see you kept the old couch. Can't help falling asleep there, even though this is your house and you have a bed to rest in?" He simply shrugged.
"So, Jan Di-ah...have you given any thought to how often you might be able to visit?"
"Um...not exactly. It's not easy to simply leave for the weekend. Taking into account how much it takes to get here, we might only get a day."
"Jun Pyo already said he would send whatever means of transportation needed for that, so rest assured. Is there something else?"
He hadn't changed the tone of his voice, but she knew what Ji Hoo was trying to do.
"There are times that I work on Saturdays, so I won't be able to come every weekend." At this, he said nothing. She knew he wouldn't interfere with her way of earning her meals for her and for her son.
"What is it that you do exactly?"
"I'm a cashier at a family diner. Although, I also use some of my skills for inventory, and that earns me a bonus from time to time."
"What if you could get a different job?"
"A better job, you mean?" Ji Hoo blinked in acquiescence. "That's the best job in the place."
A silence stretched for a minute or two before he spoke again.
"You know we are trying to bring you back, don't you?"
"Then, maybe this time, could you please try not to be your prideful/stubborn self?"
Jan Di fought, she really did, but she couldn't help but smile. "I am that I am."
"Do not try to use the scriptures here. We both know neither of us is very religious." Ji Hoo smirked, and she laughed.
They both lay the matter to rest, though they also knew it was a pause, not the end of it.
As Ji Hoo had said, the gang started to appear bit by bit. He went to wake Sun Mi up when Jae Kyung arrived and they were then only waiting for Yi Jung and Woo Bin.
While they shared last night's occurrences, without revealing, of course, the answers from the Truth or Dare game, they sipped on tea and some crackers that Sun Mi had prepared.
"Omma, I need to go to the bathroom." Ji Min was kind of jumping in place, the urgency clear in his face.
"You held it in until you couldn't take it anymore, Ji Min-ah! Come, come, come, come, quickly, go!"
They watched both of them disappear from sight and took advantage of it to ask Ji Hoo if he had had any success in convincing her to come back.
"It's going to be a long process, that much I can tell you."
"How long are we talking about here? We're estimating six months, and that's the worst case scenario," Jun Pyo offered.
"Do you remember how she was when we were in school?" Ji Hoo saw his friend sulking. "It's going to happen, but we need to tread carefully."
"But, if she doesn't want to come back, then what are you going to do? Force her?" They all turned to Sun Mi when she asked this. "I'm sorry, but she doesn't seem too keen on the idea of coming back."
"Short of kidnapping her, we'll try everything we can." That voice belonged to Woo Bin, who had come in at just the right moment.
"Jan Di is our friend. She has talent; she's smart, and with our help, she might even go to college to get a degree in whatever career she wants," Ji Hoo said to Woo Bin and Jun Pyo.
"We all know this, man. Don't worry. She'll get to live up to her potential."
"And you know any of us would do the same for you, Sun Mi, or Jae Kyung if you needed it." Jun Pyo put an arm around his girlfriend's shoulders.
Sun Mi observed the people in front of her, and even Jae Kyung seemed excited. She, on the other hand, was once again curious. Ji Hoo had told her they'd known Jan Di for three months at most, and here they were, almost 10 years later, plotting to bring her back, even if she didn't want to.
"Sorry for the delay!" The conversation subject returned with Ji Min in her arms, though she was panting a bit. "And sorry, Ji Hoo, but Ji Min wanted to eat something, so I grabbed some fruit from your kitchen."
"Eat anything you want, Ji Min-ah."
Jan Di asked her son to go back to his movie. He now held a plate with apple cut in square pieces. However, instead of going back to the TV, he went to sit next to Jae Kyung.
"Hi, noona. You look very pretty today."
"Ji Min-ah!" She hugged him. "Jan Di, you'll need an army when he grows up."
"Please, don't remind me that my son is growing leaps and bounds each time he breathes; it's very hard to hear."
"Did you find your way okay?" Sun Mi asked.
"Yes, thank you." Jan Di sat on the only available sofa and watched Ji Min interact with Jae Kyung with a smile on his face. Not that there weren't beautiful women in the village, but it was hard to maintain your beauty routine when you were working from daybreak to sunset to feed your family, and Jae Kyung 'smelled nice, dressed in pretty clothes, and always smiled,' according to her son. She suspected he might have a bit of a crush on her.
While Jan Di was thinking about her son, Sun Mi was thinking about Jan Di.
She felt she might be a little paranoid, but Jan Di had simply taken her son and strolled through the house without even an 'Oh, where's your bathroom?' She had also gone to the kitchen, gotten a plate, a knife and most likely a cutting board to prepare the apple for Ji Min. How did she know where to find all that?
Sun Mi tried to rationalize her thoughts. She knew they had been friends, and Ji Hoo's friends, aka F4, always came to his house and hung around because his was the only place parents and staff-free. So, she presumed that Jan Di might also have been part of that group.
Right, she must have spent time here, too, with the rest of the guys; thus, it's obvious she knows where to find things. Jae Kyung-unnie also knew where the bathroom, kitchen and library were before I came here.
Happy with this logical explanation and laughing at herself for feeling jealous when there was nothing to feel jealous about, she joined the conversation again.
Yi Jung arrived a few minutes later, followed by Ga Eul, and they all got into a luxury Mercedes Benz van. It was spacious enough for everyone, and they all enjoyed conversation, songs, and even a dance from Ji Min. He liked SHINee a lot, and Jan Di had managed to get some old discs of the group back on the island; she'd have to see if maybe she could get something more recent.
An hour later, they were all standing before the entrance of Seoul Grand Park. Jan Di was amazed at how big it looked, and she was sure that it must be bigger than what her mind had come up with.
"This is a zoo?" she asked out loud.
"Well, Seoul Grand Park's major attractions include Seoul Grand Park Zoo, the children's zoo, a rose garden, Seoulland Amusement Park, and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwancheon," Ji Hoo said.
"I'm not saying I'm not liking it-"
"But you wonder if we are able to do anything on a smaller scale."
"To be honest, yeah."
"Get used to it."
"I couldn't all those years ago."
"Because we roughly spent three months together. It'll be different once you live here."
"Awfully confident about that, aren't you?"
"Only because I know I have a guilt card to hold over you."
Jan Di was shocked at this Ji Hoo, more confident and adult, though in a good way. "Who are you and what have you done with my sunbae?"
Both of them laughed, and the rest of F4 bumped fists, knowing they were on a good track for bringing their friend back.
After reaching the entrance of the zoo, the group quickly agreed that the best course to take was the Tiger Road. This would allow Ji Min to see all the wild animals he hoped to: Tigers, cheetahs, zebras, pumas, crocodiles, and of course, the much anticipated King of the Jungle, the lion.
Even though Jan Di tried to avoid it, Ji Min was getting something new at almost every corner: a pair of binoculars, a hat, some candies, an ice cream, a shirt from the site, cotton candy...she didn't know if he was going to be able to eat it all, but his 'uncles' couldn't be denied. Still, she was having a great time watching her son having fun.
They went, first, for the giraffes and proceeded to the hippos, which were huge and slow, though the sign read that this was the world's deadliest large land mammal. That, alone, made the girls happy to be on the other side of the fence.
Jun Pyo told the group the lion would be right after the orangutans, so the group gathered to drink some water, get their cameras ready, and rest for a couple of minutes. The total view time along Tiger Road was approximately two hours, and they were about to reach the first animal. Ji Min, being a total trooper, had walked the whole time without complaint, but the guys could see he was starting to get tired. So, right before they reached the lion's space, Yi Jung hoisted Ji Min up and put him on Jun Pyo's shoulders.
"How's the view up there, Ji Min-ah?" Jae Kyung asked.
"It's amazing! I'm so tall! Look, Omma. I'm super tall."
"I can see that, love." Jan Di smiled at her son. She was about to ask Jun Pyo if he was okay with it when Yi Jung and Ji Hoo held her back.
"We'll take turns carrying him when he's tired, it's okay." Yi Jung said.
Seeing that there was no room for discussion, Jan Di agreed with a smile.
To say her son was excited to see the lions was an understatement, but the funny thing was, the felines were all sleeping away as if there was nothing more important than that. Obviously, this didn't deter Ji Min's excitement, and he roared out loud along with Woo Bin and Yi Jung. Jae Kyung told Sun Mi they should roar too, and to the surprise of all present, Ji Hoo included, his girlfriend did her best.
A lioness lazily lifted her head and looked at the group, only to lay right back down to nap, uninterested. But this was enough to make Ji Min satisfied with his visit.
"Let's go check the carnivore enclosure; there is a tiger there." Ji Min immediately agreed with Jun Pyo, and on the excursion went.
"I want kids, someday." Jae Kyung made the comment while walking with Jan Di, Ga Eul and Sun Mi, behind the guys. "Like, a bunch. Maybe five."
"Five! Wow, I admire you." Jan Di's eyebrows almost disappeared behind her fringe. With the makeover, it seemed as if she didn't have any, but it was now shorter and she was able to swipe it aside if needed with a bit of hair gel.
"Well, I'll start with one, and then I'll see."
"That sounds like a good plan."
"Is it difficult?" Jae Kyung had been wanting to ask because Ji Min really looked like a great kid and was very well behaved.
"Nothing can prepare you for motherhood. I think the only person who actually told me how awful things could get was my mother."
"Yes." Jan Di saw Jae Kyung was still looking at her, so she tried to construct the idea around something she might understand. "Imagine that your liberty gets taken away one day. You won't be able to see your friends, watch your TV shows, go to the movies, be tired, get sick, do-"
"Your child won't know or care that you are sick. They want mom all day, everyday. You're their safe port, their source of toys and food."
"I can attest to that," Ga Eul chimed in. "I've seen mothers leaving their kids at the daycare for most of the day because they were sick, but still, they had to pick them up and tend to them until bedtime, even though they felt like dying. And they can love the teachers all they want, but when they see 'Omma', they forget about everything else."
"Tell me about it." Jan Di continued. "You're signing up for a 24/7 job that offers no vacations, no sick days, and no pay. You'll lose sleep, and you'll worry about them every minute of their lives. That saying, 'It'll get better when he's older'? A lie. First you're scared they're going to stop breathing when they're newborns; then, it's about whether they're feeding enough, if his head will stay up while he crawls; if now that he walks, he won't bump into things; if now that he runs, he won't run into the street...When he's a teenager, I'll worry about how late he stays out and what type of girl will capture his heart, because I know I don't want him to go through heartache, but I also know that it's impossible to mature without it."
The group stayed quiet for a little bit, processing the information they had just gotten.
"Somehow, I feel like I should call my mom..." Jae Kyung was suddenly thinking about all the things she had done in the past to make her mother worry.
"I know the feeling. After I gave birth to Ji Min, I apologized to my mother for all the crappy things I might have done, times I stayed out without telling her or simply for disrespecting her. You don't know how it feels until you have a child of your own."
"Let us hope they don't do what we did, huh?" Ga Eul bumped shoulders with Jan Di, and they both laughed.
Sun Mi had been silent the whole time, but she knew what Jan Di was talking about. She, more than anyone, understood the pain and the worry she had made her parents go through.
At 15 years old, she had been offered a full-ride scholarship to a prestigious school in Italy. Her mother, of course, had been worried about it, but Sun Mi was supposed to stay in the dorms, had an older tutor to guide her, and wouldn't be allowed out of the school after her curfew. It might have seemed too strict, but she was only fifteen, so she said yes. She was simply excited to go and be alone for once. Sun Mi loved her parents, but she had always lived with the pressure of being a proper lady, to never dishonor the family's name, to be quiet, poised, educated. She was at the height of her teenage years, and to know she was going to be able to spread her wings made her accept the offer immediately.
The first six months were great. Sun Mi had made friends, went to a few parties, socialized with a different culture and fell in love with it. She was a good student, friend, and overall, a nice girl. Italian boys quickly fell into step with her in the hallways, trying to help her in a study session or asking her out to dinner, always saying they didn't believe she was fifteen, that she looked way more mature for her age. Sun Mi loved the praise and lost herself in it. The 'older' tutor was actually a girl just a couple of years ahead of her that loved a good party and wine. She took Sun Mi under her wing and took her to all the 'cool' places, so she could 'live a little', and the old story happened.
Girl meets older guy, guy tells her he loves her, girl believes it and falls into his bed, and guy suddenly gets amnesia and doesn't remember her.
Sun Mi cried so much; she had felt truly in love, but as soon as Luca had taken her virginity, he went to goad about it to his friends, and she passed through the worst embarrassment of her short life to date.
The older girls cheered her up, saying he was not worth it, that there were plenty fish in the sea, and that they'd introduce her to new guys. So, at her sixteenth birthday, after a video call with her parents, she let her friends doll her up: Clothes, makeup, perfume, shoes. That's when everything started to go wrong.
The first time she woke up next to a guy she didn't even remember meeting the previous night, she freaked out, and her friends laughed and congratulated her. 'We've all been through that'. 'It's a rite of passage.' 'You did good. He was hot.' If they did it, and thought it was fine, maybe it was. Korean culture was the uptight one; her parents didn't understand her need for freedom, and everything she'd ever learned before that had been wrong.
Drugs, sex, alcohol...you name it, she had tried it. Almost died a couple of times, too.
Her parents had realized something was wrong with Sun Mi and went to get her immediately, only to be horrified at the sight before them: Their young daughter, no longer in the school, sleeping on the floor of whatever house held the party the night before.
Being a minor, she had no choice but to follow them back to her country. Obviously, Sun Mi didn't make it easy on them. She cried, kicked, screamed, and insulted the two people who had gifted her life for trying to help her.
The recovery was slow, painful, and mind-blowing. It had been in the Rehab institution that she met Woo Bin for the first time. He had been there with Yi Jung, the latter was visiting his father for updates. Sun Mi saw him, liked him, and put the moves on him. No matter that she was in hospital garb, she could still rock it. Unmistakably, she failed. Woo Bin laughed at her advances and told her to 'grow up' and 'come back when you're a woman.' 'I'm not interested in brats,' he'd said.
She had been 17.
The drug rehab program took her nearly eight months to complete, but she would forever be grateful to the institution and to her parents.
Soon enough after her release, Sun Mi found out who Woo Bin was on the news. She regretted what she had done. Of course, Prince Song had women to spare; however, he had a kind heart and an honest streak that left her baffled. This was a fact she had come to know after meeting him again on a night the Heo family and the Song family went for dinner. Turned out the families went way back, but communication had been bleak the last few years. No doubt, because of her.
Woo Bin listened to her, never judged, and told her he was proud to meet someone so strong. He never told anyone about her time in the institution, not even Yi Jung. A couple of months after that dinner, she was introduced to the F4, and he'd simply said, 'She's Heo Sun Mi, a friend. Treat her well.'
Her life had done a 180°. Sun Mi had been dragged out of a hell pit to the light again. She was now a well-known young woman, a lady, down to earth, mature, polite, graceful and kind. She had good friends, an amazing boyfriend, and loving parents.
She still had mental voids about her time in Italy, and quite frankly, she would be happy if her brain could completely forget it; although, at the same time, she believed those memories were a good reminder of what she should never do again, and for her children, when she had them in the future.
And so, Jan Di's words were not foreign to her. Sun Mi's mother had been her rock, staying with her through pain, tears and sickness.
Jae Kyung knew a bit of her past with guys due to an unfortunate encounter with a previous fling. But, of course, her friend had been quick to defend her and not judge her, telling Sun Mi her past was her own, and the Sun Mi she saw before her was the one she loved.
She had told the truth to Ji Hoo as well; she hadn't wanted to lie to him, so with great shame, she revealed almost all of her past. Her boyfriend had been understanding, his words similar to those of Jae Kyung. Ji Hoo trusted her and cared for her, and he had said so that night, when he went to accept her confession. Sun Mi really thought she was the luckiest person in the world for having people so understanding of her.
She also admitted she admired Jan Di. In Italy, she had met lots of girls who were her age or a bit younger who had a baby or were pregnant, and not with their first child. Of course, in the circle she used to be in, the title of 'mother' couldn't be easily given to them, and having an addiction like she had had with drugs, made it all the more difficult. Remembering made tears come to her eyes sometimes, thinking of the innocence of the little lives brought into this world, only to be an afterthought.
But here was Geum Jan Di, a girl who was two years her senior with an eight-year-old boy who was sweet and well behaved. It couldn't have been easy, and she had heard that first night she met her, what F4 discussed, about wanting to bring her back and also find the father of Ji Min, to hold him accountable for leaving them behind.
F4 could be rough, immature, and sometimes narcissistic, but they loved hard and fiercely. She was glad to be part of the group, which, actually, was already reaching the next cage.
They had gone to see the Siberian tigers, which left everyone in the group in awe of the majestic beauty of the strong animal. There were two awake, playing with car tires as if they were mere toys. After snapping a few pictures and roaring again, they moved forward. Although now, the animals were much smaller. Sun Mi stopped to look at the fox; she saw him quickly running around, just enjoying the weather. Then she turned around to find Ji Hoo, and she saw him looking down into a different cage. When she came closer, she noticed they were otters.
She immediately smiled. They were swimming, and there were even a couple that seemed to be bathing together. About to ask Ji Hoo if he liked them as well, she saw him whirl around, and then he raised his voice. "Little Otter!" he called.
And Jan Di turned around.
"Omo! How is it that you still remember that?" She came up with a mock scolding expression on her face.
"Hey, you were the one who turned around." Ji Hoo said, tucking his hands in his pockets. "Check it out, there you are." He tilted his head to the cage.
Sun Mi saw Jan Di gush at the little animals with a joyful expression. She was actually dying to ask what this 'Little Otter' thing was about, but thought it best to wait. Thankfully, someone seemed to be as curious as her.
"What's with the name?" called Jun Pyo. He had left Ji Min on Yi Jung's shoulders this time.
"Inside joke," Ji Hoo and Jan Di replied at the same time. Jun Pyo made an unimpressed face and checked the cage as well.
Watching Ji Hoo move to the fox now, Sun Mi thought that asking wouldn't seem weird.
"I used to call Jan Di an otter."
Thank you Captain Obvious, she thought but reined in her temper. "How so?"
"Because she's small and cu-can build things out of nowhere. She's kinda crafty." Ji Hoo caught his tongue before he called Jan Di 'cute.' It was an inside joke between them, and he didn't want to reveal the memory of the first time he'd called her that.
They had been on their way home, sitting down in front of the lake she liked so much after a fight with her mother. She had been sulking and, quite possibly, about to cry, so Ji Hoo looked for anything to tell her to cheer her up, and he ended up saying she had probably been an otter in her past life. Jan Di got that confused look Ji Hoo loved so much, and so, he explained why: She was calm around water, an excellent swimmer, and also small and cute like the little mammals. This earned him a smile, the first real one she'd given him that afternoon. And the name stuck; she was an otter‒he added the 'little' just because she hated when he teased her about her height.
Sun Mi wasn't entirely convinced but let it go. Ji Hoo didn't seem to pay much attention to it, same as Jan Di, so maybe it really was an innocent joke. Resuming their path, the group went on to finish the Tiger trail.
"Ji Min-ah, are you sure you're feeling okay?" Her son had been coughing a bit after running around the zoo's playground.
"I'm okay, Omma. I just wanted some juice. My throat was dry."
"You're taking a warm bath and going straight to bed tonight."
"Is everything okay?" Ji Hoo approached Jan Di, who was crouched down to Ji Min's eye level.
"Yeah, he just ran a lot and needed something to drink."
Jan Di didn't want the guys to worry.
Truth was, she had taken Ji Min to the city because of a very nasty cold that wouldn't leave him, only to find out it was pneumonia. Good thing was, Ji Min quickly recovered after being administered the correct medicine and getting lots of rest. The day Ji Hoo found Ji Min, they were going for a check-up and then to finally enjoy a bit of the city before having to return the next day.
Jan Di was sure that if she told F4 the real diagnosis of her son, they would ship him off to Europe, to the best possible doctors, and that's why she kept quiet. Ji Min was well, and he'd had a blast the past few days. Although he coughed a bit, he now seemed to be alright again. She was just worrying too much.
"We could take him to a doctor if you want."
"It's okay, he's fine. If he shows any symptoms, or I think he's ill, I'll let you know immediately. That okay?" Ji Hoo nodded
"Tomorrow is my day, so we'll start at 11am. I think that'll allow you both some time to rest well. Should I pick you up?"
"Sure. Are the guys coming tomorrow?" She stood up and let Ji Min run towards Jun Pyo and Jae Kyung, the latter happy that Jan Di's son liked her so much.
"Probably yes, but later." Ji Hoo put his hands in his pockets and looked over, to where Ji Min was having fun with the guys. They went to join the group. "He's an amazing kid. I always knew you would make a great mother."
"Yeah. You took care of your brother as if he was your own; you mothered us back in college, and you have this caring side to you."
Jan Di felt warm inside and out at his words. Back home, she was one of the many young mothers on the island, and it was expected of her to take care of her son, but here in the city, her friends praised her for how well-behaved Ji Min was and what a great mother she was.
"Thank you, Ji Hoo-ah."
He just looked at her and smiled, and she did the same.
"Hey, you two, we're trying to decide where to go next, so come here." Yi Jung waved them over, and they both took a few steps more toward reaching their group.
"So, we were thinking karaoke."
"I don't know if I have the strength to go to karaoke. And I really hope you guys don't transform the room next door into a club." By their faces, Jan Di knew they would've.
"How about some normal games?" Ga Eul offered "Pictionary, charades, UNO…"
"I like that!" Jae Kyung was excited to try some new games. The night before she had had lots of fun with Jan Di and Ga Eul, and the games they came up with were something she'd never tried before, so she was in.
"I don't see why not. I've always wanted to see how the commoner side have fun when there's nothing else to do," Woo Bin said.
"I'll have you know, Prince Song, that we commoners know how to have the best fun." Ga Eul put her hands on her hips and cocked her head.
"That, I believe, Chu Ga Eul-ssi." He smirked, and Jan Di knew that even if Ga Eul said it had been one time, there was some weird banter going on that her friend hadn't told her about.
After sharing with everyone what they were planning, the group agreed, and they split up to rest, have a needed shower, and have some dinner.
Jan Di made good on her word and drew a very warm bath for Ji Min. She dried his hair with the hotel hairdryer and put him in a cozy new set of pajamas, courtesy of F4.
"I want to play too, Omma." Jan Di chuckled because even as Ji Min was saying that, he was yawning and rubbing his eyes. He was just minutes away from passing out on the huge, white bed.
"Well, what do you say we lie down for five minutes? Omma wants to rest, too, just a little bit. After five minutes we'll wake up and go next door to play with your uncles, okay?"
"But, if you fall asleep, then I'll let you rest."
"I'm not tired, Omma!"
Of course, after not even two minutes, Ji Min was softly snoring while hugging his puppy plush toy.
Jan Di seized the time to tidy up her things a little bit, though the hotel personnel really kept everything clean, even cleaning their clothes from the very same day.
After a very relaxing shower, she dressed in a pair of black leggings, a black tee, and a grey sweatshirt‒being comfortable was her goal.
After setting up the video baby monitor Jae Kyung had gotten her and verifying the phone app, she kissed her little man and went into the next room.
Most of the group was already there, and it had the feel of a teenage party: There were snacks all over the place, sodas, beverages, a huge, new green carpet on the floor, and a lot of bean bags, cushions and pillows around. No question about it, Jae Kyung had a hand in the decor.
"Care for a drink?" Yi Jung offered her a glass, and she accepted.
"Yeah, we don't want to say it aloud, but we're kinda excited to play some commoner games."
"You're in for a surprise, rich boy. We'll wipe the floor with you." They laughed and welcomed Jun Pyo and Woo Bin, who were the last to arrive.
Everyone took a bowl of their preferred snack or food and a glass, then sat down for the round of charades.
Two teams were going to fight it out in a charades competition. Winner had to win 3 out of 5. So far, Woo Bin's team-Yi Jung, Ga Eul and Jun Pyo-were winning, with 2 out of 5 in their favor. Jae Kyung's team-Ji Hoo, Sun Mi and Jan Di-wasn't having much luck. And now, it was Jan Di's turn.
"Okay, so we have...movies!" Ga Eul announced.
"I don't know that many movies," her friend whined.
"They're supposed to be the popular ones. Okay, ready? 3, 2, 1, begin!"
JD: "It's a man that dresses in black, a vigilante, deep voice…"
JD: "We come to life when nobody's watching and we love our boy."
JK: "Toy Story!"
JD: "My parents forgot me on Christmas."
SM: "Home Alone!"
They were rocking it; they were up to 10 movies and counting, but after those first 10, the movies were getting more and more difficult. Jan Di had declined 3 in 5 seconds. But then, she saw a name she recognized.
"I'm a blind girl that belongs to a secret female organization and knows martial arts." Silence. She thought Ji Hoo would remember. But when she tried to tell him, the opponents made her remember the rules. Jan Di could've declined it again, but she knew this one, so she wanted to get it right.
"Okay, how about this?" She thought the song would maybe stir his memory "Běi fāng yǒu jiā rén-"
"House of Flying Daggers!" Ji Hoo yelled.
The alarm sounded, signaling the end of their turn, but they had managed to guess 15 movies in their round, putting them 2 to 1.
Jan Di went to hug Ji Hoo and then Jae Kyung, but she was a bit surprised at her. "What is it?" Jan Di asked.
"You know Chinese."
"I do." She smiled and realized that, in that room, only Ji Hoo, Woo Bin and Ga Eul knew about it.
"How is it that you always have something that surprises us, even after all these years, Jan Di-ah? And how come you are not surprised?" Yi Jung asked Woo Bin.
"It was a Saturday, I think, that I found her in our lounge, and she was alone watching a drama. Said she had gone because she had nothing better to do. I realized it was a Chinese drama without subtitles."
"Oh, you loved that drama," she said. "Admit it. I bet you still know the intro song."
"Please, think of my reputation before saying things like that, Jan Di-ah."
"How do you know Chinese?" Jun Pyo asked.
"My maternal grandmother. She was the only grandparent I met, and she was half Korean, half Chinese. I loved her very much, she talked to me only in Chinese in the hopes I would learn it, and I did." She shrugged.
"It is very good. But how do you practice it?" Sun Mi went to stand next to Ji Hoo.
"My wài pó died when I was twelve, so I had lots of practice, and then just songs and the like. But I haven't had a practice partner in years."
"I learned," Ji Hoo told Jan Di.
"You did?" When Ji Hoo found out she had known the language, he had wanted to learn, too. Surprisingly, he knew English, French, and Italian but had never learned Chinese."
"Wǒ huāle jǐ nián shíjiān."
"Bù xiāngxìn nǐ." They both laughed, and actually, Woo Bin laughed, too.
"Well, that's enough of that. We still have to win this thing."
Unfortunately, they weren't able to win. But they still had fun.
The next game was Twister, and it was a joy witnessing Jun Pyo trying to escape from the flirty hands of his girlfriend while they were playing. Jan Di noticed he wasn't too comfortable with public displays of affection, but also that he was happy with Jae Kyung. Yi Jung was a different story; he was the one flirting with her when it was their turn, which she obviously dismissed.
"I can't believe you're the only one inmune to me."
"Get used to it; it'll start to happen more often as you get older." Jan Di winked.
Woo Bin and Sun Mi were definitely friends; you could see the banter, and Sun Mi dished as good as she got, and Prince Song had a good time.
When the game got down to Ga Eul and Ji Hoo, though, neither of them were relenting. Both of them were holding onto their weird and definitely-not-easy-to-hold poses.
"Ga Eul-ssi, you're starting to tremble."
"Funny you noticed after shaking like a leaf yourself for the past couple of minutes."
Those two were a weird combo; no one could have predicted they would be so competitive, but in the end, Ji Hoo won. Although, he admitted Ga Eul had been a very difficult opponent.
Everyone decided a 10-minute rest was necessary.
Now, according to elimination, Jun Pyo was to go against Jan Di, and Sun Mi would go against Ji Hoo.
"Let us hope the weight of your hair doesn't bring you down," Jan Di joked.
"Ha! You're just scared, laundry girl."
The battle was fierce, and Jun Pyo was throwing around loud exclamations about it not being fair when he got all the hard positions. Jan Di had been lucky, being able to squat nearly the entire time for an easy win.
As for Sun Mi and Ji Hoo, that took longer. She was a yoga expert, and he trained regularly. Ji Hoo got lucky, though, because Sun Mi got a cramp and couldn't go on.
After everyone made sure she was okay and she was given a warm towel for her calf, they resumed the final game.
Jan Di vs. Ji Hoo.
Neither was giving the other even an inch, and at one point, Jan Di ended up with both hands behind her and her legs extended, which wasn't an easy position. She was getting tired, but she was stubborn. Ji Hoo knew this. He was also tired, and quickly reaching his breaking point, but neither of them would willingly stop the game.
He looked at her, and after a few seconds, she understood what he was asking.
"Gun-ma-ri-gi," she said.
"Two out of three," he answered.
"What are you talking about?" Jun Pyo asked.
"Just give us a word, Jun Pyo-ah," his friends answered.
His friend looked perplexed, so Jan Di turned to Ga Eul. She chose 'Bamboo'.
They all were then witness to a spectacle. Each person on the Twister mat was saying words that started with the last syllable of the previous word.
Jan Di won the first round, but surprisingly, lost the second fairly quickly. She couldn't come up with a word.
"Chance, I haven't used my chance for help," Jan Di pleaded, but Ji Hoo wasn't having it.
"We voided that rule when you tried to get a dictionary. You got your five seconds. My win."
"Ugh, fine! Final word."
This final round was the hardest; they were both fast with it, and everyone was excitedly watching.
Ji Hoo mentioned the name of a mountain, and Jan Di called fault.
Ji Hoo had a blank look on his face; he felt his muscles tingling under his shirt, and his brain wasn't coming up with anything. Jan Di started the countdown from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
"I win!" She let herself fall on her back, and Ji Hoo broke his position from the mat. Everyone clapped and laughed at their friends, who looked like a pair of newborn calves.
"I don't think I can get up." Jan Di laughed, and Ji Hoo chuckled because, quite frankly, he couldn't either.
"Let's just stay down." Ji Hoo suggested.
"Let's," she agreed.
So, they both lay there on the floor without a care in the world, breathing hard, and complaining about their sore joints.
"Okay, Jan Di wins, let's go get something to drink and then come back for the corpses," Woo Bin said.
"Yah! If I wasn't so hurt, I would hurt you!" Jan Di tried to move her arm to catch Woo Bin's ankle but failed.
"Get your revenge later," Ji Hoo told her.
"You know it." He raised his fist, and Jan Di bumped hers to his, sealing the promise.
"Are you okay?" Sun Mi crouched down next to Ji Hoo with some water.
"Yeah, just tired as hell. All the women I faced off against today are tough." He raised his hand to brush some of her hair behind her ear and smiled. His girlfriend smiled back.
"Are you okay, Jan Di-ssi?" she then asked.
"Just peachy." Jan Di quickly clapped her hand over her mouth and blushed. How had she just said that?
Ji Hoo broke down in laughter, grabbing his belly and rolling to his side. Jan Di joined in after a few seconds, also laughing hard.
"Um...are you okay?" Sun Mi didn't know what was happening.
"Jan Di used to say that when she was very tired but didn't want to admit it." Of course, Ji Hoo knew why Jan Di had blushed. Such a simple statement had connotations that neither of them wanted to reveal to their group. Like the 'Otter' nickname, it was between them and in the past, and this particular inside remark should remain that way. His eyes settled on Jan Di, who seemed to silently thank him for covering for her.
"Oh, okay," Sun Mi said, though she really didn't understand why that should provoke such a reaction from both of them. "Do you want some help getting up?"
"Sure." Grabbing her hand, Ji Hoo hauled up, feeling much better.
He took her hand and started to walk off.
"What about Jan Di?"
"Rule Number One in the Geum Jan Di Survival Manual: Never offer her help if she hasn't asked, you'll just make her angry. She'll come in a minute."
"There is a manual?" Sun Mi was confused again.
Ji Hoo just chuckled. "She'll be here soon, let's go drink something?"
He smiled at her and led her to the table, and he poured her some beer, which she gladly accepted.
An hour passed, during which everyone had a great time. They played and ate and drank and basically chatted about nothing. It felt good.
Ji Hoo saw Jan Di sitting on the window sill, hugging her legs and looking at the city lights.
"Hey, you're not over there playing 'Never have I ever…'?" Yi Jung and Woo Bin were quickly getting inebriated with the game.
"I learned not to ever play with those two a long time ago, the hard way." He answered with a smile while sitting down on the opposite side of the pane. He had a bag with him. "This is for you."
"Really?" Jan Di took it; she was curious. "What is it?"
"Not from me, from Seo Hyun." The look on her face was funny. "Why are you so surprised? She liked you a lot."
"When did you see her?"
Ji Hoo thought about it for a bit. "Probably two years ago. I went to her wedding."
"She got married. He's a guy from her firm, a bit younger than her. Totally in love with each other."
"But…" Ji Hoo waited for her next question, but it never came. Jan Di simply frowned a bit but quickly shook her head and dug into the bag.
Inside was a red box, and when she opened it, she saw a pair of beautiful, elegant shoes. Definitely something she couldn't use back on the island.
"She told me you'd understand what it meant."
"'Wonderful shoes will take you to wonderful places,' that's what she told me that night at the party when she lent me the dress, shoes and makeup."
"I remember that night. Well, I take it you like them?"
"I love them, I just...I don't have anywhere to use these."
"You will, if you come back."
They looked at each other, measuring if either was going to relent.
She sighed. "I thought we had implicitly agreed to discuss this later."
"It was just an observation."
"Sure it was."
"Why don't you try them on?"
"They may not fit. After my pregnancy, lots of shoes didn't fit anymore, and I don't want to find out if it will be the same with these."
"I'm sure it won't."
She complied, because really, there was no way to say 'No' to an F4, even less to Yoon Ji Hoo.
Jan Di struggled a bit with the straps but finally got them on. Ji Hoo had almost crouched down to help her, but he thought that wouldn't look good, no matter the excuse or that Jan Di was a dear friend, so he stayed put. However, he was a bit smug when, as he had predicted, the shoes fit like a glove.
"Told you so."
"All hail Yoon Ji Hoo's wisdom." Jan Di said, but without any real sarcasm behind it. She stood up and took a couple of steps back and forth, admiring the golden shoes. The rhinestones made them shine every time she moved. Happy with her gift, she went back to the window and drew up her legs once more.
"I didn't think you'd remember the movie." Ji Hoo asked after a minute.
"Of course I would, I loved it. I even have the song on my playlist."
He simply smiled at that, and they both turned their faces to the window.
A few seconds later, Jan Di sang.
A rare beauty in the north.
She's the finest lady on earth.
Ji Hoo couldn't reach those high notes, so he lowered the register and accompanied her.
A glance from her, the whole city falls.
A second glance, leaves the whole nation in ruins.
They laughed a bit, remembering how the male character in the movie had pretended to be drunk while singing. But then, quickly, the laughter died as they looked at each other, remembering the last scene.
There exists no city or nation
that has been more cherished
than a beauty like this.
"Wau." Clapping, Yi Jung approached them. "It wasn't a fluke; you really do know Chinese. And you never told us you learned, Ji Hoo-ah."
"I told you, but you were too busy with some girl."
Yi Jung rolled his eyes, having no comeback for that.
"What movie is that?" Jae Kyung asked.
"House of Flying Daggers." Both Ji Hoo and Jan Di answered.
No one from the group had watched it, but then, they all agreed that they didn't watch movies too often, and when they did, it usually was Korean or ones popular in Hollywood.
Remembering the time, Jan Di thought it best to go back to get some rest. She went to stand up, and Jae Kyung and Ga Eul gushed over her shoes.
"Those are exquisite!"
"And look at the sparkle!"
"I quite frankly have no confidence in walking long distance in these. The last time I wore heels was six years ago." Jan Di nervously chuckled.
"We'll help you to your room." She thanked Jae Kyung for offering, and after saying goodnight, she went to her room.
While everyone started to gather their things to leave as soon as Ga Eul and Jae Kyung returned, Woo Bin took Ji Hoo to one side.
"Hey, man...so…You see,..."
"Are you okay?"
"Damn it, I usually don't get involved in anything, but I think I should tell you this. I know you really care about Jan Di, and even back then, when you had your weird agreement…, but maybe think a bit about Sun Mi? I mean, you should've seen her face when she saw the shoes you gave Jan Di."
Ji Hoo turned around, and clearly, his girlfriend was not in a good mood. She seemed to be somewhere between sad and angry.
"Thank you for telling me, but I didn't give her those shoes."
"Yeah, you did," Woo Bin stated in an obvious tone. "We all saw you."
"I was merely delivering a gift from Seo Hyun. And yes, I care about Jan Di, but I wouldn't blatantly disrespect Sun Mi like that."
Woo Bin saw that his friend wasn't lying, and according to the facts, his gesture had been completely innocent. It wasn't as if he had gone down on one knee and put the glass slipper on Cinderella's foot; still, he thought Ji Hoo could've picked a better moment, but being who he was and how weirdly his mind worked, he thought best to let it go.
"I'm sorry for jumping to conclusions, man."
"Not at all. I should thank you, actually. I probably wouldn't have noticed Sun Mi was upset. I'll talk to her."
"Thanks. You're my brother, but she's my friend, too…"
"I know, don't worry. We're good."
"I didn't buy her shoes," Ji Hoo said out loud after a minute inside the car on their way to her house.
Sun Mi hadn't been sulking, no. She had been simmering. When she saw her boyfriend give that bag to Jan Di she had just snapped inside.
Ji Hoo bought Sun Mi gifts, yes, but she would usually hint at what she would like because Ji Hoo told her it was best to give something she liked instead of something she would have to pretend to like.
Sun Mi, so far, had gotten perfume, a coat, a scarf, and of course, flowers and chocolates; also, Ji Hoo paid for all their outings. She had the money to pay as well, but he had insisted and she had let him. Ji Hoo was a gentleman; he opened doors and pulled out chairs, and she couldn't be happier; however, since Jan Di had appeared, her boyfriend seemed to have become someone else. Not in a bad sense, just...someone she didn't know.
When he repeated that he hadn't bought her the shoes, she felt like she had a right to ask.
"Then why did you give them to her?"
"It was a gift from Seo Hyun. I've been keeping them for years and just recalled yesterday."
"Are you telling me your ex-girlfriend gave you a gift for Jan Di? Why not give it herself?"
"Because it was when Jan Di was gone. I was at her wedding in Paris. I'm sorry I made you upset, but I really thought nothing of it."
At least that last statement made her feel better. "Were Seo Hyun and Jan Di close?"
Ji Hoo looked away, not only away from her, but he seemed to travel somewhere in memory. "Seo Hyun liked her very much after finding out we were sort of friends. She always thought I needed to expand my horizons beyond F4."
Sun Mi hesitated but thought that maybe this was her only chance at asking. "Why did you break up?" She watched her boyfriend get visibly uncomfortable, but she said nothing. She would wait for a full minute, and if he didn't answer, she'd let it go.
She was at the fiftieth second in her mind when Ji Hoo spoke. "I was too late. I thought it was all lost when Seo Hyun renounced her inheritance and left for Paris. At that point, I had never told her I loved her; I thought she knew. Even after confessing and knowing she felt the same, Seo Hyun was leaving and there was nothing I could do about it. I sulked for a while but then was encouraged by someone to follow after her. So I did. We spent close to a month in Paris, together, but it didn't work out."
"Why?" she asked again.
"There were...other people then. Seo Hyun was seeing a French diplomat, and although they were only friends at the time, she knew she could fall for him if she tried."
"So, she left you?"
"No. I left."
"But you remained friends."
"We didn't. It was a couple of months later, after I left that she asked me to come back to Paris to talk, for closure. We're still friends, just not as close as before. And that's okay."
Sun Mi was glad. Min Seo Hyun had managed to build a name for herself, even when her parents had been appalled at her audacity to simply leave everything behind. She sounded like a great woman who was also beautiful and very smart. She really thanked her stars that, for whatever reason, it hadn't worked between them.
"Do you feel better now?" Ji Hoo cautiously asked, hoping Sun Mi didn't have more questions for the night.
"Yes, I do. Thank you for talking to me."
Sun Mi took his hand, and he smiled. Then Ji Hoo turned around to look out the window while humming.
Yi Jung found what he had asked for on the desk in his office. Taking the photo albums and the envelope with the new pictures he had printed, he sat on his sofa and started to check the pages. There were a lot of pictures of F4 that made him smile, remembering how small, they had been and without a care in the world, much like Ji Min now.
And speaking of that, he had found the pictures he wanted. He would have to thank their mothers, who forced them to take portraits and full-body photo sessions throughout the years.
Taking out Ji Min's pictures after his makeover, he put the older picture next to it on the center table and looked closely.
He could be wrong, but it was really a very low chance. The resemblance was uncanny. Sure, the hair was different, so were the eyes; those were Jan Di's, but the rest was the same.
He then started calculating in his brain. Yi Jung hadn't been able to find a Geum Ji Min birth registration, so he couldn't corroborate the dates, but from what Jan Di had told him, Ji Min's conception had been after she left school, which of course, crushed his theory.
Still, Jan Di had left, disappeared, not one note, call, piece of mail; she hadn't even told Ga Eul where she was going, and two of his friends had taken the blow as if from a wrecking ball.
It was possible she was also lying about the birth date to cover for...whatever it was she wanted to cover.
Yi Jung was aware that this didn't concern him, but he also felt it was unfair that, if he was right, the father didn't know he had a son.
Sighing, he thought it best to talk to Woo Bin first the next day.
"It looks so new," Jan Di exclaimed while walking through the museum.
"We renewed it just last year. We have more music halls, a new Korean artists foyer. We also are the first ones to showcase So Yi Jung's artwork whenever he creates a new collection, so we've been having a lot of public coming in lately." Ji Hoo was walking with Jan Di and Ji Min; well, the little boy was running around and stopping to look at the art surrounding the place. His mother had already warned him not to touch anything, and he knew better, but still, he was pushing the limits by standing very, very close to a lot of pieces.
"Geum Ji Min, look with your hands and touch with your eyes."
"What's that about?" Ji Hoo asked.
"Just something I say so that he doesn't touch anything."
Ji Hoo found it weird. As a kid, he was never told not to touch; although, if he was being honest, there wasn't much that he couldn't touch. He was the sole male heir of the Yoon empire. Sometimes, he wondered if his parents had wanted another kid. Ji Hoo wouldn't have minded a brother or sister.
"Should we continue?" Ji Hoo called Ji Min, and the little boy grabbed his hand and his mother's, still in awe of another museum. The one Yi Jung had taken him to had been super fun, but this one, for some reason, held a completely different feeling.
Ji Hoo led them to Su-Am Concert Hall Number 3 where a huge surprise was waiting for Ji Min. When he opened the doors, Jan Di saw a group of musicians, who were simply waiting for instruction to begin their concert.
"This is the Korean Symphony Orchestra. I thought you might enjoy this, Ji Min-ah."
The little boy grabbed both of their hands so hard, and Jan Di was sure he was trying to contain his impulse to scream for joy. Ji Hoo led them to the best seats in the house, Jan Di seated to Ji Min's right and Ji Hoo to his left. Then, he nodded to the conductor.
"This is Dvorák, Cello Concerto in B minor," Ji Hoo whispered to Ji Min before the concerto started.
The music filled the hall, and Jan Di turned her face to catch Ji Hoo's eyes. She mouthed a heartfelt 'Thank you', to which he smiled.
At one point, she thought Ji Min was going to be bored; they had been sitting down for more than half an hour, but her little man was simply moving to the edge of his seat, excitedly listening to the orchestra and the cello soloist with stars in his eyes. Really, she didn't know if Ji Hoo had kept to himself the fact that Ji Min loved music. Every other F4 had done their best to entertain and keep her son happy, but she was sure the reason why Ji Hoo had been moving his day with them was so that he could gather this amazing orchestra only for Ji Min. Her son was happy, so she was delighted.
Once the orchestra was done and Ji Hoo confirmed to Ji Min it was okay to applaud-He didn't know it was rude to do so between movements-he rose to stand on the seat and clap as hard as he could while shouting 'Bravo!'.
Jan Di and Ji Hoo joined him, for it had been a sensational performance, of course. She wasn't all that surprised when Ji Hoo told her it was okay to meet the musicians, and once again, she could see just how much Ji Min was trying to hold back his enthusiasm and the urge to run to the stage.
Jan Di took pictures and videos with her phone; all the musicians were asked for an autograph, and the orchestra director assured Ji Min he would always be welcomed at any of their presentations. It was unavoidable that Ji Min started to cry then; so many times had he asked her if he was going to be able to see one of these performances live one day, and now he had, from the front row, and he'd even met the musicians he so admired from the other side of the TV screen. Ji Hoo was trying to calm him down, but Ji Min simply hugged onto Ji Hoo's leg, thanking him over and over again.
They had to wait a bit for Ji Min's tears to finally cease, but they had been ones of excitement and happiness. At last, some juice and snacks did the trick.
"There's something else I want to show you, Ji Min-ah," Ji Hoo told him while crouching in front of him.
"There's more!? Are we going to see them again?" He was already up and inching towards the door.
"No, not exactly. But I have a feeling you'll like this as much."
"Then, let's go, let's go!"
Jan Di followed them to Concert Hall Number 1 and saw that, at the center of the stage, there was a woman next to a piano, a cello, and a row of bows. Perhaps it was another soloist?
She went to sit again but noticed that Ji Hoo wasn't following her. Instead, he was taking Ji Min to the stage, where he introduced the woman as a musician and then directed Ji Min to the cello case.
"This is my gift to you, Ji Min. I know you'll learn quickly."
Jan Di's hand went to her mouth, and Ji Min was trying to say something but couldn't, so Ji Hoo explained what it was, though he really didn't need to. "This is a Cecilio Cello, ¼ size. I could've gotten a ⅛, but you're tall. It has a hand-carved, solid spruce top, highly-flamed, solid maple neck, back and sides. Also high-luster varnish finish and hand inlaid purfling. The fingerboard and pegs are ebony, the tailpiece as well, with a mother of pearl inlay and 4 nickel plated fine tuners. The strings are Larsen A, Thomastik-Infeld D, Spirocore Tungsten G and Thomastik-Infeld C."
Jan Di hadn't understood a word about what he just said, but from that explanation, she could tell this cello wasn't cheap, or just taken off a rack.
Ji Hoo observed Ji Min's face and heard him ask in a low voice if the cello was really his, and he was more than happy to confirm that it was. He had no way of knowing whether Ji Min would have the talent or not, but he had a feeling he would, so he had gone ahead and bought it.
Ji Min had bows to choose from, Marco Raposo, Jon Paul and Coda Bow. Ji Hoo had also gotten him a lightweight form-fitting, hard case with velvet interior, two bow holders, accessories pocket, padded neck restraint, bridge protector, three handles, adjustable shoulder straps, and hard plastic wheels. Also, a cello stand with 3 extra sets of high quality cello strings and Kaplan Premium rosin for his bow.
He was an F4, after all, and a musician. He would only choose the best.
"This lady here, she's a renowned cello professor. She'll give you a quick class today, so you can get to know the basics. But remember, nothing comes easy. It'll be hard work and long hours of study. You hear me?"
Ji Min only nodded as he was again trying to clean his tears. He had never had something so pretty all to himself. Yes, his mom gave him the best she could, and he would never even dream of complaining about that. But this, this was on another level in his small heart because a part of him knew that even if his mother wanted to, it would've been next to impossible to get an instrument such as this.
"Thank you so much, Ji Hoo Hyung-nim."
"Think nothing of it." Introducing the teacher and the student, Ji Hoo left the stage to join Jan Di.
"You…" was all she said before they hugged. She was deeply grateful for Ji Hoo's gestures for the day. He kinda shrugged it off, making Jan Di roll her eyes.
Ji Min was trying to quickly learn everything he could and Ji Hoo could see he had inherited a lot of his mother's impatience.
"Why did you leave me a note, Jan Di?" he asked out the blue.
She was surprised. Everyone had mentioned that she had just left, leaving no message behind. "I didn't think you found it."
Ji Hoo remembered coming home from the airport. He had wanted to freshen up and change before calling Jan Di, but when he got to his room, he found a folded paper on his nightstand.
'I'll always pray for your happiness. Love, Jan Di.' was written on it, and an awful feeling settled in his gut. He had pocketed it and immediately driven to Jan Di's house, only to find it empty.
"I did find it, but seeing that I was the only one who got one, not even Ga Eul… I just couldn't tell the guys about it; I would've had to explain too much."
"Yes, I know." Jan Di regretted it, greatly. She shouldn't have written that note, but she thought it would be adding salt to the wound to leave without a word. Not that she had said much, but in her state of mind at the time, she wasn't thinking clearly.
"Why did you leave?"
"My dad...You know how he had trouble with gambling? It was really bad. One night, he came home bleeding and barely able to walk. We had to leave. There was no way we could pay his debt."
"You could've told me."
"And you would've paid." She tore her eyes away from her son who was learning how to hold a bow. "That's never why I was your friend, any of the F4's friend. You guys did pretty shitty things, but you knew deep down you were in the wrong. You took me in for some reason and then wanted to cover me in gold or something. That's not who I am, you know this."
"Jan Di…" Ji Hoo turned in his seat, "you know I never tried to wound your pride. The universe might know why it's so freaking huge. But we would've reached a solution, an agreement. I would have gladly accepted a payment in installments for the rest of your life if you wanted, but the way you left…"
"I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry, but please, can we stop? I know I was wrong to leave you like that, to simply disappear and not keep in touch, but I thought I was doing what was best for my family! You were in France with Seo Hyun; Jun Pyo had to deal with his mother; I didn't want to use Woo Bin's influence, and I never had the same confidence in Yi Jung as with you. It was my mistake, I-" the tears finally fell from her eyes, "See? I didn't want to cry again. Ji Hoo, I've cried more than you can imagine, and I know you might never forgive me for the pain I caused you...But please, I'm begging you, please…!"
Her fervent whisper made Ji Hoo take her hand and squeeze. He wanted answers, and he deserved them, but he also knew that he wouldn't gain anything from it. No matter what she had to say, they couldn't go back in time.
"Listen to me." Jan Di raised her head to look at him. "You are never to do this again. I don't care if it sounds chauvinistic or whatever, but you will tell us or me the next time something like this happens. All we went through, Jan Di, it wasn't for nothing. If you need help you will call me and we will figure it out, together." When she opened her mouth to protest, Ji Hoo quickly cut her off. "Yes, you can and you will do it. Even if you decided not to come to the city, you have a new phone now. We all expect you to stay in touch regularly. Jae Kyung is probably the one that will visit the most," he added at the end, trying to alleviate the mood.
He knew he had succeeded when she chuckled amid tears. Offering her his handkerchief, Ji Hoo lay the matter to rest. Nothing good ever came from trying to live in the past; he knew that better than anyone else.
"Omma, look!" Jan Di was thankful that the lights were dim, so Ji Min didn't catch on to her tears. Her son quickly showed her how he played three consecutive notes, and Jan Di's smile was so big she could feel her cheeks hurting.
"That's just amazing, love!" Ji Min smiled and asked the teacher to please teach him some more.
"Jan Di-ah," Ji Hoo started, "if you don't move back to the city for good, you can still come sometimes with Ji Min. I'll make sure to schedule classes for him for whenever you have the time."
Jan Di nodded.
She would be lying to herself if she said she had never thought about coming back to the city. It had been difficult with Ji Min; the first month after he was born, Jan Di could remember a time when she had gone so far into the sea, she thought she would drown, and actually thought it would be best to do so. That had scared her. Never in her life had she had suicidal thoughts, and now that she was having them because of her own son, she was ashamed. Of course, it's not like Ji Min was planned, but that didn't mean she got to take the easy way out and abandon him. Jan Di had chosen her pregnancy; she could've terminated it, with her mother's blessing at that, but after seeing the sonogram, it was a fact that she wouldn't be able to forget for the rest of her life.
"You'll pay for everything if I come back with my family." Ji Hoo almost didn't hear her statement, having thought the conversation was over. "So, how will I pay you back for that?"
"We'll see. It's not like we'll let you flee while you owe us. You'll probably have to work for the rest of your life, which just so happens to be how long we'll remain friends. Doesn't sound so bad, does it?"
They were both smiling at his nonchalant tone.
"Give me some time?"
"Now, changing the subject, Ji Min seems to be doing very well. I'll give you some books, too, so he can study how to read scores. The theory is always boring but necessary."
"You don't have to worry about that with him. He loves anything related to music. I bet he'll devour those books in record time."
"How is your life there on the island, Jan Di?" That was something he had been curious about, and Jan Di obliged him. She told him about her job and boss, how the fishing village worked, and about the small town that was an hour away and the closest to civilization they had. She also told him how she had learned to make a lot of shadow shapes with her fingers to entertain Ji Min on nights when they lit up the candles. And how there was a cliff with the perfect height to practice diving. Of course, she had made sure, first, that there were no rocks or that it wasn't shallow, but lots of fishermen did it, so she decided to do it, too. She went on to tell him about the friends she had managed to make and the other mothers she gathered with in the small 'park' where the kids played. She, furthermore, told him about the people she liked and others she didn't.
Ji Hoo listened intently, trying to learn about this new Jan Di. The girl he had met when she was 18 was now a woman and a mother, but she still was her: Prideful, hardworking, impatient, and beautiful, inside and out.
Time went by fast, the hour and a half of Ji Min's class coming to an end in no time, much to the little boy's chagrin. Ji Hoo thanked the teacher and told Ji Min and Jan Di they should move to another hall as this one was going to be occupied soon. Before they left, though, Jan Di took a picture of Ji Min posing with his cello next to Ji Hoo. He, of course, returned the favor, and Ji Min also got to pose next to his mom. The only reason why he could be removed from the stage was that Ji Hoo had given Ji Min his word-and a man never goes back on his word-that he would take care of the cello.
Moving to the next concert hall, Jan Di noticed that the stage was bigger, definitely meant for an orchestra as there were chairs, stands, music sheets, a piano, and some timpani at the back. Also, there was a big screen that, as soon as they had taken their seats, it lit up.
"Ji Min, hello!" There was a brunette woman on the screen, waving at them, talking in English but with subtitles next to her. "I was contacted by Ji Hoo about you, and he tells me you are a great music aficionado."
"It's Alisa Weilerstein!" Her son all but screamed and grabbed onto the back of the seat next to him.
"He also tells me you enjoy how I play. I'm flattered to hear that. I started to play just a little before you, so I know you'll be better than me in no time. I hope you take it seriously and that you practice, practice, practice! That is the most important thing. If you come to one of my concertos, please find me backstage and we can have a talk. Goodbye!"
Jan Di knew about Alisa Weilerstein because of Ji Min. He had pointed out her name on those old radio shows where they play classical music, and once again, Jan Di was speechless at Ji Hoo's resourcefulness. She thought that had been all, but as soon as the message ended, another one came up.
"Omma! That's Mischa Maisky!" Ji Min was grabbing her arm so tight. This older gentleman was speaking in a language she didn't understand at all, but thanks to the subtitles, she knew what he was talking about. "I know you're a fan, and I hope to meet you at some point. Keep on practicing as that is the only way to improve."
And that was it.
There was a beat of silence, and then Ji Min's scream filled the hall.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!" He went to hug Ji Hoo who had the biggest smile on his face.
Jan Di thanked him as well; her son was stoked for all the surprises he'd gotten that day. And she was happy, for every one of her son's dreams had been fulfilled, all in a few hours this morning. Must be nice being an F4.
"Ji Min-ah, do you know that Ji Hoo can play the violin?" Jan Di thought to mention. "And he's great at it, too."
"I didn't know that! I want to hear you, Hyung-nim!"
"Well, I don't have my violin here," Ji Hoo replied. He hadn't wanted to bring attention to himself; after all, it was Ji Min's day.
"But there's a piano; you could play a bit there," Jan Di pressed.
"You just want to hear me play something," Ji Hoo countered.
"Yes, I do. And so does Ji Min. Come on, just something easy," she pleaded, and of course, he obliged.
All of them moved to the stage, and Ji Hoo sat Ji Min next to him on the stool. He went for something he knew Ji Min might have heard.
River Flows in You of Yiruma was heard throughout the hall, and Ji Min was happily watching Ji Hoo's fingers 'flow' over the keys while Jan Di stood next to him.
When he was done, Ji Min clapped and told him he was amazing, which made Ji Hoo smile again. He then asked if he could go around the stands on the stage and even though Jan Di was a little apprehensive about that, Ji Hoo allowed it.
He cocked his head to invite her to sit next to him.
"How long has it been since you last played?" he asked her.
"Probably since the last time we were here." There were no pianos back on the island. She saw him move his hand as if to offer her the spot. Jan Di really didn't know if she was going to be able to, but she'd try either way. She always liked the piano, but there was no money at home to learn it, so she had seized every opportunity there had been back in middle school, on a very, very old Steinway that was in serious need of a tuning.
Her fingers tried a scale and then some notes. Ji Hoo played a few to accompany her, and then, he started to play a melody she knew very well. Thanks to muscle memory, her fingers were starting to move more easily now.
I'm walking all over the place,
for some reason I feel excited.
"I know that song!" Ji Min said.
"Really?" Ji Hoo asked, surprised. When he turned to Jan Di, she looked a little flustered.
"It was the only way he would fall asleep when he was a baby. He would listen to it and then relax or something," she said
"Sometimes Omma still sings it for me."
"Why don't we sing it, then? You know all of it, right Ji Min?" Ji Hoo suggested, and the little boy agreed. "Jan Di, play it with me."
"I'll probably make a lot of mistakes."
"I'll help you, come on." Ji Hoo nudged her shoulder and she relented. Ji Min came to stand close to his mother, and they started to sing.
Ji Min hadn't known his mom could play, and even though she made a couple mistakes at first, she totally got it right after that.
Next to you, everything is right.
You make me smile.
Even my wounded heart, closed off with scars,
smiles when I see you
And I do the same as you,
I smile just like you do.
I also want to be
the person that you like
They kept on singing, and Ji Hoo noticed Ji Min even added a few clean high notes. The little boy liked SHINee so much, and he often tried to imitate Jonghyun or Taemin when singing.
Once they were done, the three of them were surprised to hear applause coming from the entrance.
"Woo! That's what I call a performance!" Woo Bin yelled. All the gang was there, and Jan Di remembered Ji Hoo had told her they were going to catch up with them later.
Ji Min immediately ran up to the group to tell them all the things he had done earlier with his hyung and omma.
While this happened, Jan Di turned to Ji Hoo.
"Thank you for still remembering that song."
"We played it a lot, didn't we?"
They both smiled and stood up to greet the rest of the guys.
"I didn't know you had such a nice voice, Jan Di-ah!" Jae Kyung told her once they had hugged. "And you play the piano. Is there anything you can't do?"
"Accepting a gesture of good will without wanting to give something in return," said Ji Hoo.
"Never wanting us to pay for anything," said Jun Pyo.
"Letting her pride dictate her decisions," said Woo Bin.
"Being impulsive and not measuring the consequences to her actions," said Yi Jung.
To say Jan Di was embarrassed would be to downplay what she was feeling. She knew the guys were right, but she didn't think they would outright say it out loud.
"Shut up…" Still, she couldn't be mad at them because first, everything they said was true, and two, because they were all smiling while they said it.
"Oh, don't be mean, guys. Jan Di-ah, wouldn't you sing again? Hmm? Please? Just one more song, I really liked what I heard just now!" Jae Kyung was really excited.
"I think we all did," said Sun Mi. She had tried to come earlier, but the meetings had kept her busier than she had thought.
"Well...I don't know if-" Jan Di started, but Woo Bin cut her off.
"Come on, sis! The only one who got to hear you singing back then was our boy Ji Hoo; we want to hear you, too!"
She sighed because that was true; she never really sang and only did so when she and Ji Hoo were practicing at the concert hall or at his house.
"Okay, but just one song."
Everyone cheered and went to their seats while Jan Di walked back to the stage.
That second, the doors opened again, and a group of musicians walked in, stopping abruptly when they saw Ji Hoo and the rest of F4, plus their girlfriends, inside.
"Excuse us, Director." One of them bowed down. "We were told this hall was free for practicing."
"Worry not," Ji Hoo quickly told the girl, "we'll be done very soon. You're welcome to stay. Take a seat."
Jan Di wanted to go back to the group, but if Ji Hoo had asked them to sit, he obviously thought she was going to perform.
She reluctantly climbed the stairs to the stage and sat before the piano.
"What should I play then?"
"Make it a love song, Jan Di-ah! Those always sound so beautiful on piano," gushed Jae Kyung.
"A love song…" Jan Di thought for a bit and then found the perfect one in her head. "Okay, a love song it is."
"Is it for me, Jan Di-ah?" Yi Jung teased her, and she shivered as if the sole idea was an awful medicine to drink, making him laugh.
"No, it is not for you. If you must know, this is for a guy I love very much."
"Oh, really? You didn't tell us you had a boyfriend, Jan Di. I have to meet him to give him my approval," Woo Bin said.
"Well, I don't think you'll disapprove. He's kind, smart, has good manners, most of the time, and treats me like a queen." All of her friends were waiting for her to say who it was "This song is for you, my prince," Jan Di told Ji Min, and he smiled that smile that made her heart melt.
She took a deep breath, trying to forgot there were other people there she had never met before, and put her hands on the keys.
The melody seemed to be slow and warm. She found the rhythm quickly and quietly cleared her throat. After just the first few notes, Jan Di's voice rang out. She started telling a story about the rain in her heart and the loneliness she had felt.
You are like a light after the rain has passed.
The guys knew that she could sing, but not as such. The control that she had was incredible for an amateur.
The chorus soon came, and they were all struck. The notes, high and clear, loving and in the perfect pitch. Her eyes were closed and her hands confident. Her friends seemed surprised, except for Ji Min and Ji Hoo. Ji Min always listened to his mom sing, and Ji Hoo was the one who perfected Jan Di's skills on the piano, and even if it had been many years, her voice still held that mezzo-soprano quality.
While thinking of this, he noticed his musicians had gone up to the stage with their instruments in hand. Were they…?
When I turn my head at your smile,
unknowingly, I reach my hand out like this
Yes, they were. They had all grabbed their instruments and were waiting for the proper beat to enter. When the first violin note could be heard, Jan Di snapped her eyes open to find all of the musicians at her side, following her music in tandem.
She had not been expecting this, but she still smiled, remembering a time when she had dreamed about playing with those great musicians but knowing she was nowhere near their talent. Still, right now, she was playing with them, so she better make the most of it.
Cause you are, the light that fell on me.
You are, like a beautiful dream.
It was amazing how these people could easily accompany her piano and voice. But she knew that as the song carried on, there was an effect that was needed. She scanned her memories, remembering her lessons with Ji Hoo about directing, and she tried to make eye contact with the musicians. One of her hands indicated that she would direct, and brief nods were exchanged.
The crescendo was coming. The violins, cellos, and harps, all running with her voice. Jan Di held a high note, and then her hand went up to quickly form a tight fist. The orchestra stopped at that exact second, only to immediately follow Jan Di's hand again when it fell, pouring sound into the melody once more. It was beautiful.
You are...always beside me.
You are...inside of my tender heart.
Jun Pyo felt Jae Kyung cuddling next to him with a smile on her face, and he, watching to see that everyone was distracted with Jan Di, kissed her head.
The sentiment in her voice gave Yi Jung chills, and he was impressed by yet another talent of the girl who had transformed F4 with her attitude and sassiness.
Sun Mi could feel goosebumps on her arms and neck, such was the power of her voice filling that hall, building even over the sounds of the instruments while she declared Ji Min was her star. She couldn't have imagined she had such talent for music. When turning to see her boyfriend, she noted the distinctive tint of pride emanating from him. That's right, he told me he taught her some piano. Sun Mi smiled at this, thinking maybe she should also accept his offer to teach her an instrument.
Finally, Jan Di turned her smiling face toward her son, and they all could see there were tears in her eyes. No one in that hall could say they didn't feel the love pouring from every note.
You're my star...Yeah you are…
The melody faded out with the last long note that escaped Jan Di's chest, leaving the hall filled, once more, with only the warm notes from the piano and her voice.
As soon as the last note was heard, everyone clapped: musicians and friends. Ji Min quickly went to his mother and whispered in her ear that she was his rainbow, too. Jan Di laughed through her tears and quickly trapped him in a hug.
After that, she strode over to the musicians and bowed, thanking them for what they had done.
"We love Taeyeon songs! We practiced this one last year, so it is fresh. You have a beautiful voice," said one of the girls.
"And you play so beautifully!"
Jan Di spoke a bit with all of the musicians while Ji Min seized the opportunity to tell the girl playing the cello that he had gotten a brand new one earlier that day.
Ji Hoo smiled at the scene, feeling such pride after having seen his good friend having fun and getting the opportunity to show off her talents. It had been a day for Ji Min, yes, but it had ended up being a day for Jan Di as well.
"Ji Min-ah, you've been coughing and you feel warm, so no ice cream for now."
"But Doctor Grandpa said ice cream doesn't make you sick."
"And he might be right, but I don't want to take any chances. You were just sick, love, do you want to be sick again?"
"I want ice cream!"
They had all gone for dinner and Yi Jung had suggested ice cream for dessert, forgetting that Ji Min had been sick a few days before. He felt bad about it and tried to mention other desserts that were way tastier, but Ji Min wasn't having it.
Jan Di saw how her boy was quickly running down the path to an impossible tantrum in the middle of the elegant restaurant they were eating in, so she prepared to drag him to the street or the bathroom if necessary.
"Geum Ji Min, I said no ice cream, and that's final. You can choose any other dessert that is not a frozen one."
"I WANT ICE CREAM!"
And to everyone's surprise, Jan Di grabbed his arm and dragged him to the bathroom area, a steely look in her eyes.
"Damn it, I totally forgot. But he could've chosen something else!" Yi Jung said. He really was feeling guilty.
"He's a kid; he doesn't understand logic the same. We just forget that because he's a bit more mature. Don't you remember how my sisters were?" Woo Bin gave him a pointed look.
"Don't make me remember those times. It was exhausting."
No one at the table made further comments about it, for none of them had suffered that kind of treatment from their parents. The guys had received some slaps, but when they were older, and the girls were always princesses. Sun Mi remembered that even when her mother found her in Italy, she simply dragged her by the arm and threw her in the rehab facility; she never hit her.
A few minutes later, that actually felt like more, Jan Di was walking back with Ji Min to their table, before the surprised and reproachful gazes of some other guests around them. They'd probably never seen explicit parenting, and in a public place. Jan Di looked completely unfazed by this, though, and quickly sat her son down and then herself.
"Well? Are you waiting for an invitation?" She spat out to her son once there was silence again.
"I...I'm very...sorry." Ji Min sniffled out. His face was red and splotchy, but he was looking up at all of them.
"For what?" Jan Di pressed on.
"For...for yelling and disrespecting an elder."
"For crying...when there was nothing to cry about."
"Good. Now finish your dinner. No dessert for you tonight."
"Dinner, shower, and bed."
Ji Min nodded and lowered his head, grabbing his fork to finish his dinner.
Jan Di looked up at everyone and apologized as well. Of course, everyone said there was nothing to apologize for. Yi Jung said he thought it best to skip dessert, but Jan Di simply told him they shouldn't change their plans for a temper tantrum, to please try to enjoy their dinner.
Jun Pyo, on his part, thought that this was probably harsher than any slap he might have received from his mother. That was a sting to his cheek and done. The punishment Jan Di was dishing out was way more severe, even without actually physically hurting her son.
Of course, no one wanted dessert, even though dinner carried on and Ji Min looked better, though duly chastised.
They put an end to the night early; it was barely 7 p.m., and everyone told Jan Di they would call her the next day to see what they would do. She thanked them because she had noticed Ji Min was actually feeling warmer, and she wanted to give him a lukewarm bath in case he was getting a fever. He had been fine all day, but kids sometimes went from 0 to 100.
After saying their goodbyes, Ji Hoo called on a driver to take Jan Di and Ji Min back to the hotel.
Sun Mi had her head on Ji Hoo's shoulder while they sat on his couch. They were watching some documentary tonight and just chilling. She had even made some microwave pop-corn and served some cranberry juice to go with it. A quiet night.
She had noticed, though, that her boyfriend had been humming recently. It seemed to always be the same short melody or something that sounded the same.
"You're humming again," she told him after another episode had ended.
"Hmm? Oh, sorry."
"No, it's okay, I just wonder..."
"I've had this melody going around my brain for a while, but I can't seem to shape it up completely. Sorry if that bothers you."
"Not at all. You haven't been playing lately or composing, so it's great that that's coming back to you. You told me you were somewhat stuck, right?"
She cuddled next to him, and he opened his arm to give her more space.
When an hour or so had gone by, and it was close to midnight, Sun Mi felt Ji Hoo startle and sit up.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, could you excuse me for a second?" He got up and went to unplug his phone from the charger.
He started to dial a number and then waited. Sun Mi was surprised by this. Not that the F4 didn't call each other at any hour of the day if they needed something, but Ji Hoo looked worried. He even cursed under his breath before calling again. She was about to ask what was happening when the person answered him.
"Hey, sorry about the time. Is everything okay? ...What happened? Don't say nothing because I can hear you practically crying, Jan Di!"
Why would he call her so late? And why is she crying?
Sun Mi heard him quickly speaking, telling Jan Di to calm down and that he'd be there-wherever there was-soon.
He hung up and went to take a heavy leather jacket out of his wardrobe.
"Ji Hoo?" He didn't react. "Ji Hoo! What's going on?"
It was only then that he turned around and looked at her, and Sun Mi felt as if her boyfriend had forgotten she had been there all night.
"I'm sorry, Sun Mi-ah. Seems like Ji Min has developed a very high fever that Jan Di wasn't able to bring down with medicine or cold baths. She's at the clinic right now, and I'm going over there."
Sun Mi immediately sprinted into action, starting to gather her things together, but then she saw Ji Hoo taking his helmet in his hands.
"You are not leaving me here, are you?"
"No, I was going to call Woo Bin to pick you up."
"Why can't we just go together?"
"Well…" Ji Hoo looked sheepish. "The bike is faster. We could ride-"
"You know I don't like riding bikes."
Sun Mi had ridden bikes in the past, several of them, back in Italy where the Ducati bikes were what all the cool boys and their girls rode. She had never driven one but had ridden as a back passenger. And she was once in an accident. How she came out with just some cuts and bruises, she'd never know, because the driver fell into a coma. Far as she knew, he hadn't woken up by the time she had left. Sun Mi had been scared to death and refused to ever ride a bike again. No matter if the driver was Ji Hoo and she knew he wouldn't do something to put them in harm, the memories would come back to her whenever she was near a bike.
She shook her head to get rid of the images of a bloody Francesco on the floor and looked back to her boyfriend. He seemed to be debating on what to do and finally put the helmet down and started to call again, this time to the F4.
Barely a minute later, he spoke. "Woo Bin and Yi Jung are going there right now. Do you need anything else before we leave?"
"No, I'm ok to go."
For some reason, Sun Mi felt as though she had done something wrong, and she didn't like it.
Woo Bin, Yi Jung, Ji Hoo and Sun Mi were all in a small lobby area, if you could call it that, of a house that supposedly was a clinic.
When they arrived, Woo Bin and Yi Jung had been there. They had been together at a club near the address Jan Di had given Ji Hoo. All they knew was that Ji Min had a very, very high fever and that Jan Di was worried sick. She'd been called back inside by the doctor a few moments before they had arrived.
They were all worried. Jun Pyo and Jae Kyung couldn't go as her sister apparently had gone into labor.
"I'm going to get something to drink for all of us. Coffee?" Ji Hoo asked, and they all agreed. Sun Mi went with him to the door, but he told her it was okay, to keep warm inside and that he'd be back soon. She kissed him and sighed a bit. Slowly going back inside, she could hear Woo Bin and Yi Jung talking. For some reason, she stood close and listened.
"Good thing Ji Hoo called us, but what I can't understand is why Jan Di doesn't want to go to the private clinic." She heard Woo Bin saying.
"She says she trusts this doctor, so we'll have to let it be. Jan Di knows she can ask us, and she won't risk Ji Min's health," Yi Jung answered.
"Yeah, that's true…" After that, it was quiet, so Sun Mi decided to go back in, but something Woo Bin said made her stop. "So, Ji Hoo and his spidey sense again."
"Right? I thought it was nonsense, but... Yeah." Yi Jung remembered all those times Ji Hoo had suddenly said he needed to call Jan Di or asked where she was because he felt 'something was wrong'.
"He always knew when Jan Di was in trouble back in college, like when Jun Pyo's mom called her, remember? I didn't think it would apply to the present as well."
"Those two... It's like a thread connects them."
"Oy, don't say that. What about Sun Mi?" Woo Bin had known about Ji Hoo and Jan Di's connection, but that was years ago. Right now, he was with Sun Mi and happy again after so long.
"I didn't mean the red thread; I just said a thread. You have to admit it, and you know I don't normally believe this stuff, but it's like Fate."
"Okay, I accept that they have some kind of bond that's weird and hard to explain."
After that, they were silent. Sun Mi didn't know what to make of what they had said, but she knew she had to go inside quickly, lest Ji Hoo find her outside.
Putting on a normal smile, she made her presence known and took a seat in front of the guys, and she waited for her boyfriend to return to hug and comfort her.
"Wǒ huāle jǐ nián shíjiān." - It took me a few years
"Bù xiāngxìn nǐ." - I don't believe you
The Red Thread of Fate (simplified Chinese: 姻缘红线; traditional Chinese: 姻緣紅線; pinyin: Yīnyuán hóngxiàn), also referred to as the Red Thread of Marriage, and other variants, is an East Asian belief originating from Chinese legend. According to this myth, the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. Often, in Japanese and Korean culture, it is thought to be tied around the little finger. According to Chinese legend, the deity in charge of "the red thread" is believed to be Yuè Xià Lǎorén (月下老人), often abbreviated to Yuè Lǎo (月老), the old lunar matchmaker god, who is in charge of marriages.
I did my best with the cello description. If there are any musicians out there and this is way off, I apologize. I hope yoiu all enjoyed this chapter and that the next one comes quicker than the last.
Thank you all!