Park Jimin’s life was currently miserable.
Clutching his aching head, he groaned. Crumpled bills and coins were scattered on his almost-broken coffee table as he cried over his unfortunate life. His wallet was getting thinner, yet the pile of papers on his desk was getting thicker every day. He was wondering if he could apply for some graveyard shifts at the convenience stores around his neighborhood even it meant he would have to cut his sleep time into three or four hours on the days when he had afternoon class. And no sleep at all if he had morning class.
He was in his final year of college. Final year meant myriad of assignments. Myriad of assignments meant no time for part time jobs. No time for part time jobs meant no money. No money meant no capability to finish his college.
It was a vicious circle and he was on the verge of being kicked out of his room for delaying his payment for about three months already.
Jimin could call his parents in Busan and ask them for some money but it meant he would be a burden as a first son because his younger brother was about to enroll into college which meant more money to spend. His family wasn’t loaded and he wouldn’t want to make them more broke than they already were.
But, the money on his coffee table was only enough to feed his stomach for about three days, if he ate once a day, which was impossible since he had to gain energy for his dance class and also to print countless papers for his essay about Meiji Restoration. He was kind of regretting to take minor in Dance while he was barely alive in his Japanese Studies major.
Leaving his money on his table, Jimin got up from his mattress slash sofa slash study area to fetch water from the mini fridge on the counter beside the sink of his mini kitchen which was located like about a meter from his mattress.
Sighing around the neck of the bottle, Jimin glanced at the clock on his table and put the bottle back into his fridge; it was his time to go to class.
Putting on whatever hoodie he could find from the small, plastic cabinet he called wardrobe, Jimin snatched his messenger bag and went out, just to be greeted by the face of the landlord.
“Park Jimin.” The landlord crossed her arms on her chest.
“Good afternoon, Ma’am.” Jimin smiled politely while he was panicking inside.
“It’s been almost three months. When will you pay?”
Jimin gulped, “Please give me two weeks, Ma’am! I’ll pay you!”
“You said that two weeks ago,” The lady tsk-ed, “A week.”
“Ten days, please?”
“You want me to reduce it to three days?”
“No, Ma’am!” Jimin squeaked, “A week, it is!”
“Good.” The lady sighed, “A week with no money, I’ll evict you without your consent.”
“Okay.” Jimin answered with small voice.
The murderous-looking lady finally walked away and Jimin could breathe again. But, on the second thought, how would he pay his three months payment in a week? He was barely hanging on his life.
Not wanting to get more headache he had already had, Jimin left from his front door to climb down the stairs and go to his university.
“Yo!” A cheerful voice was heard when he was brooding on his seat, waiting for his general course’s lecturer to come.
“Shut up, Wheein. I’m not in the mood.” Jimin groaned.
The girl sat down beside him and frowned, “What’s wrong, Chims?”
“Nothing, it’s just—my landlord is going to evict me if I don’t pay her by next week.”
Wheein gasped, “So rude! Chims, I’ve told you I could help you! Come on, just say yes! I can lend him you some money.”
“It’s three months payment. I don’t think you’ll have that much money.” Jimin stated the fact before shrinking further into his seat, “Also, I don’t want to burden my friend.”
“Oh, well, yeah, I don’t have that much money, but we can work for it? I mean, I don’t mind to ask Yongsun-eonnie to help you.”
“No!” Jimin straightened his back abruptly, “No, Wheein, no! That’s more mortifying than borrowing some money from you! I’m not even that close to Yongsun-noona!”
“But, Chims!” Wheein whined, “How will you earn the money by next week?”
“I don’t know—but I’ll work for it, I guess.” Jimin pressed his lips together, “Don’t worry. I’ll figure something out.”
Sighing, Wheein threw her bag on the desk in defeat, “Fine! But, if you really can’t earn it before the deadline, you have to let me help you.”
Jimin knocked his shoulder on the girl’s and smiled, “Thank you. You’re the best.”
The lecturer came and Jimin mentally noted; graveyard shifts, it was.
Jimin had applied to some convenience stores around but none of them was willing to give out weekly payment. All of them would accumulate his working hours and pay him by the end of the month. But, Jimin didn’t have a month, and he didn’t have even a week by now that he had spent two days asking around.
He was swinging on a swing that night, crying over his pathetic life mentally, when suddenly his phone went off. Without checking the caller, Jimin picked it up.
Cough. “He—hello, Chims.” Cough.
Jimin frowned at the toad voice coming from his speaker and checked the caller; it was Wheein.
“Wheein? What the hell is wrong with your voice?” Jimin asked.
There was a painful groan from the other line, followed by a string of frantic coughs, and then Wheein’s toad voice came back, “I’m sick—like—really sick. The sickest sick ever in my entire life.”
“Stop being drama queen and tell me what’s wrong? Did you get a fever?”
“Yeah. Fever. Cough. Runny nose. Everything hurts! I’m going to die!”
“You’re not going to die, Wheein.” Jimin chuckled, but he couldn’t help but worried about his friend’s condition since it sounded so bad, “Do you need me to bring you some porridge and medicine?”
“No, Yongsun-eonnie is here and has taken care of stuff. But, I do need you to do some favor though.”
“Yeah, tell me. I’ll help you if I can.”
“So, unfortunately I have this assignment to interview some public figure and I have the appointment already. But, I don’t think I can get any better tomorrow, while the appointment—fuck—I don’t think this person will be willing to change the date since he’s so busy or something. I got to make one with him after three freaking months of whining and crying via emails to his secretary before I got a yes. Chims, I can’t let this go! This assignment will have about 70% of my grade for this class. So, please, please, please, can you replace me tomorrow?”
Jimin chocked on air, “Wheein! I’m not a Journalism and Mass Communication student!”
“But, you’ve attended that Basic Communication course with me!”
“It was one term! And it was because I had to choose on general course! And I chose it because you were in that too so at least I had a friend!”
“You’re majoring language studies so I bet you’re good with communication too! It won’t be that bad, Chims!”
“Wheein!” Jimin groaned. He saw a mother looking at him strangely at the loudness of his voice so he had to cover his mouth and hissed into his phone, “Listen, I’m a Japanese Studies student, okay? I can’t go in there to start conversation with ohayou gozaimasu and end it with arigatou gozaimasu, because that’s my field but I’m 100% sure it’s not your assignment about. I can’t.”
And then Wheein went silent on the other line.
“Wheein?” Jimin asked in panic, the last thing he wanted was his friend to be upset at him.
“Oh, well,” Wheein sniffled, “I’ll just fail this class then…I’ll—I’ll just retake it next year. I’m sorry, Chims. Bye.”
The dial was hung up and Jimin crouched down in despair. He knew he had fallen into Wheein heart-wrenching-whining trap, but it didn’t stop him from dialing Wheein’s number back.
“Hello?” Wheein’s sniffle greeted him.
“Fuck, okay! Okay!” Jimin hissed, mentally thinking how he would regret it later, “I’ll do it, okay? Don’t cry, Wheein.”
“Really?? Aw, Chims, you’re the sweetest! Thank you so much! And don’t worry, I’ll pay you for it!”
“Yes! Just consider it as errands you have to run just like you deliver newspaper and get money from that, yeah? That’s the least I can do for you, my beloved mochi. I’ll send you the address and the time you have to go there tomorrow after this call. Love ya! Mwah!”
And the dial was hung up once again.
Jimin couldn’t help but felt being fooled, but there was no way Wheein fooling him about her sickness just so she could help him with his economic trouble. Or was she?
His phone beeped and a notification appeared on his lock screen.
Jung Wheein shared a location.
Jung Wheein : The appointment is 11am but it’ll be better if you come a little bit earlier, just to show him that you’re serious about the interview.
Jung Wheein : I’ll send you the questions to your email. You can add some more to liven the interview though.
The boy pursed his lips and stared at the darkening sky above him thoughtfully. And then he unlocked his screen to reply his best friend.
Park Jimin : Who’s the interviewee anyway?
Park Jimin : You didn’t tell me yet.
Jung Wheein : Oh, I didn’t? My bad!
Jung Wheein : It’s Min Yoongi.
Jimin had a sudden urge to throw his phone into the nearest puddle of rain water and just to move out the country and change his name into Jeremy. But, he didn’t.
Instead, he gripped the nearest lamp pole and groaned for the umpteenth time for the night.
Min Yoongi was one of the most desirable bachelors in South Korea. He was CEO of the most monstrous and trusted law firm in Seoul. As a lawyer himself, Min Yoongi had succeeded defending so many rich people and public figures. He was so young though, 28 years old at the time. And single (hence, one of the most desirable bachelors). He hadn’t drawn any news about dating women and no one knew his real reason. The statement he usually gave on every magazine asking about this was that he was too busy to date since he was practically married to his job.
Oh, and he had the face too. He was fair skinned, black haired, lazy smirk which could any woman swoon. He wasn’t that tall, one of the magazine revealed that his height was only about a centimeter taller than Jimin.
Young, handsome, ambitious, single and successful, no wonder he was awarded by the title.
And no, Jimin hadn’t been tracking Min Yoongi’s profile and articles. It just happened because he best friended with Wheein who was like the biggest fan of the man Jimin had ever met.
So, Jimin had to face the mogul with his limited skill. If he was kicked out before the interview was done, he wouldn’t be surprised. And he only hoped he would do well, because this wasn’t about him, it was about Wheein’s grade.
Once he arrived at his tiny room, Jimin turned his old notebook on and opened the file Wheein had sent to his email. The questions were basic, just what magazines usually asked the mogul. And he couldn’t help but snort to read a question about Min Yoongi’s love life. He was sure he would get the same answer because that was what the lawyer always said in all interviews.
Maybe Jimin wasn’t in the right major, but he knew basic interview procedure since he had had to interview a native Japanese speaker before. It wouldn’t be the same with Wheein’s procedure, but at least the girl would have the idea.
So, he wrote down the questions on his note book with enough spaces to write down each answer between them. He also checked his phone storage just to make sure he wouldn’t run out of it in the middle of recording.
When Jimin was done, he realized that the time had hit midnight. He had to sleep or he would show up like a zombie, and he wasn’t sure he wanted that. So, after packing pens, note book, power bank and headset into his bag, Jimin prepared to sleep.
It was going to be a restless night.
The building in front of him was tall and intimidating that he had to swallow the lump forming in his throat. When Jimin stepped into the lobby with his crumpled white button down shirt under beige oversized cardigan which fell until the upper thighs of his black jeans, he was sure all eyes were on him. He knew he was underdressed but they were the most formal clothes he had since his wardrobe was dominated by hoodies, shirts, sweatpants and ripped jeans.
Walking carefully over the receptionist, he cleared his throat to gain some attention. The woman looked up to him judgingly but smiled nonetheless; basic procedure, of course.
“May I help you, Sir?” She asked.
“Uh,” Jimin started, “I have interview appointment with Min Yoongi under the name Jung Wheein.”
“Jung Wheein. Please wait a minute, Sir.” The young woman typed something on her computer and then there was sound from the printer behind her. She turned around to take a thin card which she immediately tapped on some flat-surfaced cylinder beside the keyboard with a beep. And then she stood up again to give him the card. “This is a visitor card. You have to tap this on the gate to enter the office area also on the elevator before you press your destination floor. Your destination is on the eleventh floor. You will be greeted by his secretary, who will guide you to Min Yoongi-ssi’s office. Is there anything else I could help you with, Sir?”
“No, thank you.” Jimin sent her a tight smile before leaving the counter to the line of small gates on the other side of the lobby. He tapped his visitor card on the blinking red surface until it turned blue and passed the opened gate. Since it was office hour, he didn’t see so much people around, might be working in their cubicles or something. So, when he stepped into the elevator he was all alone. Tapping his card on the screen, Jimin pressed the eleventh button.
During his ride to the destination floor, Jimin couldn’t stay still and started rocking back and forth on his heels. His heartbeat was increasing the higher he went. And he let out a surprised squeak when finally he reached the eleventh floor and the door opened.
Taking a deep breath, Jimin walked out of the elevator. A woman behind a wide wooden desk stood up with a smile on his red lips before asking, “Jung Wheein?”
My name’s Park Jimin actually but—“Yes.”
“This way, please.” She gestured and Jimin followed him silently until both of the reached the majestic double-door. She knocked the door and announced, “Yoongi-ssi, Jung Wheein has come.”
When there was a faint “come in” from the other side of the door, Jimin felt like jelly.
The woman scooted away from him and then pushed the door open.
“Please.” She said.
Tightening his grip on the belt of his bag, Jimin stepped in. The door was closed with a soft thud behind him once he was inside and he jolted slightly on the spot hearing the sound.
The room was wide. And luxurious. It was dominated by dark wooden pattern and merlot color. They gave a sensual vibe. And even though the sunlight was so bright, coming through the wide windows all around the walls, Jimin felt claustrophobic. Maybe from his nervousness.
“So, you’re the interviewer.” A voice—deep and a little bit raspy—came from his left.
Jimin gasped and snapped his head to the source just to find the said Min Yoongi standing casually with his blazer draping on his elbow.
The lawyer checked him up and down with calculating hum before turning towards the wooden desk in the middle of the room. He hung the blazer on the backrest of the armchair and then started rolling his button down shirt sleeve to his elbow.
“I thought Jung Wheein was a female.” Yoongi stated and then turned to roll his other sleeve.
“Oh, well,” Jimin didn’t know if replacing his friend was allowed so he would just play a role as Wheein, “my mother had wanted me as a girl, so.” He ended it with an awkward chuckle.
Yoongi raised his eyebrow but he didn’t say anything as he sat down on one of the sofa in front of the wooden desk.
“Please, sit down.” Yoongi gestured another sofa across of him, separated by a long coffee table in the middle.
“Thank you.” Jimin muttered and sat down. He fished his phone out and put it on the table, “Do you mind if use recorder during this interview, Min Yoongi-ssi?”
“No, I don’t.” Yoongi curtly answered.
Jimin gave him a smile—or he hoped it a smile and not grimace—and fished out his note book and pen.
“Uhm, do you mind if we start?”
“Not at all.” Yoongi, once again, answered shortly.
The boy cursed mentally and ran the recorder on his phone. Clearing his throat, he started asking the questions one by one. Yoongi always answered him short and clear, and it made Jimin hard to liven the interview. He wasn’t professional in this field, so he just wanted to finish it fast with satisfied answers. Wheein would understand his lacking.
Jimin was stuttering the eighth question: You’re young and settled, there must be so many women chasing after you, so is there any reason you don’t want to commit into relationship? But by the end of it, he didn’t get any answer so he lifted his eyes expectantly at the older lawyer, who was apparently staring at him intensely. The gaze was giving Jimin hard time to breath as he felt his blood rushing up to his face so he looked down immediately to his book, silently wondering what he had done wrong.
He heard a sigh coming out from the lawyer and then he saw a pale hand reaching out his phone on the table, pressing the stop button on the screen. At this, Jimin lifted his head in panic again.
“You’re not Jung Wheein, are you?” Yoongi interjected his stutter.
Jimin clacked his teeth together, pressing his lips. His head was dizzy from thinking a way to escape the unexpected situation.
“If you’re not Jung Wheein,” Yoongi leaned forward, supporting his upper body with his elbows on his knees, and narrowed his eyes, “who the fuck are you?”
The boy flinched at the profanity but he still couldn’t find a right answer.
“Are you here to spy my firm?” Yoongi asked again, “Because if yes, I will make sure you spend years in jail for trespassing and faking identity.”
“No!” Jimin gasped, “No, Sir.”
Yoongi was still shooting bullet to his head, waiting for him to explain. So, Jimin looked up with defeated sigh, “I’m not Jung Wheein. My name’s Park Jimin and Jung Wheein is my friend. She’s currently bed-resting right now since she has high fever, and I’m doing a favor for her to interview you because this is the matter of 70% score of her class.”
The lawyer leaned back to his backrest and crossed his arms, “Park Jimin, huh?”
“Yes, Sir. My apology, Sir. I should let you know, but I didn’t know if it was allowed to replace my friend, so…”
The young mogul stayed silent and Jimin looked down again to play with the hem of his cardigan.
“I see.” Yoongi said. He stood up to lean his backside on his wooden table, “I won’t throw you into jail, Kid, don’t worry.”
“Thank you, Min Yoongi-ssi.” Jimin said softly. In the back of his head, he really felt guilty to Wheein because he had failed everything.
“I’ll give you—or your friend’s assignment—one more chance.” Yoongi stated, “But by the time, I want it to be ready. Can you do that?”
Jimin lifted his eyes and smiled, “Really?? I—I mean, yes, I understand! I—thank you for your kindness.”
“And one more condition.” Jimin waited for the lawyer to finish patiently, “You have to be the one interviewing me. You came as your friend’s replacement, so you have to finish it yourself.”
Jimin felt his heart fall. But, he couldn’t fail Wheein when he was given a second chance, so he nodded, “Understood, Min Yoongi-ssi. I will come again.”
“You can go for now, don’t forget to leave your number to my secretary so she can contact you when I have time for the interview.”
Jimin nodded frantically and practically shoved everything messily into his backpack, not wanting to make the lawyer waiting too long for his leaving.
Yoongi walked him to the door and he thanked the lawyer once again, with deep bow this time.
“Hey.” Yoongi suddenly called him when he was about to leave.
“Yes?” Jimin asked meekly.
“For your last question about the reason why I don’t date any woman,” Yoongi said as he leaned casually on the doorway, crossing his arms on his lean chest. Jimin was waiting for the lawyer’s usual boring answer with a smile. “I’m gay.”
Okay, that wasn’t what Jimin had expected. He was sure his jaw had fallen down onto the floor.
Yoongi pressed his index finger on his thin, pouty lips, and said, “But, it’s off-record and confidential. Got it?”
The lazy, dangerous smirk on the handsome lawyer’s face made Jimin weak on the knees. He blindly nodded, not saying a thing because he didn’t trust his own voice.
“See you again soon, Park Jimin.” The mogul chuckled lowly, sending the fine hair on Jimin’s nape to stand.
The majestic double-door was closed before Jimin could close his mouth.