Chapter 1: One
“ okay. here we go. “
hyungwon finally gathered the courage to step inside the gigantic building after having stood there for over 10 minutes. it was his first day at the SL company and he was beyond nervous.
The SL company was one of the top 3 biggest companies in Australia. the reason behind its unbelievable success in only 6 years was the two CEOs that were practically proven geniuses.
Mr. Son and Mr. Lee first presented their idea at a startup event and immediately found sponsors. from that point on, they only kept on rising.
but the popularity and success of the company wasn’t what made hyungwon’s stomach turn and literally throw up in the morning before he walked out of his apartment, the CEO was.
As mentioned, SL was owned by two CEOs. hyungwon had met them in a few meetings at his previous workplace. Mr. Lee was terrifying. so so so terrifying and if it wasn’t for the huge salary this job offered, he would never ever EVER even apply. but he was reaching his 30s in two years and it was time to step out of his comfort zone and leave the job he had for years to be able to save up a bit. well, save up A LOT since the salary was crazy!
but now, actually walking toward the elevator, getting in, and reaching his bosses’ office, he was regretting his life choices.
he was there, standing behind the big double wooden door, breathing deeply to get himself ready to knock. he was still not over the trauma of their last meeting when Mr. Lee had thrown a whole folder at his previous boss for not being thoroughly prepared. and if the CEO treated another CEO of another company like that, he didn’t even wanna imagine what kind of treatment he himself was gonna get.
swallowing hard, he finally raised his hand and knocked on the door twice. at his previous job, the boss didn’t like saying ‘ come in ‘ all the time so they kind of went in after knocking and waiting for a few seconds and that was what hyungwon did here as well. oh how he wished he had waited..
walking in, he saw the scary man leaning back on his comfortable leather chair behind his desk with his eyes closed. Mr. Lee was asleep.
looking at the other desk, just half a meter away from Mr.Lee’s, he found it unoccupied. he was told to be there at 8 AM sharp but one of his bosses was asleep and the other one wasn’t even there so he was kind of lost. he didn’t know what to do with himself. he decided that it was only best if he left the room and waited for Mr.Son to arrive. only that he never even managed to turn the doorknob.
his hand had just touched the cold metal of the doorknob when he was grabbed by the back of his collar harshly, turned around and pressed on the wooden surface of the door with so much force, all the air left his lungs.
staring at the man who had been asleep just a second ago with wide eyes and a parted mouth in fear, he only managed to raise his hands to defend himself if necessary.
“ who are you “ the question didn’t even sound like a question as the muscular man pushed him further into the surface with the hand he had on hyungwon’s chest, the other hanging in the air ready to punch him or something.
“ i-i’m chae hyungwon. “ he stuttered and couldn’t even blink. this man was even more terrifying up close. his eyes were so intense, hyungwon could swear he would break a neck in a second without hesitance if he felt the need to.
“ i don’t care about your name. what are you doing in my office chae hyungwon? “ the man’s face came closer to his and he had to look to the side because there was no way he could keep the eye contact. he was sure he would wet himself any second now and was kind of thankful he had thrown up all he had eaten in the morning or else he would do it now.
the gods must have heard his prayers as the door opened and Mr.Son walked in. he locked eyes with hyungwon for less than a second before looking at the man holding him there for the equal amount of time. this must have been something that happened often because Mr.Son didn’t look surprised or shocked or even slightly scared.
throwing the folder he had in hand, Mr.Son circled his fingers around the hand that was aimed at hyungwon in the air. he leaned down slowly and whispered something in Mr.Lee’s ear. it was so low that even though they were literally standing next to each other, hyungwon didn’t hear it. he was only thankful that whatever the other had said, it had managed to calm Mr.Lee down as he let go of him and took a step back, still looking at him like he had murdered the president or something.
“ i’m gonna get some air. “ the man who had attacked him said before walking out of the office and closing the door behind himself.
he didn’t know what to do so he just stood there, fixing his attire.
“ please. sit down. “ Mr.Son said after a very deep sigh.
hyungwon nodded and walked to the sofa that was across from the one the CEO was sitting on at the moment.
“ sorry for the.. situation. he’s not always like that. he just didn’t know you. “ Mr.Son paused “ he doesn’t like people he doesn’t know. coffee? “
hyungwon shook his head as he was not really in the mood of drinking anything, fearing he would just end up vomiting again. he had a weak stomach.
“ we were too busy and didn’t have time to do the interview ourselves. but the person who chose you for the job was sure you could keep up with all that’s required of you. but i’m guessing they didn’t tell you anything about hoseok. “ Mr.Son said as he played with his chin, looking directly at hyungwon with his legs crossed. he looked like a nobleman.
“ hoseok is rather sensitive but it’ll get easy once you get a hang of his personality. “ Mr.Son said and observed his reaction.
“ Don't come in without permission. Don't make loud noises. Don't make sudden moves. your phone must be on vibration all the time. The office phone is at the lowest volume, leave it like that. just whatever you do, do not make him upset. “
hyungwon found himself swallowing hard and he felt a shiver run down his spine. just what had he gotten himself into?!
“ Nara, would you come here a second, please? “ Mr. Son called in their current assistant, who hyungwon was there to be the replacement of, after their short conversation that left him questioning whether he should really go for this job. it wasn’t too late to turn back yet.
not ten seconds later, the door was knocked ever so quietly and after a brief ‘ come in ‘ the lady walked inside. she was one of the people that were present at his interview the other day. Hyungwon was surprised to see the lack of high heels on her but then again the evil CEO must hate that sound as well so that must’ve been the reason for the sneakers.
“ is hoseok back yet? “ Mr. Son asked as he sat behind his desk.
“ no, did something happen? i was in the copy room until a minute ago. “ Nara, or Mrs. Jang as it said on her name tag asked worriedly.
“ both of us were absent and our new friend came inside without him knowing. “ was the short explanation by the ceo and the lady’s eyes grew so wide, hyungwon thought her eyeballs would jump out of his scalp.
“ oh dear god..” she said under her breath before she turned to face him. “ you must’ve been really scared. i’m sorry. i had to be there to warn you beforehand. “ she had an apologetic look on her face.
“ no, it’s…fine. “ was it? absolutely not.
“ anyway, Nara, show hyungwon around and tell him about his tasks. “ they talked some more about their own business but he zoned out. how was he gonna face this man when he came back? his gaze had been so scary, his bones were still shaking. was the salary really worth it? was Nara on a run for her life from this company? but they didn’t look tense around each other. She even called Mr. Son by his first name without any honorifics attached to it.
“ come on hyungwon. let’s teach you how things work around here. “ he felt like the woman was babying him. he was 28 for god’s sake. judging by her face, Nara was definitely younger. and she was like half his height.
“ so..your soul must’ve jumped out of your body, huh? “ She asked quietly, looking up at him while they walked the few meters to her desk outside of the two CEOs’ office.
“ hasn’t returned yet. “ he spoke the truth.
the other laughed without a sound and gestured him to sit on a chair as she sat behind her desk.
“ again, i’m sorry you had to go through that on your very first day. “ Nara said as she moved a few folders around on the desk. “ as you probably might’ve noticed, there’s only us on this floor. the CEOs and me, the assistant. all the other employees are on the lower ones. that should tell you how much hoseok hates sudden noises. so, first rule: knock on their door gently. “
“ but…why is he so sensitive to sound? it’s just sound! “ no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t get it.
“ well,..the simpler way i can explain this, is that he tends to drown in what he’s doing to the point that he can literally have a heart attack if you as much drop a book suddenly or something. that’s why we had to move into a two-story building just a month after we started the company. since then, with each building we changed, the three of us always have a separate, noise-free floor to ourselves. “ she finished her last sentence fast as her eyes moved to somewhere behind hyungwon, at where the elevator doors opened with a quiet ‘bing’
The CEO’s steps made no sound as he walked to them, glanced toward them for a mili second, which sent a shiver down hyungwon’s spine when the man’s eyes landed on him, and then disappeared behind the double wooden doors of their office. he didn’t miss the smell of cigarette mixed with his cologne that filled the air as Mr. Lee passed by.
looking back at Nara, he noticed how her eyes were narrowed and her lips were pursed in distaste.
“ uh…so you’ve been with them from the very start?! for all the 6 years they’ve been going?! “ he was genuinely curious how someone could survive that long.
“ hm? “ she seemed to be ripped out of her thoughts by his question. “ oh yeah! of course. i’ve been there since the beginning. “ Nara smiled beautifully.
“ then..may i ask why you’re leaving now? i mean..i kinda wanna just flee every time he looks at me like that. it’s like i’ve done him really dirty and he’s waiting to snap my neck! “ he whispered his words, careful not to make a single sound.
Nara stared at him for a couple of seconds before she started laughing, again without a sound.
“ you don’t need to whisper!! oh god! “ the woman had the audacity to even shed tears at how hard she laughed. “ look! i know we keep saying he hates noise but it’s not like everything should be in complete silence. you can talk at your normal volume as long as the norm for you isn’t yelling of course! “ Nara talked all the while keeping her voice as quiet as possible.
“ but you’re not far from whispering yourself! do you want him to chop my head off or something!? i’m not talking loud!! no way! “ hyungwon whispered frustratingly.
“ my vocal cords are not healthy you dummy! i can't talk any louder than this even if i want to.“
there were voices coming from the office. the ceos were talking about something.
“ see? they talk loud enough for us to hear it from here. you can talk just as loud hyungwon! “ she finally stopped giggling and looked at him seriously. “ i know hoseok can come off as scary but he’s actually a good person once you manage to get behind the wall he has built around himself. he won’t hurt you in any way if he doesn’t sense danger from you in the first place. and i wanna leave because i’m adopting a child and i don’t really need to work. but hoseok needed someone trustworthy so i agreed to this job. “
before they could talk further the telephone started ringing, the volume just barely audible.
“ Nara, send him in. “ the hoarse voice talked into the speaker as soon as the assistant pressed the button. Mr. Lee didn’t wait for a reply and hung up.
Nara looked at him with a smile. “ don’t get nervous. he won’t bite. “ she fixed his tie. “ good luck! “
Hyungwon stopped behind the wooden door and swallowed hard before lifting his fist up and knocking carefully.
‘ come in ‘
“ no mike, i told you specifically that we want it the way we planned or no way at all. “ Mr. Lee was on the phone as he walked in. the man’s eyes observed him from head to toe and back up before he stretched his hand and gestured for him to take a seat. “ but it’s useless if he doesn’t have that feature. it won’t be any different from the products that are already on the market. “ his voice was deep and calm. Mr. Son was typing something on his laptop, not paying attention to him or the other ceo. it was really awkward.
hyungwon sat there for about three minutes, listening to the man arguing with the person on the other line and the sounds of keys being pressed rather frantically all the while he didn’t know what to do with himself. his previous workplace had such a friendly environment. they even had monthly parties where they all gathered in the first floor and danced the night away. he ended up fidgeting with his sleeves.
“ man i keep telling you we should stop working with them but you keep manipulating me into keeping the contract every time. “ Mr. Lee groaned and stretched his body as soon as he ended the call. Mr. Son chuckled in response.
“ they’re the best in their field hoseok. you can’t deny that. “ the latter replied without interrupting whatever it was he was writing.
“ i can and will surely deny that. the one in Japan is way better but do you listen to me? of course not! “
hyungwon heard all the back and forth conversation with his head down and eyes focused on how he played with his fingers but once he heard the leather of the chair screech and knew the ceo must’ve got up, he looked to the direction on instinct.
Mr. Lee walked the small gap to Mr. Son’s desk and knocked on the wooden surface covered with glass twice to get the man’s attention.
“ one second “ was the response that came once again without pausing in his task.
the scary ceo hummed lowly and turned around to walk to the couch and sit right in front of hyungwon, legs wide and posture showing off how much power he held.
“ chae hyungwon “ the man said looking at the folder in his hands that was probably his CV.
“ you worked for Peter before this? “ he looked up at him without raising his head up and that made his gaze ten times more intense.
“ yes sir. “ peter was his old boss’s name. and hyungwon was dying under the heavy gaze. he was suffocating. he dug his nails in his thighs subconsciously which the ceo might have noticed since his eyes moved down on him before they landed on his face again.
Mr. Lee closed the folder and threw it on the glass table between them as he sat up properly and crossed his legs.
“ listen. i’m sorry for what happened earlier. i didn’t mean to scare you. but i won’t take responsibility for the holes you’re digging into your suit pants because one should always knock and wait for permission. it’s only polite that way. “ the man paused and sighed “ but then again, you worked under peter for such a long time, you must’ve picked up on his easy-going personality. “
what was wrong with being easy-going and not drawing a bold boss-employee line in the workplace?! hyungwon hated this guy more and more with each passing second.
“ you quit your job. how can i know you’re not here just to leak info? “ the suggestion was as clear as day. that he was there to spy.
“ hoseok. “ Mr. Son called with a warning tone.
“ what? it’s happened before, hasn’t it? “ the man’s eyes didn’t let him breathe with the constant cold-stare.
“ i..i’m not here to leak information, sir. i’m turning 30 soon and figured i’d need a job that pays more. your company is quite legendary and when i saw the opportunity i went for it. “ it was only the truth.
The CEO kept looking at him for a while. “ you should know that with more salary comes more work. this job will consume your life. as you said, you’re turning 30 and you may wanna build a family soon. but with this job, you won’t have the time to. are you sure you’re okay with that? we don’t wanna change assistants again after a year or so. our contract will be set for 5 years. “ his tone was rather calm and completely opposite to how wary his eyes were of hyungwon. this man was seriously doubting he was some kind of an info stealer, wasn’t he?
“ i’m aware of all that, sir. i don’t have any problems with a 5-year contract. “ don’t you? he did. especially when it was with a company that had a psychopath as its boss but he needed to do it in order to save up for his dream. aka traveling around the world without worry once he retired. hyungwon was sure he was gonna regret this but after a long intimidating talk with Mr. Lee, one that was more like an investigation than a talk to hire an assistant, he signed the papers. it was a temporary contract for three months but it was still gonna be three long months of being crushed under those dark eyes and the apparent indifference of the other ceo. and even then, it would only be the start of the next 5 miserable years of his life. he missed his previous job already.
scary wontokki anyone? :D
it happens so often that i think i've written something before or have read it somewhere. my deja vu case is no joke. i just hope i never write something i've read somewhere in my works subconsciously..