Jaehyun gasped in surprise, and in the process, dropping an empty glass he's holding. The sound of glass hitting the marble floor and shattered made the room suddenly turned silent.
Jaehyun froze, his huge eyes scanned the room. All of his coworkers stopped whatever they were doing and stared at him instead. His eyes stopped at the man standing in front of the office room.
The expression made his blood ran cold.
"Oh no," He heard a whisper, it's Seungmin judging from the voice.
Jaehyun gaped and could only stare when the handsome man in neat suit marched to him. The other staffs had resumed their work although from time to time they would still send a glance. It's not like it only had happened for 2 or 3 times, but this time the boss sounded angrier than usual.
"Jaehyun-sshi," The handsome man stopped right in front of him and growled, furiously waving a stained cream square napkin. "Explain what is this."
Jaehyun's eyes widened at the red blotch on the napkin. Where did he get that? He had made sure to-
"I'm very sorry, Mr. Kim," He bowed his head repeatedly. "I accidentally spilled red wine when I cleaned up yesterday."
"Accidentally??" The man roared, making him flinched. "It's not only one, Jaehyun-sshi! But a pile of them are all stained! Making mistakes for several times is not called accidentally, Jaehyun-sshi!"
Jaehyun bit his lips and bowing his head, that's the only thing he could do. It was indeed his mistake. He was so sure he could work fast by multitasking. He was going to take a bottle of red wine which he thought was empty along with used napkins to the back room where the washing machine and trash bin were. The wine spilled and he thought he would just secretly took the stained napkins home and sent it to laundry. He must have left them on top of washing machine and forgot to bring it home.
Why are you so careless?? He screamed inside, repeatedly cursing himself.
"I'm- I'm very sorry, Mr. Kim. I will definitely clean them until they're as good as new."
The man's eyes bulged out. "How??"
Jaehyun stared at the owner of the restaurant he was working with huge eyes. Mr. Kim looked like he wanted to rip his hair from his head.
"I'll take it to la-"
"And now you broke a glass!" Mr. Kim screamed in front of his face and the man's eyes swept through the broken pieces of the glass and he gasped loudly. Jaehyun watched nervously as Mr. Kim crouched down and stared at the broken glass. It was a nice glass, with a gradation of grey and maroon.
Suddenly it turned quiet. Jaehyun wished the ground would open and swallow him open. It felt like hours until Mr. Kim stood up with a piece of glass. "Do you know how much it costs??"
Mr. Kim's eyes were wild. Jaehyun shook his head in fear.
"It's 300.000 won!"
Jaehyun gasped, as well as other staffs.
"Yes, gentlemen," Mr. Kim stood up, bringing a piece of the broken glass and lifted it up so all the staffs could see. "This glass is a set with the set of plates and glass, made from crystal and crafted by craftsman, only used to serve VIP customers! Talking about that we're not expecting VIP customers so why are you taking it out?"
Mr. Kim pinched his nose bridge, closing his eyes and lifted his head up. Jaehyun's heart shattered. He had always wanted to prove himself worthy to Mr. Kim, wanted to make him proud and look at him with smile, maybe patting his back and say good job.
He'd always failed. All the time.
He sniffed, tears and snot threatened to come out, but he didn't even dare to cry.
"Daeyeol-sshi!" Mr. Kim called out and soon the lanky manager came forward. "Yes, Mr. Kim."
Mr. Kim sighed heavily before he gave instruction to the manager. "Jaehyun-sshi won't serve customers today. Give him works in the backroom. Any work that won't allow him to create trouble again."
"Okay, Mr. Kim," Daeyeol nodded, and soon Mr. Kim walked briskly to his office and slammed the door.
Jaehyun wiped his tears with his hands, finally let it free after the boss disappeared. Daeyeol and other staffs immediately rushed to him.
"Shushh.. Don't cry anymore."
"It's alright, Jaehyun-ah.. You know how boss is. He won't be mad for long."
The consolation made him cry harder. His coworkers were too nice. He always created troubles, but none of them held bad feeling against him, they babied him instead. As for Mr. Kim, it's true that the man didn't hold grudge. Mr. Kim would be angry after he made mistake, but that's it. He's too good and Jaehyun felt extremely bad for disappointing him over and over.
"Sungyoon, I'll take Jaehyun to back room, please clean this up. We have to open the restaurant soon," Daeyeol instructed Sungyoon. "And you all, get back to work."
The staffs dispersed immediately, and Daeyeol led him to the back room. He's still crying, but the manager comforted him and offered him tissue.
"I'm a walking trouble," He whined between his cry. "I'm so useless, hyung."
"Everybody makes mistakes, Jaehyun-ah," Daeyeol told him in soothing voice.
"But not as often as me," He said. And it's true. It's a miracle that Mr. Kim hadn't fired him yet.
"You're a bit clumsy," Daeyeol admitted, "But you're definitely not useless. You're one of the most diligent and determined worker I've ever seen in my whole career."
Jaehyun looked up to the manager with glassy eyes, finding the older wan was looking at him back with gentle face.
"Now wipe your tears and wash your face. You're sweeping the floor, and after that, go to the kitchen, help Donghyun sorting the ingredients."
Jaehyun sniffed one more time but nodded. Daeyeol smiled and patted his head. "Good boy."
Jaehyun was well aware that the only reason Mr. Kim kept him employed was because the man pitied him. Mr. Kim knew that he's a broke fresh graduate who couldn't find a job and had to take care of his sick father. Although he had brought loss to the restaurant because of his clumsiness, Mr. Kim still kept his job, gave him salary as scheduled, not too late, not too early. Sometimes he still got bonus too when there were huge profit. That's how great Mr. Kim was.
He didn't deserve Mr. Kim.
And he's terribly sorry for lying to the man.
He's not a broke student. In fact, his father was the high up executive and major stock holder in a big company while his mother owned a famous beauty salon. He's a chaebol who had just graduated from university in America, the only heir of his parents' wealth. And it's not that nobody want to employ him, it's just he hadn't applied for any job. His father was not really sick. He just constipation from time to time.
He lied because he thought it would be weird if Mr. Kim know a chaebol applied to work as a waiter.
The truth was, he fell in love with Mr. Kim at the first sight that he's willing to do anything to get close to him, including being a waiter and lying about his background.
It was all started from a few days after his graduation from university, after he moved back to Seoul. His parents brought him to attend a colleague's party. He didn't want to go, he hated that kind of parties and there's no one he knew would be there. But of course as an obedient son he couldn't refuse his parents. Thankfully his friend Bomin had been dragged to the party by his parents as well.
That's when he saw Mr. Kim for the first time. The man stood out because of his young and handsome face among the old businessmen. He openly stared, thankfully the man didn't notice, for the whole night. As he watched the man, the more he's smitten. Not only he's handsome but Mr. Kim was also act like a gentleman. He was polite, didn't mingle much, but when some people approached him, he talked well and the others seemed to enjoy his companion.
"Bomin-ah," He hotly tugged Bomin's shirt. "Bomin-ah."
"Ah, hyung.. Why?" Bomin whined because his cake almost fell to the floor because of his frantic tugging.
They're both standing in one corner of the room, chatting while eating cakes. As soon as their parents let them go, they found each other and decided to stay away from the crowd.
He ignored the complain. "Who is that man?"
Bomin followed his gaze. "Who? The bald one? It's Mr. Park, the owner of-"
"No, not that old man. The young man beside him, grey suit and hair brushed up."
"Oh. That's Kim Jibeom."
"Yeah, what about him?"
"Even his name is pretty," Jaehyun muttered with a smile.
Bomin shot him a knowing glance. "You like him?"
"Yeah," Jaehyun replied breathlessly just as Jibeom laughed politely at someone's joke. "He's perfect."
"Ew," Bomin pushed his face with his large palm. "Stop giving him creepy stare."
Jaehyun swatted Bomin's hands away. "Bomin-ah, what do you know about him?" He turned to his friend enthusiastically. Bomin was a social butterfly, he knew almost everyone. He should make use of Bomin's knowledge to dig more about Kim Jibeom.
Bomin made a show by popping a slice of strawberry shortcake into his mouth and dragged the fork through his lips before answering. "He's the second son of Kim Beomjoo, you know the department store tycoon. 27 years old. He's not really interested in social life, interested in culinary so instead of inheriting his father's business, he opened a high class Korean restaurant in Gangnam. So you know Muhwadang? That's his restaurant."
"Muhwadang? Really?" Jaehyun gasped. "The food is awesome!"
"You've been there?"
"Yes! Only once though. Maybe a year ago? But I didn't see him! You have to tried their spicy stir fried galbi, it's super delicious!"
Bomin only chuckled. "I can imagine you'll be a frequent customer anytime soon."
Jaehyun kept quiet as if he had inner debate, making Bomin stared at him questioningly. "Tell me what are you thinking."
Jaehyun frowned. "Even if I come there, it doesn't guarantee I'll see him. And if I go too often, he might think I'm a creeper."
Bomin pursed his lips. "Well, you're right. So, what are you waiting for?" The younger nudged Jaehyun with his elbow.
"What?" Jaehyun nudged Bomin back.
"Go to him. This is your chance to introduce himself."
Jaehyun's eyes grew wide. "I can't just go to him and introduce myself!"
"What's wrong with that?" Bomin shrugged his shoulders. "Or you can just pretend to bump into him and drop a cake to your clothes."
"I can't!" Jaehyun looked scandalized. "I love this shirt! It's expensive!"
Bomin rolled his eyes. "Then drop the cake to him."
"Are you crazy? It'll leave bad impression!"
"Then drop it to the floor!"
"He'll think I'm clumsy!"
Bomin eyed him wearily. "Then do whatever you like, I'm wasting my saliva talking to you."
Jaehyun pouted. "What should I do."
Watching at the other man's dejected face, Bomin sighed. "I heard he's very dedicated to his restaurant so I think the best way to get close to him is through the restaurant. Or food."
"I can't think of anything."
"Just go have meal in the restaurant, maybe you'll get a chance to talk to him."
Throwing a longing gaze to Jibeom, Jaehyun sighed. "Yeah, maybe I should."
Jaehyun went to Muhwadang a few days later. He didn't think he would go this far. He had never been so interested in someone in his entire life. There were plenty of good looking young man out there, but this Kim Jibeom had the x factor that made him shine among the rest. He could feel it in his bone. Him owning a restaurant that served the best spicy stir fried galbi was another plus point.
Muhwadang stood tall and proud in the street of Gangnam. Matching with the Korean food they served, the building was in the form of hanok, contrast to the modern buildings around them. In daylight it's less grand compared to night time with vibrant light decoration, but it's still pretty.
The restaurant hadn't opened yet when he arrived and he cursed himself for being too early. He should have come during lunch hour, but there he was, standing dumbly in front of a closed restaurant at 9 am. It would be better if Bomin came with him. He asked Bomin to accompany him, but he got straight out rejected.
He glanced a his watch. Still 9.20 am. He still had plenty of time until the restaurant opened. Maybe walking around and shop around the area would be a great choice while waiting the opening time.
"Good morning, are you coming for interview?"
Jaehyun whipped his head in surprise. There, in front of the restaurant's main door, a petite guy stood with bright smile. Jaehyun's first impression towards the guy was petite, cute, and his canine teeth stood out when he smiled. He tilted his head in confusion.
The man laughed. "You're funny. You're here for job interview right?" He pointed at a sheet of paper pasted on the board beside the door. He quickly scanned the job vacancy announcement. Basically they're looking for a waiter and there would be interview starting from 10 that day. Jaehyun's eyes widened.
"Oh.. Wait, you mis-"
"Come on," The man pulled him in. "I saw you. You've been lurking in front of the door since minutes ago. The interview starts at 10, but Mr. Kim, he's the owner, had arrived since 8. I'm sure he'll be happy to do interview now. You might get plus point since you've come early."
The man was sure talkative but what struck him the most was the mention of the owner of the restaurant.
Oh my god
"The-the owner will do the interview?" He tugged the man's hand and sputtered.
The petite man chuckled. "Don't be nervous, Mr. Kim is a good guy."
Jaehyun bit his lips to hide his smile. Even his employee said he's a good guy. He admired Kim Jibeom more.
"Seungmin, who is there?"
A handsome man with brownish hair wearing apron, scanning him from head to toe.
"Ah Sungyoon hyung, he comes for interview."
Jaehgun gasped, suddenly realized the situation he's now. "Wait- I'm not-"
"Interview?" Sungyoon raised his brows. "He doesn't dress like he's going to have interview."
Both him and Seungmin looked down at his clothes and Jaehyun's cheeks reddened. He indeed didn't dress properly for a job interview especially for interview in a luxurious restaurant like this. He dressed neatly since he hoped he would bump into Kim Jibeom, but a ripped jeans and stylish shirt plus a pair for sandals were definitely not a standard job interview dress code.
"You're right," Seungmin smiled. "But that's fine, he's neat, that's the most important right? I'll take him to Mr. Kim."
Sungyoon glanced at the clock. "But it's not the interview time yet."
"You know Mr. Kim won't mind-"
"Erhm, guys," Jaehyun chuckled nervously. "There might be misunderstanding I actually-"
"What happened here?"
Another new voice interrupted him. All of them turned their heads to the source of the voice.
Jaehyun's breath hitched.
Kim Jibeom looked even more attractive in semi formal attire. The baby blue button up blouse with sleeves rolled up looked good on him. And his pants were tight fitting, showing his slim but toned thigh. He's gorgeous.
"Mr. Kim!" Seungmin's voice woke him out from his daze. "He comes for interview."
Jaehyun froze as Kim Jibeom stared at him properly for the first time. His stomach flipped funnily when their eyes met. He felt like he was going to pass out.
"Oh? So early."
The comment was short, but Jaehyun blushed at the man's deep voice. It's sexy. However, his blush deepened when Kim Jibeom's eyes travelled down to his clothes. He should have worn other clothes, a more presentable one.
"Are you available for interview right now Mr. Kim?"
Kim Jibeom shrugged. "Sure," Once again directing his eyes to Jaehyun. "Please come with me."
Seungmin winked and pushed him gently.
It was nerve wrecking to be alone in secluded office together with Kim Jibeom. Especially since there's a misunderstanding he had to clear. The guy outside, the Seungmin guy, was so nice and excited and he didn't have a heart to tell him that he's wrong, he didn't come for interview. So he thought he'll just tell Kim Jibeom.
"I assume you bring your CV?" Jibeom said once they settled on the chair, opposite to each other.
Jaehyun squirmed. "Ah that, actually, Mr. Kim.. I.."
"You don't bring your CV?" Kim Jibeom raised his brows.
"Uhmm. Yeah. The case is-"
"Tell me, what's your name? How old are you?" The restaurant owner cut him off.
"Um.. I'm Bong Jaehyun, 22 years old."
Jibeom nodded. "I'm Kim Jibeom, the owner of this restaurant."
Jaehyun quickly covered his mouth with his palm. "N.. No.. I didn't say anything," He said in panic.
There's a small smile on Kim Jibeom's voice, Jaehyun thought he's going to faint. "You're still young. Did you attend university?
"Yeah, I did."
"Have you graduated?"
"What major did you study?"
"Oh," Jibeom folded his arms and placed it on top of the table. Jaehyun felt his whole body trembled as Kim Jibeom focused solely to him. "Then why are you applying here as a waiter? I'm sure you can have better job with your degree."
"Mr. Kim.. Actually I.."
"Do you have difficulties finding a job?" Suddenly Kim Jibeom said, his face frowned in sympathy.
"You know I've interviewed a couple of candidates, they're university graduates too. They mostly complained they can't find a job so they resorted to work as a waiter, convenience store employee, etcetera. Working life his hard especially nowadays it's getting competitive."
Jaehyun could only stare at the man, gaping.
"You see, I'm in dire need for 1 or 2 people right now. The business is good lately and we're short of people. I have standard payment for newbies here, maybe it won't as high as regular office worker, but I will give bonus to employees who work well, and also when the business is good. If you're really interested, I offer a 3 months of trial. Me and the manager will supervise and teach you stuffs, and after 3 months, we'll evaluate your work and decide whether you can continue to work or not. You'll get full salary during trial. We have two shifts, from 8 am to 4 pm, and 4 pm to 12 am. We open everyday, and you'll have 1 day holiday every week. For the shift rotation, we change every month."
The gear in his head was working fast. The job was actually a great opportunities to get close to Kim Jibeom. He'll get paid, and the coworker aka Seungmin was nice. The job itself sound tough, but he's jobless, it's not like he had something to do in the moment. Besides, what's so tough with being a waiter? He just needs to ask for order and delivers the food to customers.
"So are you interested? If you are, you can start tomorrow."
Suddenly his smile widened. If he gets the job he could see Kim Jibeom almost everyday!
"Yes, I'm interested in this job."
Apparently the job wasn't easy at all. Jibeom hired 2 people that day, him and a boy around his age named Kim Donghyun. The manager, a lanky man with warm smile called Lee Daeyeol gave both of them a short briefing about their jobs and gave them timetable.
The first day of training, they weren't tasked to meet customers yet. Instead, Daeyeol gave them 5 days to memorize the menus, alongside with description of the food and the ingredients. They also had to know about various kind of teas and wines. Their initial job was to clean and arrange utensils on the table, and that included washing tablecloths and napkins, also helping to wash and dry the dishes.
Bomin was right when he said Kim Jibeom was very dedicated to his restaurant. The man, although was a rich owner, really supervise them, lurking here and there, trying to keep an eye to everything so that everything went perfectly as it should be. He's not a scary man though, in fact, if he had to say the truth, Kim Jibeom was a very nice boss. He guided his employees gently and he's very friendly although strict. Jaehyun tried so hard not to make heart eyes every time he saw the boss.
He needed to be careful though. Since it's a high class restaurant, he might bump into his parents' friends who could recognize him. He had spent so many years in America, starting from middle school ao he didn't really know his father's friends, but just to be safe, he dyed his hair back to black and wore glasses. Bomin said he looked lame, but he's satisfied with his look. He looked like a nerd, but a cute one.
Everything was good. Jaehyun loved his job so much. It was tiring and he had to behave all the time, his coworkers were all nice and on top of it, he got to meet Kim Jibeom everyday. The only worrisome thing was that Jaehyun was born with gold spoon and he had no experience doing labor work at all.
Not to mention he's super clumsy and forgetful.
Everybody stopped and stared.
Jaehyun felt like his body was splash by cold water as he saw the shattered bowl on the floor.
He looked up and his heart fell. Daeyeol rushed to him, and behind him, Jibeom came as well, his face was stoned.
"I'm sorry," He bowed repeatedly. "The bowl slipped from my hand. I'm very sorry."
He heard Daeyeol sighed. "Alright. Quick clean this up, I'll apologize to customers."
Nervously, Jaehyun nodded and took a broom from store room. But before he could leave, Jibeom stopped him. "Jaehyun-sshi, meet me in my office after work hour ends."
Jaehyun couldn't concentrate during his remaining shift. It's only been 1 month working there, but he had made mistakes. Jibeom had never asked him to come to his office. Usually when he made mistake, Daeyeol would be the one in charge to reprimand him. What's the difference this time? Would he fire him?
"Stay focus," Sungyoon said quietly as he stood on the corner, waiting in case customers need him. It's quite late and they'll close within an hour, so there weren't many customers left.
Jaehyun bit his lips and nodded. "Do you think Mr. Kim will fire me, hyung?"
Sungyoon let out a small smile. "I don't think so. Don't worry. He won't fire you just because you broke a bowl."
"But.. I've made other mistakes before."
Like forgot to close the kitchen door that the smell and fog came out to the main dining area. There are time he forgot to put utensils on the table, and where he dropped the menu book.
"Everybody makes mistakes," Sungyoon said lightly but it made Jaehyun's shoulders sagged. "You need to focus more. Don't make more mistakes."
Despite the strict words, Sungyoon patted him on his back and offered him a comforting smile. He wanted to cry. Not only he liked his boss, but his coworkers were very nice. Being an only child, he had always loved to have friends. His coworkers were all nice, including Donghyun, the fellow intern who worked flawlessly.
After they bid the last customers goodbye, Jaehyun sighed.
Seungmin patted him. "It's going to be okay. Maybe boss will only scold you a bit."
"Maybe ask you to pay for the glass, that's the worst," Sungyoon said. "Go, the sooner the better."
"Come, Jaehyun-ah," Daeyeol patted his back. He had lost count how many times he got a pat on his back.
Ah, he wanted to give each of them a hug.
"Thanks, hyung," He said without energy. "Please wish me luck."
Wish shaky hand, he knocked on the door and immediately heard Jibeom's voice from behind the door.
He was literally shaking. "Mr. Kim?"
Jibeom looked up from his piles of documents and signaling him to come in. "Please sit down."
Jaehyun sat obediently, sweating a bucket.
"Bong Jaehyun," Jibeom called his name and sighed. Jaehyun cringed.
Jibeom leaned back on his working chair, both elbow rested on the arm sets. His eyes were eyeing him sharp like a hawk.
"You see," Jibeom rubbed his temples. "I have a good feeling about you."
"I know a good person when I see one," Jibeom continued. "And I think you're a good guy, and I see you work very hard. But.."
Jaehyun's heart started to race again. But what?
"It's unfortunate that you often makes mistakes. I took note of that, for evaluation, and I noticed that within 1 month, you've made many mistakes and I don't think it would give you benefit, that is if you wanted to work here for the long run."
Jaehyun immediately stood up and bowed 90 degrees. "Mr. Kim, I'm sorry. I can be clumsy sometimes but I'll work harder, I promise."
Kim Jibeom raised his brows. "Please sit down."
Biting his lips, Jaehyun sat down again. "I will pay for the broken bowl, Mr. Kim, I'll even do more work, please don't fire me."
Jibeom pursed his lips. "I won't ask you for compensation for the broken bowl this time, but it's business. I have to calculate customer's satisfaction and profit, and I can't always let mistakes slide-"
"I'll be more careful next time, Mr. Kim, I promise."
When he looked up again, he saw Kim Jibeom with a small smile. His heart skipped a beat.
How could his boss still smiled to him after all the mistakes he had made? Everyday Kim Jibeom never failed to make him fall deeper and deeper.
"I'll keep your promise. Do well, Jaehyun-sshi. I'll look forward to your improvement."
With a twinkling eyes, Jaehyun smiled wide. "Of course, Mr. Kim! You can count on me!"
"You're a fool."
"Shut up. Aw!"
Bomin grinned at Jaehyun's pained expression.
"What are you doing??" Jaehyun turned his head and glared at the younger man.
Bomin shrugged. "Give you a massage?"
Jaehyun groaned while he shifted from his position of lying on his stomach on the bed to sit down. His waist was killing him. To his irritation, Bomin was smiling innocently.
"I asked you to put heat patch on my back, not massaging me!" He fumed.
Bomin only chuckled and threw his shirt to his face. He grumbled and carefully put his clothes.
"The things you do for Kim Jibeom," The younger mused. "I admire you. If only you have same energy to study, you must have become president right now."
"I can become a president if I want to," He snapped at Bomin who didn't even listen to him.
"What do you see in him?" Bomin plopped himself on the bed, using his hands as pillow. "He's good looking but I still can't believe you'll do things to this extent for him."
"I can't believe myself," Jaehyun pondered, his lips formed a smile as he's thinking about the older man. "At first I liked him because he's handsome, and the has certain aura that made me captivated. But as I get to know him, he's not only handsome, but polite and kind. He also donates a lot, you know. He's a saint, Bomin-ah. I like him so much.. I.. I think I've fallen in love with him."
"Ppfttt." Bomin scoffed and got pillow thrown at him.
"Be serious," Jaehyun huffed. "I like Kim Jibeom. He's everything I've ever wanted."
Bomin stared at him silently. "You're lucky your parents are busy and they believe in your lies."
It's true. And he's lucky his parents right away believed him when he said he's trying to live independently and conduct busineness research and allowed him to move to a small apartment to live on his own. They believed him so much because he had been a good boy and never got into troubles so far. He kind of feel guilty for abusing their trust.
"Yeah, I will buy flowers for them this weekend," He thought deeply, but suddenly his expression brightened. "You know it feels amazing when I received my salary for the first time ever! It's not much, but I sweat blood and tears for this money. And most of all it's from Kim Jibeom."
"Good for you," Bomin said dryly. "But you can't work there forever, you know. Your parents or Kim Jibeom would know sooner or later."
Jaehyun's mood turned sour. "I'll think about that later," He dismissed the subject. "I'll just need to worry about the trial. I should work hard so they'll accept me as permanent staff."
Bomin sighed. He didn't have good feeling about this.
A habit is a habit.
A character is a character.
It couldn't be easily changed no matter how hard he tried.
Jaehyun tried his best, but unfortunately his best wasn't enough. It was the 2nd month in his waiter job when he tripped on his own legs and dropped his food, it splattered to a customer's clothes. Jibeom called him to his room right after they apologized to the customer and offered for paying the laundry.
"This is the 6th time this month, Jaehyun-sshi," Jibeom's voice was strained hard. Jaehyun was cowering in the middle of the room while his boss paced restlessly. "And I didn't count of small mistakes like dropping fork or napkins. This is too much."
Jaehyun let out a shaky breath. No. No.
"I'm sorry, Jaehyun-sshi, I don't think I can longer-"
"No!!" Jaehyun shrieked. He couldn't be fired. He wanted to do this job. He couldn't let Jibeom fire him, they'll separate with Jibeom had a bad image on him forever. He had his pride to hold too. At the moment he was determined he would do everything to keep his job.
"Mr. Kim, please. I… I need this job. I promise I'll do better, please don't fire me."
Jibeom pinched the bridge of his nose and scrunched his eyes. "I've given you chances, Jaehyun-sshi. Countless of chances, too many chances actually. The restaurant's reputation is at stake, and I can't just always give compensation money. This is business, not charity."
Kim Jibeom was well known among the staffs of his charity. They knew him donating money to orphanage, and sometimes delivered packed food for the children. He's a very kind man and couldn't stand to see unfortunate child. That's why when the word "charity" came out from his boss' mouth, Jaehyun's mouth acted without he could think clearly.
"I need this job, Mr. Kim. I badly need money for.. For.." His mind was blank. Why did he need money for?
Jibeom eyed him curiously. "For what?" The man stepped closer while Jaehyun stepped back.
Think, Jaehyun, think.
"My father is sick. He's very sick."
Jaehyun sucked a deep breath, momentary in trace, confused himself how he could easily spit lies like he's saying the truth. His hands were cold.
No, he didn't mean it.
The atmosphere was suddenly tense. The silence was deafening. Jaehyun wondered whether he should correct himself or just went with the flow.
He shouldn't have lied!
"Is it true?" Jibeom's annoyed expression morphed into sympathy. Jaehyun gulped. Kim Jibeom had showed signs of falling in his trap. Jibeom's figure was tense, he was frowning seriously. What would happen if he suddenly laugh and say "Tada! I'm just joking!"
Was it too late? Jaehyun didn't know what possessed him. "Y-yes."
"What happened to him?"
"Uh.. He's… " He stuttered. I'm sorry, father. "It's.. colon cancer."
Jibeom gasped. Jaehyun clenched his fist, looking at the ground. Suddenly he was washed with regret and shame. His eyes started to prickle. God, he shouldn't have done this. What if karma hit him? What if his father got cancer for real?
"I.. I'm sorry.. I," He stuttered as he stepped back. He couldn't stand this. He needed to go away as soon as possible
But before he could run, Jibeom caught his arm.
Jaehyun yelped, his heart was about to break free from his rib cage from how fast it's beating. He thought he's going to faint. He's so scared. "I'll leave-"
"Keep working here," Jibeom said, making Jaehyun instantly gaped.
No. He said to himself. He needed to go to save himself from trouble in the future. But his knees buckled as Jibeom stood so close. He could smell the fresh cologne, and the tight grip on his arm tingled.
He loved his man so much.
"I…" He breathed out, caught in dilemma.
"I want you to stay."
His eyes widened. "Mr. Kim.."
Although he didn't deserve it, how could he reject that?
He stayed. He was determined to work better.
The desire to prove himself, and to make it up for the guilt that constantly nagging him for abusing Kim Jibeom's trust and kindness was his driving force. Not seldom he came before his shift started and helped with some works, and sometimes he skipped meal time and work instead. The restaurant provided the workers with delicious meal and snacks, and although he enjoyed it, Jaehyun realized he had gotten fatter, his chubby cheeks were back. Doing some works distracted him from salivating the meal.
He got praise from Kim Jibeom, but his clumsiness was still there. He could tell his boss was torn between pitying him and annoyed at him because of his clumsiness. Just a few days ago he took a wrong order and made a scary looking customer threw a fit. Another mistake he made was forgot to refill soap in the bathroom and left cleaning tools in the bathroom when he had cleaning, resulting a complain from another customer. It was hard for him to keep up especially when the restaurant was packed and there were so many things to do at once.
Misfortunes had never left his side. No wonder Kim Jibeom was super pissed when he broke the expensive glass. When he reflected back to that scene, he could still feel the chill. He had never seen that man that angry.
Jaehyun stared at the box filled expensive sets of plates and glasses on his hands, identical to the one he broke the other day. Kim Jibeom didn't lie that they were expensive. What should they use such an expensive glassware anyway?
After looking around, he finally found the exact set of glassware in department store, and immediately bought it. His boss had never asked him to pay back for the damage he had caused, and it made himself felt bad. At least he had to pay for this expensive things he had broken.
His heart hurt. He hated hinself from being so clumsy and incompetent. He knew Kim Jibeom employed him out of pity, and he saw how frustrated the boss was because of him but tried to hold back. Jaehyun felt like he wanted to cry.
The restaurant was empty when he came early in the morning. Sungyoon was supposed to open the restaurant, but the man was probably in the kitchen. He knew Jibeom had arrived, his car was parked outside. The timing was good. He took a deep breath and knocked on the boss' office.
Taking another deep breath, Jaehyun opened the door and walked in. Jibeom's face was stoic. Jaehyun thought the man was probably still annoyed at him.
Wordlessly, he placed the box on the empty space on the table. "I'm sorry once again for my mistake a few days ago, Mr. Kim. I.. Please accept this."
Kim Jibeom raised his brows. "What's that?"
Jaehyun kept quiet, watching silently as his boss peeked inside the plastic bag. His big eyes widened even more after he saw what's inside. With careful but hurried movement, he took out the box and opened it. Beautiful shining set of glassware were placed neatly in it.
"The sell ot in sets," Jaehyun murmured while nervously pushed the glasses on his nose. "But I think it's alright since there's the glass-"
"How did you pay for this?"
He's supposed to be broke.
The intensity of Jibeom's stare was frightening. "I… I have some savings."
That was true, he didn't lie.
Jibeom rubbed his forehead, the other hand was placed on his waist. The man sighed loudly. Jaehyun was confused and scared. Why didn't Jibeom look happy?
"You should keep your money for your father."
Jaehyun was sure his eyes were bulging out.
"Cancer treatment is not cheap and your salary is not that high. I didn't even ask you to pay for the glass."
Kim Jibeom even looked frustrated of himself. The waiter's heart was shaking. Kim Jibeom was an angel. He's too good to be true.
"Listen.. I had a bad day, the worst day ever. My mother was.. No, forget that. The point is, I was frustrated about something and I saw the napkins and the glass, and I kind of blew out and took it out on you. I'm sorry."
Jaehyun shook his head wildly. "I deserve it, Mr. Kim. You don't have to apologize."
"I should scold you," Jibeom said. "But I shouldn't yell at you in front of the others." The restaurant owner suddenly fumbled on his desk, and took out a few 50.000 bills. "Here. Take this."
Jaehyun was taken aback. "No.. Mr. Kim.. I can't-"
"Just take it," Jibeom took his hand and put the money. "No protest, Bong Jaehyun."
"But Mr. Kim. It's all my fault, I supposed to pay for it," He cried out. That was not his intention to get refund.
"Just.." Jibeom sighed deeply. "Just be careful next time okay."
"Mr. Kim, please don't do this. I feel really bad, let me pay for this," He stretched out his hand to give the money back. He was in the verge of crying. He didn't feel good, he had created trouble, he wanted to pay for the consequences. Kim Jibeom was too good, it's making him uncomfortable.
Jibeom's face softened. He gently pushed the money away. "You need it more than me, Jaehyun-sshi. And I thank you for your thoughtfulness."
Jaehyun cried for real in front of his boss.
Jaehyun sighed for the nth time that day. His mood was bad, not even a new set of pretty clothes his mother randomly sent to him could cheer his foul mood. He'd been surrounded by thick dark cloud ever since the day Kim Jibeom 'rejected' the glassware he bought.
It felt so awful to think that he brought misfortune to someone he liked. At this rate, he was sure Kim Jibeom hated him. It's just his heart was too pure to show hatred towards other human.
Not only Kim Jibeom, he had brought misfortune to his coworkers too.
Then what's the point of all this?
"Good night, hyung." He bid goodbye to Daeyeol who was in charge of closing the restaurant.
The man ruffled his hair and smiled. "Don't be sad anymore Jaehyun-ah. We're all sad watching you like this."
Jaehyun's lips quivered. He really didn't deserve his coworkers. "I'm sorry for always troubling you, hyung."
"We all make mistakes," Daeyeol smiled again. "Don't worry about it, yeah? We get your back."
"Hyung.." His voice cracked, making Daeyeol laughed.
"Don't give me that look-"
A loud ringtone interrupted them. Daeyeol scrambled to take his phone from his pocket and answered it immediately.
"What? Now? But.. Okay okay. Yes, I'll be there soon. Wait for me."
The manager ended the call and eyed the younger man worriedly. "I have to go somewhere. Are you alright on your own?"
Jaehyun smiled sweetly and pushed the manager gently. "I've told you many times I'm fine walking on my own hyung. Go, quickly."
"This baby," Daeyeol pinched his cheeks. "Walk safely. See you tomorrow!"
Jaehyun waved and after Daeyeol was far away, he sighed. He still remembered how his coworkers offered to collect money and buy the expensive glass he broke. He'd only been there for 3 months and they're already like a family. They're so sincere and here he was, lying to them.
Guilt, frustration and exhaustion mixed into one. As his eyes started to produce tears, he took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.
The cold chilly night made him feel sentimental. It made him question his sanity. He remembered what Bomin said. The things he did for Kim Jibeom. Was it even worth something? For Kim Jibeom, he's just a pitiful, troublemaker employee.
If not because of Kim Jibeom, he'll probably live in his huge house, no need to do labor work, maybe he'll work behind a desk. He'll be ordering people, not being ordered. He stared at his hands. They're usually plump and soft, now they're dry and chapped.
He jolted and immediately wore his glasses. "Mr. Kim?"
Jibeom looked around. "Why haven't you gone home yet? Where's Daeyeol-sshi?"
"We've just closed the restaurant. Daeyeol hyung went home just now," Jaehyun shuffled his feet awkwardly, totally didn't expect to meet his boss at this hour. "Mr. Kim, what are you doing here?"
"I left something important," Jibeom said, his eyes were scrutinizing his employee. "Are you okay? Were you crying?"
Jaehyun nervously chuckled while casting his eyes down. "No, Mr. Kim. It's just very cold, my tears come out when I'm cold."
For a while his boss stood quietly. "Wait here," The man instructed.
He didn't get to finish his sentence as Jibeom had already unlocked the door and went in. Jaehyun debated whether he had heart right or not. Why would Kim Jibeom ask him to wait? Did he need something?"
Jibeom came out just around 2 minutes later, clutching a small pile of files and locked the door. Jaehyun silently admired the boss' appearance. It was midnight but Jibeom still looked handsome. He's even more handsome with casual outfit, consisted of sweatshirt, blue jeans and a coat.
"Come on, I'll send you home."
If his heart could beat faster that that, Jaehyun thought he'll get heart attack. Did he hear right?
"W-Why?" He stuttered.
Jibeom chuckled. "It's midnight and it's cold and I have heater in the car."
It dawned upon him. He couldn't let Jibeom send him home. He might have moved to a small apartment, but it's still in expensive area.
"I.. I can walk. It's not that far."
"I don't mind. Really," Jibeom nudged him towards forward. "My car is over there."
"Uhh.. My house is far.."
"It's midnight, the road is empty, no problem."
"Jaehyun-sshi, I mean no harm."
It's funny, he almost laughed. Of course he knew Kim Jibeom meant no harm. He gave in, like always.
"Alright, if it's okay for you, Mr. Kim. Thank you."
It was silent in the car, Jaehyun didn't dare to say a word. It's weird, he's supposed to be floating in happiness. He's been wanting this, to be close with Kim Jibeom. But now, he had chance but after the mishaps, he felt like he didn't have confidence.
"So, where do you live?"
"J-just please drop me off in Jongno Station."
"I can drive you to your house."
"Uh.. The road is a bit narrow," He lied. Fortunately Jibeom nodded.
"I heard you put the napkins into laundry."
Jaehyun breathed out. He wished his boss won't talk about it.
"They can make the stains go away," He mumbled, sinking himself in his oversized coat.
"Laundry is expensive. I didn't ask you to put it into laundry."
"Please don't pay me back," He quickly said. "It's my fault anyway."
Jibeom huffed. "Please be careful next time. You work to earn money, not to spend money."
He earned money, even after he had to pay laundry and buy expensive glassware. It's because he hadn't touched his salary at all. The money he had in his saving was more than enough to live. But it made him think. If only he didn't have rich parents, what would he end up be? He wasn't that good in studying.
He was even sucks in doing mundane daily tasks.
He didn't even realized they'd stopped in front of the station when his boss called him. "Oh.. I'm sorry I'm.. I'll get off now. Thank you for the ride, Mr. Kim."
Jaehyun hesitantly looked at the older man, waiting.
"Is your father okay?"
Jaehyun was taken aback by the sudden question. "Y-yeah. He's okay."
Jibeom's face relaxed. "Oh. That's good. I just noticed you're not as cheerful as usual, so I kind of worried."
Jaehyun really didn't want to hang his hope high. He knew Kim Jibeom was kind in nature, he's always kind towards everyone. But the man had always made him feel loved. He bit his lips to stop himself from grinning too hard. "Everything is fine, Mr. Kim. I guess I'm just tired."
Jibeom nodded again. "Alright. Rest well. I'll see you on Monday."
Jaehyun nodded and went out from the car. He awkwardly waved, and stood there watching the car moved and finally disappeared.
"You makes me go crazy," He sighed heavily.
"Bomin-ah," He lay on his stomach, cheeks squeezed on the pillow.
He saw Bomin leant on the headboard, casually reading comic books. For a while, he silently watching the younger man. Ever since he moved out, his apartment had became a headquarter for him and Bomin. The younger stopped by a lot and sometimes slept there.
Bomin's hair was messy, but he looked good as always. He kind of envy Bomin. He's handsome, charming, smart and tall, totally a total package. They're just 1 year apart, but Bomin had been scouted to be a model during high school and now he'd been so successful and getting lots of love calls from drama production companies and CFs.
Suddenly Jaehyun felt worthless.
"Hyung," Bomin waved his comic book in front of his face. "Why did you call me."
Jaehyun huffed. "Nothing," He said.
"Is it about work? Why? Did you break something again?"
Jaehyun glared at the younger. "None of your business."
Bomin put his comic down and faced the older man properly. "Seriously, when will you stop?"
Bomin's eyes widened in alarm. "Really?"
Jaehyun sighed. "I only brought problems, but Kim Jibeom is always nice. I feel bad. I can't even face him now. But if I quit, I won't be able to see him anymore."
The younger man looked at Jaehyun in sympathy. "You know, Kim Jibeom is not the only man in the world."
Jaehyun buried his entire face to the pillow. "I know."
"Just quit," Bomin said carefully. "I'll introduce you to someone."
Jaehyun pondered for a while. He knew sooner or later he needed to quit anyway. Kim Jibeom won't like someone like him. Even if he did, his lies would be an obstacle. He couldn't imagine if his lies got revealed.
But before he quit, he at least wanted Kim Jibeom to remember good things in him. He sat down on the bed. "Bomin-ah, are you free today?"
"Yeah, why? Do you want to introduce you to my friend? Today?"
Jaehyun shook his head. "Help me bake something."
He had heard that line for many times. Usually it's when Kim Jibeom called him after he made mistake. But this time, it's his initiative to come. He was on the late shift that day. The restaurant still closed for 1 hour rest. He gripped the small box tight and opened the door.
"Oh, Jaehyun-sshi, what's up?"
He strode quickly and put the small pretty baby blue polkadot box on Jibeom's table. Jibeom's eyes widened in alarm.
"What is this?"
Jaehyun shyly fiddled with his fingers. "I made that, Mr. Kim. I hope you like it."
Jibeom looked surprised. He curiously opened the box, and when he saw what's inside, his mouth gaped a little.
"It's a thank you gift," Jaehyun quickly said. "I've made a lot of mistakes but you are always so kind, and keep me for this job. I also made for the others since they're always helping me."
The smile on Kim Jibeom's face made him melted. He couldn't remember when Kim Jibeom smiled like that to him.
"Thank you so much, Jaehyun-sshi. I don't know you can bake! It's pretty and looks delicious."
"I get help from a friend," Jaehyun got flustered. "And it's actually my first time baking. I hope it's alright."
Jibeom's mouth formed an O shape. "It looks good visually, for a beginner."
Then to his horror, Jibeom the small spoon from his cup of tea, and ate the cake right in front of him. Jaehyun squirmed as Jibeom closed his eyes, munching the sweet treat.
He thought that bringing a homemade treat would make Kim Jibeom delighted. He's a food enthusiast after all. The vanilla cake wasn't the best, but it's the best among all the batches he had tried with Bomin. They're both sucks in cooking, so it's considered a miracle that they managed to make a decent cake.
"Did you put lemon on it?" Jibeom asked, taking another spoon of cake.
Jaehyun was elated. Kim Jibeom took the second bite!
"Y-yes! I put a bit of lemon juice and lemon zest in the batter."
"This.. is nice. You need to sieve the flour so it'll be more homogenous, and a less butter would make it less greasy. Plus it's a bit too sweet for my liking, but the fresh lemon flavor covers the sweetness." His eyes were twinkling when he looked at Jaehyun. "Good job, Jaehyun-sshi."
Jaehyun wanted to collapse. He knew Kim Jibeom was a food enthusiast, but he had no idea the man had knowledge in cakes too. The way he understand things made him look cooler.
"T-Thank you so much, Mr. Kim. I'm happy.. I was afraid it's bad."
"It's delicious, perfect for my tea," The man smiled warmly.
Jaehyun was still floating in the air when he went out from the office. He still couldn't believe it. He still replayed Kim Jibeom's smile.
"Yo, Jaehyun, why are you smiling like that?" Donghyun tapped him curiously.
"Oh, Donghyun-ah," He greeted his coworker cheerfully. "Here, I bring some cakes for you all."
As soon as he put the cake box on the kitchen table, his coworkers were crowding around it. Jaehyun watched in glee as his coworkers snatched a slice each and ate it with vigour. His smile widened and there's great satisfaction when he received praise.
In the middle of ruckus, his eyes caught someone standing on the kitchen door. He was surprised to find Kim Jibeom quietly stood there, watching his employees devouring cakes. His eyes were warm and small smile attached on his face.
His heart fluttered.
Kim Jibeom was the best man in the world.
He gasped when their eyes met. Then Kim Jibeom smiled at him again.
By then, he was sure he's in love.
It might be just his imagination, but Kim Jibeom had been acting so nice and caring to him lately, more than usual. He tried to shrug it off, he didn't want to think too high of himself, but it's hard to not too.
"Have you finished?"
He flinched, almost shrieked. He searched wildly around the kitchen, and found the boss leaning on the door frame.
"Mr. Kim! Why are you still here? I thought you went home this evening?"
"I came back to finish my work," The man shrugged.
Jaehyun bit his lips. He was in charge of closing today, so that meant there's only him and Kim Jibeom in the restaurant. The thought of being alone with his boss made him nervous.
"Oh," That's all he could say.
"It's past midnight, why didn't you go home?"
"I.. I was going home. But I knocked the water jug," He guiltily gestured to the mop in his hands. "I'm sorry."
Kim Jibeom shook his head but he surprisingly was smiling. "You and your clumsiness," The man mused. "I wonder how you survived all this time."
Jaehyun's face flushed. He wondered about that too, he must be lucky. To conceal his embarrassment he changed the topic instead. "Mr. Kim, you too, why do you work until late at night?"
"Because there are just a lot of things to do and I then to procrastinating a lot."
Jaehyun stiffled his laugh. Kim Jibeom was nice but he didn't make a lot of jokes. It's new to him. Besides, it's funny to think that the strict and hardworking boss actually liked to procrastinate. He imagined his boss playing games in his phone inside his office during rush hours. "Mr. Kim, you're joking right."
Jibeom smiled wider. "I might be."
Jaehyun averted his gaze and bit his lips. He's so doomed. Even making light conversation like his made his heart fluttered. He couldn't say he didn't enjoy it.
"Say," He looked up, and saw his boss cleared his throat. "Do you have anything to do next Monday?"
"Uhh.. Next Monday?"
Jibeom nodded. "Next Monday is your day off right?"
His mind was running wild. What's with next Monday? What did Kim Jibeom want from him?
"I.. I don't know. Sleep.. maybe?"
Jibeom chuckled, Jaehyun's cheeks turned warm. He should have said cleaning up his house or something. Now he sounded like a lazy bum.
Jaehyun stiffened when Jibeom stepped closer with steady steps.
"There's a new opened cafe nearby, I thought maybe if you're available, I want to take you there with me."
Jaehyun didn't realize he was gaping until Jibeom cleared his throat awkwardly.
"O-oh.." He sputtered. "Why me?"
He immediately clamped his mouth shut. He probably sounded rude, but he couldn't help it. Why him out of people?
Jibeom didn't faltered although he seemed more hesitant. "Well, I heard they sell varieties of delicious cakes and.. I just remember you. Your vanilla cake is hard to forget."
Jaehyun thought he would collapse right on the spot. It might not a date but sounded like a date.
"No pressure of course," Jibeom said quickly. "If you're free and if you want to."
His eyes widened in horror. He didn't mean to reject the offer!
"I want to!" He embarrassingly shouted and immediately regretted it. He sounded too eager. He squeezed the mop shyly. "I mean.. Of course I want too, I like cakes."
Jibeom's face softened. "I somehow know you have sweet tooth."
Jaehyun smiled widely, his heart was still thundering inside his chest. "I love sweet things."
Jibeom grinned, then looked down on the floor. "If you've finished, I'll take you home."
"How do I look?"
Bomin watched his friend twirled in from of him with bored look. "It's fine."
Jaehyun threw a shirt to the younger one in annoyance. "Tell your opinion properly!"
"Aish!" The model threw the shirt carelessly to the floor. "I said my opinion truthfully from the bottom of my heart. You look fine in anything. Just pick one you like the most."
"You're not helping."
Bomin sighed. "Just wear your white shirt and that baby blue sweater. And that skinny jeans, and converse."
"Won't it be too casual?" Jaehyun frowned.
Bomin rolled his eyes. "He's taking you to a date in a cute cafe, not to a business meeting."
Jaehyun immediately blushed and threw his pants to Bomin. "I said it's not a date!"
"Ha! If it's not a date then what is it," The younger snorted. "I can't believe the perfectionist Kim Jibeom likes a clumsy person like you."
"What is your problem?" Jaehyun kicked his friend's leg. "Why am I friend with you."
"Because you can't survive without me," Bomin rolled his tongue out. "Just go with my suggestion. It won't go wrong."
Jaehyun huffed, he didn't retort back because it's true. Bomin might be younger, but he's always be the mature one. When he went to America, he had difficult times, and talking with Bomin over video call was a great help for him.
"Alright," He said, shoulders slumped.
Suddenly Bomin regretted what he had just said. "Hyung", his hands caught Jaehyun's arm, preventing the other to leave. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to insult you. You're clumsy, but you're a wonderful person."
Jaehyun still had crease on his forehead. "But you're right, Bomin-ah. I'm totally out from his league."
Bomin yelped when the older man dropped his weight onto him. It wasn't new, Jaehyun was always clingy when he's not feeling good, but it hurt when Jaehyun's skull knocked his collarbone.
"Why is he always so kind. It'll be good if he's an ass so I can drop him right away. But he's so perfect, I like him a lot and I.. I'm pathetic."
Bomin caressed the other man's hair in sympathy. "You know you're not pathetic."
"I still want to look good in front of Kim Jibeom," He mumbled, making the younger snorted. He pushed Jaehyun away from the bed. "Quickly get dressed or you'll be late."
Kim Jibeom offered to pick him up, but he declined and insisted to meet in their destination cafe. The restaurant owner had been waiting with a menu when he arrived. Jaehyun was stunned for a second. Kim Jibeom looked dashing in turtleneck navy sweater and black jeans. Jaehyun silently thanked Bomin, their outfits matched each other.
Jaehyun flushed, but managed to stutter a greeting back. "Did you wait for long? I'm sorry, I kind a lost."
"No problem, I've just arrived too." Jibeom smiled. He didn't mean to shake his head too hard, but maybe that's what he had just done. "Here," He said, handed the menu. "I've chosen mine."
Jaehyun hesitantly looked over the menu. There were a lot of varieties of cute cakes, and he seriously had a hard time choosing. He wanted the strawberry shortcake, but the red velvet one looked good too. And the chocolate lava..
A laughter made him jolted from his seat. He blinked at the sight of Kim Jibeom laughing.
"H-huh? Why, Mr. Kim?"
Jibeom put his fist in front of his mouth. "Nothing?" He said. "It's just you're so into the menu."
Jaehyun laughed in embarrassment. "They all looked nice," He admitted shyly. "I don't know what to choose."
Jibeom leaned forward in interest. "Tell me which ones do you like."
Putting the menu on the table, he pointed at the strawberry shortcake. "This one looks nice. And this. And this," He pointed at the pictures.
The boss smiled wider. "Perfect."
Before he could ask what's perfect, Jibeom had called the waitress and ordered 3 cakes of his choice.
"Mr. Kim," Jaehyun asked with wide eyes. "Why did you order what I chose? Why-"
"I originally wanted to order the chocolate lava cake," Jibeom interrupted him. "And since you like it too, I just order those. We can share."
It was hard to restrain himself from making heart eyes to Kim Jibeom. This really looked like a date. Meeting in a fancy cafe, Jibeom ordered for him, and they'll share cakes. He wanted to scream.
"It's nice right?" Jibeom smiled and looked around the surrounding. "I hope the cakes would be nice too."
"It's cozy," Jaehyun nodded. He sounded calm, but his fingers were busy fiddling with the rip of his jeans under the table.
Thankfully their order quickly arrived or else they'll be caught in awkward silence.
The cakes were in quite small size, but they were decorated prettily. He was salivating, especially since he had skipped breakfast.
"It's smaller than I though," Jibeom mused, making Jaehyun laughed.
"I actually expected a bigger one."
Jibeom grinned. "Here," He pushed the chocolate lava cake to his direction. "Do you want to cut it?"
Jaehyun gasped. "I want to!"
Another plus point for Kim Jibeom. How can a man so perfect like him? He enthusiastically sliced the cake with his fork and soon, the melted chocolate seeped out from the crack. The satisfaction made hin grin widely Along with it, the smell of sweet cocoa invaded his nostrils.
"Ahh, it's baked perfectly," Jibeom commented.
Out of politeness, he pushed the plate back to his boss. "After you, Mr. Kim."
Jibeom shook his head. "I have a better idea. Let's just eat this together, and you can tell me your opinion."
His heart was pounding hard with the suggestion. Kim Jibeom really suggested them to share cake together? "I.. Is it okay?"
"Yes, I want your opinion."
Trying to hide his shy smile, he nodded.
The cake tasting was perfect. The cake tasted good, and their conversation went smoothly. Jaehyun let himself loose as they're talking. Kim Jibeom had vast knowledge about food, and as a sweet food mania, Jaehyun found out that they both shared same similarities in taste.
Soon, the plates were empty, and he had a big smile on his face. "The strawberry shortcake is the best."
"Agree," Jibeom nodded. "The cake is fluffy, not too sweet, the cream is light, and the strawberry is big and sweet."
"The only downside is that it's too small," Jaehyun's lips stretched into a wide grin.
Jibeom chuckled, and when he stopped, he asked, "Are you up for lunch?"
"Huh?" His smile faded.
Jibeom shrugged, still smiling. "It's almost 12 and I'm sure you're not full just by eating these little pretty cakes."
Jaehyun really didn't know how to react. Kim Jibeom inviting him for cake tasting was already like a dream, but now the man was asking him for a lunch?
"Or do you have other plan?"
Did his eyes really see disappointment in his boss' eyes?
"No, I don't have plan," He quickly said. "But.."
"But?" Jibeom inquired, curious.
Jaehyun waved his hand in dismissal and laughed awkwardly. "It's nothing, Mr. Kim. But let me pay for lunch."
Jibeom raised his brows, there's warm smile on his face. "That's your concern? Don't worry about that. Just consider this as a bonus. You've worked diligently lately."
"And by accompanying me, you've done me a favor," The boss interrupted. "It's kind of awkward to have lunch by myself."
Jaehyun knew he won't ever win over this man.
Jaehyun knew he said he wanted to quit, but he's wavering now. How could he not when Kim Jibeom was hitting on him?
He maight sound confident, but lately, he was sure Kim Jibeom had taken interest in him. Like, he noticed how the boss would take overtime when he had duty to close the restaurant and always insisted to drive him home. Not only that, from the gesture, small praise, to gentle stare, there's no way Kim Jibeom looked at him as a mere employee.
As much as he's happy, he's scared. He's scared because everything about him that Kim Jibeom knew was all lie. He wanted to tell Jibeom the truth, but what if Jibeom got angry and detest him? He wasn't ready for that. But one thing he's sure of, he'll make sure to tell the man by himself soon.
The lie had been haunting him. It made him flinched whenever Kim Jibeom was close. Although flowers bloomed in his heart when Kim Jibeom showed affection to him, he couldn't bring himself to be fully happy.
It was one evening around, after he finished his shift and cleaned up. He was about to change his uniform when Kim Jibeom called him to his office. The man seemed to be in a good mood, full of smile and all.
"Come and sit," The man pleasantly called.
Jaehyun hesitantly sat. "Why did you call me?"
Kim Jibeom didn't beat around the bush. "Want to grab dinner together?"
This was why he's sure Kim Jibeom was flirting with him. He had never seen or heard Kim Jibeom taking other employee for dinner. The only thing the man do was buying food for all the employees during break. It made him quite uncomfortable.
It's actually what he had wished for, receiving Kim Jibeom's love and attention. But not when it's accompanied with lies. Besides, it was awkward at work. He knew the other employees noticed it, judging from the frequent teasing he got.
"Did I make you uncomfortable?"
Jaehyun snapped his eyes open. He didn’t realize he's in daze. He awkwardly touched his nape. "It's not that, Mr. Kim. It's just.."
It was hard to say it out loud, he was afraid he'll offend the boss.
"I…," He glanced at the boss, who was waiting for him patiently. "I'm afraid the others will talk. You've been exceptionally nice to me, I appreciate it but-"
He stopped abruptly when Kim Jibeom chuckled. "They all know I'm courting you. In fact, they're the one who suggested the cafe date."
Surprised was an understatement on what Jaehyun's feeling right now. And it was showking how Kim Jibeom said it easily like he's talking about the weather.
"I like you, Jaehyun-sshi," The man said in steady tone.
That was the first confession he had in his entire life. Jaehyun wasn't sure how react. He's happy, but there's discomfort in his heart regarsing his lies. Besides, he still couldn't believe that the Kim Jibeom liked a clumsy waiter like him.
"W-why me?" He meekly asked. "I.. I made a lot of mistakes and make you angry."
"You're clumsy," Kim Jibeom leaned back. The man looked like he's in deep thought but his lips was curled into a smile. "But you're diligent and very sincere. You make mistakes but you repay it by working harder. And I admire you, for being strong. I have an easy life, but I can imagine having a sick father and you become the breadwinner of the family at such young age."
Jaehyun wanted to cry. How he wished they were in different situation, where Kim Jibeom knew who he really was.
Jibeom chuckled awkwardly again as the other was still silent. "I'm sorry that I've made you uncomfortable with my advances. I'm planning to tell you this during dinner, but well.. It can't be helped."
Jaehyun bit his lips, and the boss apparently interpreted it on wrong way.
"I understand if you don't feel the same. I promise nothing will change even if you do."
"I like you too, Mr. Kim," He blurted out before losing courage. He peeked over his lashes and found his boss' face brightened.
Jaehyun ducked his head in embarrassment. "I've liked you for a long time."
Kim Jibeom suddenly stood up and strode to his side. Jaehyun flinched when the man knelt and took both of his hands. "Then will you date me?"
Yes! His heart was screaming, but he couldn't say yes before he confessed all his lies.
"Mr. Kim.. B-before anything else, there's something I need to tell you," He stuttered out. The touch on his hands made is his insides flipped upside down. His heart was racing so hard, as well as his mind. How should he say to Kim Jibeom?
"What is it?" The restaurant owner gently coaxed him. But it only made him more nervous. Jaehyun thought he needed time. It was too sudden.
Looked like fate had saved him.
A knock was heard, and although reluctant, Jibeom detangled their hands and stood straight.
"Mr. Kim," Sungyoon's head peeked from behind the door. "Your parents are here with their friends."
"My parents?" Jibeom frowned, while Jaehyun released his breath. Almost.
"Wait here," Jibeom patted his shoulder and left. Jaehyun sat lax on the chair, feeling drained. He's nervous as hell. But most of all, he's scared. He didn't want Jibeom to get angry at him.
Hearing the bustling noise from outside the office made him restless. He wanted to go back home but Jibeom told him to wait. It would be impolite to leave without notice.
After a few agonizing moments, Jibeom walked in, his face was apologetic. "I'm sorry I have to cancel the dinner. My parents come without notice, and they brought their colleague, and they asked me to stay."
"It's fine," Somehow the idea of postponing the dinner and his confession relieved him. He badly wanted to clear misunderstanding, but also afraid of the possible outcome.
Jibeom awkwardly rubbed his nape. "So.. What did you want to tell me?"
"No it's nothing," He quickly said. "Your parents are waiting, it.. It can wait."
Jibeom bit his lips. "Are you sure? I can spare some time-"
He nodded his head. "It's fine, I'll tell you later, Mr. Kim."
The restaurant owner breathed out and smiled. "Okay, then.. I'll see you tomorrow?"
"S-See you tomorrow," Jaehyun bowed his head and walked out from the office. He moved so fast that he almost bumped into someone on his way out.
"I'm sorry, I-"
Jaehyun gasped, his soul almost left his body as he saw his father's surprised face. He was horrified when he saw his father scanned his appearance, the old man was gaping. He instantly trying to cover with his hands.
"Why are you wearing waiter uniform?"
"What's going on? Mr. Bong? Jaehyun?" Jibeom rushed to the door, and Jaehyun could only froze on the spot like a deer caught in headlight.
Jaehyun saw his father blinked and looked alternatively between him and Jibeom.
"Nothing happened," He quickly answered, taking his father's hand, trying to drag the man away from Jibeom. But his father stood firmly on the ground.
"Please," He pleaded his father
"J-Jibeom-sshi.. Can you explain why my son is wearing waiter uniform?"
Suddenly it was silent. Jaehyun could only hear his rapid heartbeat. His hands turned cold. He didn't even dare to see Jibeom's face.
"Your.. son? Jaehyun? Wait.. Mr. Bong.. Jaehyun?" Jibeom looked confused as hell, but a second later his expression turned into a shock as he realized what's going on, who Jaehyun was.
There's a flash on his father's eyes, making him paled.
"Jaehyun, you have to explain to me right now!"
It was embarrassing and mortifying.
Jaehyun couldn't lift his head up. He's still wearing his uniform, while his parents were scrutinizing him.. Still vivid in his mind Jibeom's betrayed expression as well as his coworkers. It was even more embarrassing that Jibeom's parents and some customers were watching him getting dragged out from the restaurant.
"Now tell us why you're working as a waiter at Kim-sshi's son's restaurant instead of planning you business like you claimed."
He trembled under his parents' gaze, and swallowed hard before he answered. "That's.. I'm sorry, I lied. I wasn't planning a business."
"But," His mother's voice was small, Jaehyun felt really bad for lying to her. "But why, Jaehyun-ah? Why did you lie? And.. why a waiter? With your degree you can get a.. more decent work."
Jaehyun bit his lips. "I'm sorry."
There's a brief of silence.
"You're embarrassing me in front of Kim-sshi," His father said. There's no hint of anger in his voice. Instead, it's full with disappointment, and it hurt more than imagination. His eyes started to get wet.
He blinked his eyes rapidly to stop the tears from flowing. The things that seemed like good idea suddenly felt stupid.
The things you do for Kim Jibeom. Talking about Kim Jibeom, his heart stung. What would he think about this? He hadn't explained to Jibeom. His father dragged him home when he failed to give explanation.
"Just tell me why, Jaehyun-ah!" His father suddenly cried out loud, making both him and his mother flinched. "What were you thinking??"
"I won't let you step out from this room before you tell me your reason!" His father warned him, and one gaze at the man's voice, Jaehyun knew he was not joking.
"I.. I like Kim Jibeom," He finally confessed. The room was silent. From the dumbfounded look from his parents he knew they were confused. He took a shaky breath before he continued. "I liked him since I saw him in the mid year gala. And Bomin told me he's the owner od Muhwadang. I.. I swear I was just going to eat there, but there's some situation where they thought I was there to apply for a job and I.. I just thought it's a good idea.. to be close to.."
He couldn't finish his sentence. It sounded so embarrassing and stupid.
The things I do for Kim Jibeom.
There's another silence and it's terrifying. He glanced at his parents. While his mother had a sorrowful expression, his father's was unreadable.
"You," His father said. "Are not allowed to step out from this house until I allow you too."
"Honey," His mother suddenly approached his father and tugged his arm. "Isn't it too harsh-"
"I won't change my mind," His father said firmly. "I sent you to America to get good education and to be responsible. I'm very disappointed you fool around to what? Chasing over your crush, creating a lie. You're lying to Kim-sshi's son! Where should I put my face now?"
Jaehyun kept quiet and silently wiped his teary face.
"Now go to your room."
"I'm really doomed."
He heard Bomin sighed. "To be honest, I don't know how to console you. Hm.. Do you want to eat something?"
Jaehyun sent a weak stare to his friend. "I'm not in the mood."
"You're no in the mood to do anything," Bomin pointed out. "Come on, I can order some. How about Chinese food?"
"Mother told you to do this right," Jaehyun turned his head away rolled to his side on his bed.
"Hyung!" Bomin groaned. "Go back to your senses! It's not the end of the world!"
"It's not," Jaehyun took a deep breath and finally looking at his friend seriously. "But it feels awful. Kim Jibeom had to know the truth before I told him, and father said he's disappointed and embarrassed. And I feel stupid for doing stupid things. I can't even see my parents in the eye because I'm embarrassed."
His voice cracked a bit in the end, and he let Bomin embraced him.
"It'll be better after some time, I promise," the younger one said softly. "And after your father allow you to go out, I'll take a break and we can travel. Maybe Europe? Or Spain. I personally wanted to go to beach."
Jaehyun chuckled, suddenly feeling lighter. They hugged for a while, and when they pulled out, he smiled. "Thanks Bomin-ah. I'm glad you come."
Bomin gave him a reprimanding look. "I would have come sooner if you answer my call."
He casted his eyes down. "I left my phone in the restaurant locker. Father demanded me to go home right away before I could even change clothes and packed my things."
Bomin looked horrified. "How can you survive without your phone for 3 days?"
"It's devastating," He answered dryly. "But it's good, I guess. I don't have to worry about message or phone call."
"You're running away," Bomin stated the fact. He paused for a while before asking again. "So you haven't heard from Kim Jibeom?"
Jaehyun exhaled tiredly. "No. I owe him explanation, but I'm scared. Besides, I can't leave the house. It's embarrassing Bomin-ah," Suddenly Jaehyun shrieked and thrashed his body on the bed. "I can't see him. Especially after he.."
Jaehyun looked at Bomin exasperatedly. "He said he likes me."
Bomin's eyes turned wide. "He did? He said he likes you?"
Jaehyun nodded sadly. "And it's even worse, Bomin-ah. He must have felt betrayed and disappointed.'
"Well," Bomin licked his lips. "If he likes you maybe he would forgive you. I mean you what you've done didn't cause any harm."
"But still," Jaehyun's shoulders slumped. "Maybe it's better this way. He must have thought I'm a creep and feel turned off."
"You don't know about that-"
"He must be a saint if he doesn't," Jaehyun sighed in resignation. "Let's not talk about him anymore, my head aches."
"But hyung, you know, maybe I can help-"
"Thank you, Bomin-ah," He smiled at the younger. "But there's no need. I'll handle it on my own."
His father let him out right after a week, and put him to work under his company. It was weird to wear suits for work, and stayed behind the desk, writing, typing, checking documents. Although it didn't require physical strength, it was boring. He missed the restaurant and his coworkers.
A sad feeling fleeted, thinking how's Jibeom's doing. He silently wished the man would seek him. With no news from the man, he got more scared to approach the other.
He finally gathered his courage to drop by Muhwadang after 2 agonizing weeks. He got off work early, and by the time he arrived, Seungmin was turning the open sign on the door.
"Jaehyun-ah!" The petite waiter rushed towards him. "Oh my god, I thought I won't see you again!"
Jaehyun bowed his head in shame. "Hi hyung."
Seungmin looked conflicted. "Come in, let's talk inside."
The man pulled him in, but Jaehyun hesitated. Seungmin noticed his discomfort and smiled tenderly. "We all have been waiting for you."
Never he imagined his former coworkers would greet him enthusiastically. There were no awkwardness, only warmth and happiness. It was Daeyeol who hugged him first, followed by the others.
"I can't believe you've fooled us all this time! We had no idea!" Sungyoon said. There were no malice in his voice, the man found it amusing instead.
"Figured why you're sucks in doing labor job," Donghyun jabbed, and Jaehyun couldn't even get angry.
"I'm sorry guys, I didn't mean to lie to you all. It's just.. It happened just like that."
"You didn't get into trouble right?" Daeyeol eyed him in concern.
Jaehyun sighed. "I did, a little."
"Poor little thing," Daeyeol pulled him into a hug for the second time. "You should have contacted us."
"Yeah, we're so worried, boss didn't want to talk either-"
Sungyoon elbowed Seungmin, making the smaller man immediately shut up. The situation suddenly turned tense. Jaehyun felt his heart thumping so hard at the thought of Kim Jibeom.
"He must be so angry" He detangled himself from Daeyeol and murmured meekly.
"He's not mad," Sungyoon suddenly said. "I know it. He's just peobably confused and sad."
Jaehyun sighed. Sungyoon probably was only trying to console him. Thinking about it, Kim Jibeom might have been told about the whole thing by his parents. He should have come to find the man sooner to explain.
"Is he here?"
"He's in the office," Daeyeol said. "Do you want to meet him?"
Jaehyun nodded. "I need to explain everything."
Nervousness always accompanied him whenever he stepped his foot inside the office. This time, however, it's more intense than usual.
The familiar 'come in' made him almost throw his gut out. His hands trembled when he opened the door.
Kim Jibeom stopped midway when he realized who had entered his office. His big eyes widened slightly, before his expression turned tense.
Jaehyun gulped. "Mr. Kim."
There's a pregnant pause before Kim Jibeom chuckled darkly. "It's funny now to hear you call me that."
"I'm sorry," Jaehyun quickly said. "I didn't mean to lie."
Jibeom leaned back on his chair. His posture was mixture of tiredness but alert. "You lied to me for more than half a year, Jaehyun-sshi."
The accusation in his tone made Jaehyun break a little. "Can you please let me explain?"
The older man kept quiet and he took it as a cue to talk.
"I.. I saw you for the first time in the mid year gala last year," Jaehyun clenched his sweaty palm. He felt awkward standing there in front of Kim Jibeom. "And.. It might sound stupid. I'm interested in you but I was to shy to approach you. My friend told me you're the owner of this restaurant, so.. I came here, hoping to see you again. But there was misunderstanding, Seungmin hyung thought I came for interview and I was caught off guard and when you offered the job, I thought it won't be a bad idea."
Jaehyun bit his lips. "I had no intention to lie to you in the first place. When I started to work here, I didn't think much, I just thought I can be close to you. I like to work here, Mr. Kim, despite everything. I really tried to work hard. I meet great friends, and the more I know you, the more I like you. But then I created more lies to cover up my previous lies and in the end I'm trapped in my own lies and deceived you all. I realized it, and I feel extremely bad about it."
"I didn't expect you to like me back," He averted his eyes to the ground, feeling embarrassed. "But I swear, I was going to tell you the whole truth. I didn't want to lie anymore. But I'm a coward and I'm afraid that you'll hate me. I should have told you earlier. I'm... I'm sorry."
When he finished talking, the only sound he heard was the sound of the wall clock ticking. His legs felt wobbly. He stole a glance to Kim Jibeom but the man only stared at his table blankly.
"I feel like a fool right now," The man said and Jaehyun felt his heart shattered.
"The more I think of it, the more I feel stupid. I blindly trusted you. I pity you, and I admired you for being strong despite your hardship. I cut some slacks on you every time you make mistakes and this," He lifted up his hand, and sighed. "I honestly don't know what to say."
The tiredness in Kim Jibeom's voice was clear enough. He realized he's fallen too deep and he couldn't climb back up.
"I.. I really hope I can pay for the damages I've caused," He offered again. At least that's all he could do.
To his surprise, Kim Jibeom laughed bitterly. "Do you think that's the only thing matter, Jaehyun-sshi?"
"Mr. Kim.." The sadness and disappointment in Jibeom's eyes made him want to crumble and cry. It's all because of him. If only he's braver and not being a coward, he won't end up like this. The most important part was, he won't end up hurting someone he cherished.
There was no one to blame but himself.
"How about Jangjun hyung? He's handsome and sexy. Most important part is he's strong. See his arms? At least if you trip and fall down he can carry you."
When receiving no response, Bomin tried again, scrolling another pic of a young man in his phone.
"Youngtaek hyung is not that bad too. He's a bit weird, but he's handsome and he's tall. I think you match well, you both are weird anyway."
"Hong Joochan? Violin prodigy. Have hands of gold, he basically can do everything-"
"Can you please shut up?" Jaehyun muttered. "I don't want to meet any of them."
Bomin sighed and put his phone down. "Then stop moping!"
"I'm not moping!" Jaehyun protested. "I'm just tired and I want to sleep."
"Are you trying to kick me out?" Bomin said disbelievingly, earning a groan from the older man.
"Don't you have modelling stuffs to do?" Jaehyun was irked. "You're always busy when I need you but when I want to be alone you always come and disturb me."
"I'm free today," Bomin stuck his tongue out to mock him. "And for your information, your mother asks me to come."
"She did?" He asked in bewilderment.
Bomin pushed him lightly. "She's worried."
"There's nothing to worry about," Jaehyun huffed. "She's overreacting."
"She said you eat a little and lock yourself inside the room most of the time."
"I eat, and I go out, just not as often as before, I'm just not in the mood yet."
"I understand," Bomin said. "Hey, do you want some pancakes? Your mom said she made some when I came."
"No. You go eat."
The younger one got out from bed. "I'll bring some for us and we can play games. How about it? Please don't reject me."
Jaehyun sighed. "Fine."
However, his smile appeared once Bomin left. He might have acted like he didn't need Bomin, but the man's presence really helped him to forget all the bad things happened to him.
He went with his life as usual after his last encounter with Kim Jibeom. The first few days was awful, he always ended up crying in his sleep, feeling deeply miserable and regret over his loss of love. Then everything became empty. Hollow. Everything, eat, work, sleep, they all merely became a routine. No red, no yellow, no spark at all. His world suddenly became black and grey.
He was startled when suddenly Bomin barged in with wild expression, no sign of pancakes on his hands.
"Kim Jibeom is here."
Jaehyun regretted for being too panicked and failed to make himself more presentable when he went out to meet the guest. Bomin wasn't helping either as the younger man practically dragged him out from his room to the living room where Kim Jibeom was waiting with his parents.
His father sent him a look and he instantly ran his fingers through his hair as an attempt to make it neater. Kim Jibeom was dressed in casual black dress shirt and dark grey pants. He looked handsome he almost swoon.
Jaehyun didn't have gut to meet his eyes, so he awkwardly sat down beside his mother, his hands idly pulling his shorts so it would cover his legs more. He really should have changed his clothes earlier.
"Once again, I'm very sorry for my son's behavior," His father said. "I've made sure he had received proper punishment."
"Our Jaehyunie is still young and naive, but he has kind heart. Please forgive our son," His mother talked with sweet voice.
"I understand," Kim Jibeom said. Jaehyun looked up and their eyes briefly met before he lowered his head again. This situation was really uncomfortable and embarrassing. He wished Bomin would save him, but that friend probably was hiding in the kitchen, eating pancake and eavesdropping.
"I come to thank you for the gift. I'm sorry it took me a while, but it's been quite busy in the restaurant," Jibeom said apologetically. "It's very beautiful but I know it's very expensive. You really don't have to do that."
"It's nothing compared to the trouble my son had created," His father waved Jibeom off. "And thank you for taking care of my son all this while."
"To be honest, Mr. Bong," Jibeom paused for a while. "Despite all that happened, I feel honored to have Jaehyun worked for me."
There's a beat of silence. Jaehyun looked up with wide eyes, and didn't believe his eyes when Kim Jibeom sent him a small smile.
"Y-yes?" His father stammered while his mother hugged his arm affectionately.
"Jaehyun-sshi is a very diligent employee," Jibeom said, this time directly look at his eyes. "I have to say he's clumsy and had made mistakes that gave me headaches, but he's always worked hard to make up for it. He sincere and I saw how he's always try to be better. He gets along with my other employees too and they all like him. Although, it's only for a while, but he's definitely a great asset for me."
Jaehyun swallowed a bile in his throat. He didn't know why Kim Jibeom spoke so highly of him after all he had done. He couldn't help but think it probably was a sarcastic remark. However, Kim Jibeom was not that kind of person.
"A-Ah, is that so?" His father glanced at him and chuckled. "It's good to hear. Jaehyun is our only son, I'm afraid we spoiled him too much."
"He's not spoiled at all, Mr. Bong," Kim Jibeom answered firmly. They was he spoke sent tingles to Jaehyun's spine. "He's far from being spoiled. In fact, there are times I learn something from him."
Jaehyun heard his mother cooed embarrassingly at him. His face felt hot at the praise. He totally didn't expect this at all. Kim Jibeom wasn't suppose to praise him. He wanted to ask Kim Jibeom what was going on, but he didn't dare when his parents were present.
"That's.. Quite a praise, Jibeom-sshi. Our Jaehyunie is still lacking a lot," His father denied, but obviously looked more cheerful.
"Ah, Jibeom-sshi, it's almost 7," His mother said energetically. "I hope you can stay for dinner."
Kim Jibeom stole a glance at him before answering. "I don't want to intrude-"
"Of course not!" She exclaimed while standing up. "It's a pleasure, Jibeom-sshi. Can you please excuse me, I'll inform Mrs. Lee that we have a guest for dinner."
Mr. Bong waited until his wife was gone before he talked again. "I believe you come here not only to thank me for the gift."
Jibeom looked taken aback, but maintaining his composure. "Yes," He answered firmly. "There's something I need to talk to Jaehyun-sshi."
His father nodded with a knowing smile. "I understand," He stood up. "I'll leave you two here."
His father patted his shoulder before he left, like telling him to behave well. Jaehyun desperately wanted to grab his hand and told him not to leave, but he might offend Kim Jibeom. The thought of being alone with Kim Jibeom threw him in a panic mode.
He stiffened when Jibeom moved, only to find the man put a small paper bag on the table.
"I should have given it back to you when you came to the restaurant, but it just slipped off my mind."
Jibeom's voice was cool, no trace of anger or resentment. He sounded careful instead. Hesitantly, Jaehyun peeked over the bag and found his old phone along with his clothes he left in locker.
"T-thank you, Mr. Kim," He stuttered. "You shouldn't have to.. I mean.. I can pick it up.. Hm.."
"I was upset," Jibeom suddenly said, and Jaehyun felt like his stomach dropped. Maybe he had expected too much when Jibeom praised him in front of his father.
The restaurant owner paused for a while, looking like he's thinking hard. "You went all the way to lie about your background and after everything was revealed, now you just give up?"
"I.. Y-yes?" Jaehyun froze with wide eyes. What did he hear just now? Kim Jibeom had definitely made him confused.
Kim Jibeom pressed his lips thinly. "I was disappointed that you just gave up everything without fighting back."
"I don't understand.. Mr. Kim.." The younger man stuttered, feeling at loss.
"A few days ago when you came to meet me, I was surprised," The man admitted. "At the same time, I'm happy, confused and angry. I'm happy that you came, I'm still confused with the whole situation and what I'm feeling, and I'm angry because it took you long enough to come to find me."
"My father didn't allow me to," Jaehyun quickly said, before he cowered again. "It's my punishment.. And I'm sorry, I.. Should have come earlier but I'm scared."
"And then you came, and you talked about paying for damages, and that's when something snapped inside me."
Jaehyun frowned. "What- What do you mean?"
"It doesn't matter at all," Jibeom shook his head. "The money, it doesn't matter."
At the moment, Jaehyun was utterly confused.
"I said I like you and you said you like me, and suddenly you disappeared? And when you came back all you talked about was giving me compensation for damages?" Kim Jibeom ranted, his brows creased. "Don't you think there's something more important to talk about? Like… Us?"
It was silence. He waited for Kim Jibeom to catch his breath with racing heart.
It sounded wonderful in his ears.
Suddenly he realized what the other man was feeling, and it thrilled him. Still, he didn't want to hope much.
"I… I thought you'll be angry because I lied.."
"I was," Jibeom said.
"I thought that you've changed your mind-"
"You couldn't possibly think I don't like you anymore because you lied right?"
Jaehyun was stunned. His mouth gaping, open and close like a goldfish. He swore one day Kim Jibeom would give him heart attack for real.
"Y-you didn't?" He asked unsurely.
Jibeom rubbed his face tiredly as a respond, and a second later he chuckled on himself.
"I.. Maybe at first I did," He said. "But the more I thought of it, the more I thought that this is all not bad at all."
"I felt betrayed at first. But later I realized, is it good that you don't have miserable poor life? Is it good that your father is not dying? And is it good that you're not my employee? At least I won't have to keep myself in check to separate business and private life."
"You said you worked in my restaurant to get close to me, but you've never tried to get close to me, never flirted with me, and when I started to court you, I felt you avoided me-"
"It's because I'm nervous and afraid other will gossip," He blurted out, and immediately clamped his mouth shut in embarrassment.
The restaurant owner chuckled. "You make me go crazy, Bong Jaehyun."
Jaehyun's face reddened, his fingers nervously pulling the edge of his shorts. "I can say the same thing towards you, Mr. Kim," He murmured. "I like you a lot. I did a lot of crazy things because of you."
He gasped when suddenly Kim Jibeom stood up, and settled himself right beside him. In reflex he scooted to the side, but Kim Jibeom held his hand, stopping him from moving.
"Is there anything you're still hiding from me?" He asked seriously, and he quickly shook his head.
"I swear I don't have any more lies."
Jibeom looked satisfied. "Then let's start all over again."
Jaehyun gaped dumbly.
A few second of silence, and the confidence on Jibeom's face faltered. "You.. don't want to?"
"You really still like me, Mr. Kim? After all I had done?"
Kim Jibeom blinked a few times but then a small smile creeped in his face. "You're adorable," He said, making the younger man flushed. "Yes, I still like you. God, you, the heir, willing to become a waiter, just for me, nobody had done so much for me. It's a bit creepy but it's still you. I guess in the end, because it's you, it's okay. I guess. I know for sure I still want you."
"Mr. Kim.." Jaehyun was torn between relief and disbelieve. His eyes felt hot and wet but his lips was stretched into a huge smile. His hands were itching, he badly had the urge to hug the man beside him. "I want to date you," He replied breathlessly. It sounded embarrassing, but the way Kim Jibeom smiled at him erased all the bad thought away.
Kim Jibeom wanted to date him. After all that had happened.
Life couldn't get any better.
"Then, it's settled."
Jaehyun couldn't believe Kim Jibeom freaking giggled at him. Too cute! He bit his lips. "Yes, Mr. Kim."
Kim Jibeom's eyes twinkling. "Now that we're dating, you still call me Mr. Kim?"
Jaehyun put his luggage down, and desperately hid his wide smile as he saw his lover's shocked face.
"Jaehyun! I thought you'll be back tomorrow!" Jibeom exclaimed in surprise. Nonetheless, the restaurant owner stood up and crossed the room to give him a hug.
The younger man smiled sheepishly. "Well.. Surprise?"
Jibeom grinned. "It's a nice surprise," He said. "How's France?"
"It's great! Me and Bomin had a great time, but it'll be better if you come with us."
Jibeom chuckled. "Come with you and join your shopping escapades? I love you, but you know shopping is not my thing."
"No fun," Jaehyun muttered, but his lips twitched up.
"Did you have dinner?"
He shook his head and Jibeom's face lit up. "Shall we have dinner together?"
"Ah," Jaehyun smiled apologetically. "I'm actually planning to have the spicy stir fried galbi with the rest. I saw they're having break right now and I have souvenirs for them."
Jibeom frowned. "You ditch me for them? And you don't even ask me to join with you all?"
Jaehyun made a show looking at the piles of documents on the table. A plate of half eating food was on the table as well. "Well, it looks like you're busy, and you've already eaten."
The look on his lover's face made him laugh and he decided to stop the teasing. "You'll have me for the rest of the night," He grinned. "I've told my parents I'll crash at your place tonight."
"Oh," Jibeom crossed his arms in front of his chest, decided to play along. "I haven't agreed though."
A pout from Jaehyun making Jibeom laughed. "Alright. Go have fun, I'll finish this quickly."
Jaehyun leapt and placed a loud smacking kiss on the restaurant owner's cheeks. "See you later, Mr. Kim."
It was on their 5th month of dating when Jaehyun found out Jibeom had a weird kink on that nickname. He accidentally called the man Mr. Kim and he saw the man lost his cool, his neck and ears turned red like he got sunburnt.
He laughed in glee as the sight he expected to see appeared. Jibeom's neck and ears flushed and the man sputtered out, "Told you don't call me that!"
"Just admit you like it Mr. Kim," He called out and immediately flew out from his room, ignoring his lover's call.
The night would be filled with much fun.