“Please come back again!” Ga Eul closed the door behind the middle aged woman who just paid the bill and turned to the table, retrieving the dishes. She brought them to the kitchen to have them washed and then started cleaning the table.
It had been a quiet day so far, with just a few customers and after a good night of sleep, thankfully without nightmares, she felt much better. And much more angry than the night before. The sound of the door interrupted her and she turned around to greet the newly arrived but the dutifully cheerful “welcome!” died in her throat, when she recognized the guy in front of her.
“Woo Bin sunbae?”
“Hey hey!” the mafia prince waved at her, smiling. “How are you?”
“I’m fine thank you. What brings you here? Do you want some porridge?”
She was a little nervous, to be honest. Woo Bin rarely showed up at her workplace, and usually he was with Yi Jeong who was the last person she wanted to see that day, for his own sake. She still wasn’t ready to talk to him, let alone forgive him.
When she realised Yi Jeong wasn’t with Woo Bin, she exhaled an inner sigh of relief. But why was Woo Bin there then?
“If you’re looking for Jan Di, she’s out for deliveries.” she tried, but the guy shook his head, sitting down at a table.
“I’m actually here for you.” he told her, inviting Ga Eul to sit next to him.
Oh please no, Yi Jeong sunbae can’t have told him what happened last night…
Woo Bin noted that she suddenly paled and was struggling to keep a straight face. “All ok?” he asked her, with a worried look.
“Yes… of course.” Ga Eul started biting her lower lip, unmoving like she was glued to the ground. When she realised she was showing all her nervousness, she suddenly smiled trying to relax. “So, what can I do for you?”
“Well.” he started but then stood up and gently pushed Ga Eul down to the chair. “Please sit down. You look really pale. Are you sure you’re all right?”
She nodded keeping praying in her mind: she would have died of embarassment if Woo Bin told her he knew about last night. No, she would have killed that damn potter before. Even though the night before she threatened to expose him to Woo Bin sunbae, she didn’t really want the mafia prince to know everything. It hadn’t been a bluff, but she was happy she didn’t have to go through with it.
“Yesterday we were at the lounge.” Woo Bin started again, keeping an eye on Ga Eul. That girl was really worrying him. “And Yi Jeong told us you two decided to date.”
“Well yes.” she answered keeping her voice as steady as possible. “I mean, I asked. He just accepted.”
“Are you really sure about it, Ga Eul yang? You know us all for almost a year now, you know it can’t be so easy. Is this really what you want?”
“Yes I am sure.” she replied, more determined this time.
She was thinking about it since she woke up that morning; a part of her wanted to run away as fast as she could, but another part knew she wouldn’t. Even though Yi Jeong really scared her, she couldn’t forget all the rest: their dinner and his carefree eyes while they were laughing together, or the way he lightly squeezed her hand in the darkness of his workshop, or his embrace, and the feel he was completely relying on her.
She certainly didn’t dare to think he needed her, but that moment of vulnerability showed her something she still couldn’t believe: for those brief minutes, Yi Jeong trusted her, allowing her to see him in a less than perfect state.
What came after was probably a natural reaction from him: she saw his naked soul and she had to pay. He needed to return to a position of power over her, he couldn’t afford to show his weak side. That stupid, self-centred, vain guy almost raped her just to prove his point.
Now that she wasn’t scared anymore, only the anger was left, and she was so furious with him that she could have screamed.
But that was also the reason she couldn’t give up. If he opened up, it meant he trusted her. She wanted to show him that trust was well put. After some revenge of course, he couldn’t really expect to just get away with it like that.
“So…” she added after a brief silence “Are you here to give me the “give up” speech, like Yi Jeong sunbae did with me when Jun Pyo sunbae started chasing Jan Di?”
Woo Bin smiled, fully remembering that night and the expression of Yi Jeong’s face when Ga Eul had stormed out of his workshop, completely ignoring his charm. Funny enough, that had not been the last time: she ignored him in New Caledonia too and that was the first time he had ever seen Yi Jeong chasing after a girl, even it was only to get some information about Jan Di and her supposed “other love”. Which turned out to be Ji Hoo by the way.
He really hated that period of their life, when he was fearing F4 would be no more. It was maybe the first time he understood how much he depended on his friends, how much he needed them. He once told Yi Jeong that he only felt embarassed for his mafia ties in front of them, but he never told him how much important they were to him.
When he called them “brothers” it wasn’t just a word to him.
And suddenly Geum Jan Di and Chu Ga Eul bursted into their world, turning it upside down. What was just a game turned out to be a deadly serious matter, now that Jun Pyo was forced into marriage and Woo Bin didn’t want the same thing to happen to Yi Jeong, because he didn’t believe even for a second the whole “I just want to show her her place” nonsense from his friend.
“I won’t tell you the same things Yi Jeong did, but I want you to carefully think about it.” the mafia prince looked at Ga Eul with now serious eyes. “Jun Pyo and Ha Jae Kyung… it could happen to Yi Jeong at any moment. Or to me, for what matters. This is our world Ga Eul yang, and we can’t avoid it.”
She looked away, biting her lip again and he felt sorry for her. He didn’t want anybody to suffer, but it was his duty as a friend to warn her of the possible outcome.
“How can you all accept it?” Ga Eul finally replied. She looked angry but sad as well. “We’re not in some ancient century, we’re at the present day. People should be free to love and marry whoever they want. Why waste your lives like this?”
“I suppose you can look at it as the price we must pay to live in paradise.” he said trying to look relaxed. He didn’t like where this conversation was going.
“Price?” she glared at him and he suddenly felt uneasy on the chair. “Do you mean you accept to sell your lives and your future happiness in exchange for money, cars and luxury? That’s sad sunbae.”
“Some of us don’t.” his thoughts flew on Yi Jeong’s older brother. “But I don’t know if they get an happy ending. In our world, when you refuse to abide by the rules, you are usually thrown out of your family, stripped of your inheritance and forgotten.”
“How can a parent do something like this? It’s so unnatural.”
“It can be even worse. The family will throw out the unwilling heir only if he has some siblings that can replace him. Jun Pyo has none, since Jun Hee noona is already married. That’s why his mother will do anything in her power to make him marry Monkey.”
Jae Kyung explained her and Jan Di the meaning of the nickname, so she knew about it. It had actually been fun to imagine that explosive girl clinging on Jun Pyo’s back and biting his ear. Well, until she remembered it was the same evening of that horrible birthday party.
“So… Yi Jeong sunbae’s family is the same? Willing to trade his happiness for business?”
“Probably not his parents. But his grandfather is another story.”
“But then… his parents can help him, can’t they?” well, probably not his father, after what Yi Jeong had done, but maybe his mother…
“Dont’ count on it.” Woo Bin bluntly answered. “Yi Jeong doesn’t have a family like you mean it. His parents don’t care about him at all, that’s the only reason they won’t try to arrange his marriage. It’s like he doesn’t even exist to them, except when they need something.”
He stopped, realising he was saying too much and softened his gaze. “Look. I just wanted to warn you. I don’t know how much involved you are with him now… but you’re a smart girl. You have to think about all the consequences of what you’re doing. I don’t want to see you and Yi Jeong suffer like Jun Pyo and Geum Jan Di.”
He stood up and Ga Eul slowly rose as well.
“I’m sorry if I scared you, I didn’t mean to. I just had to tell you how things are.” Woo Bin was feeling awkward. He liked Ga Eul and he was pretty sure his friend liked her too, but truth to be told, he was scared. Seeing Jun Pyo, of all people, forced into marriage like that, was really painful to him not to mention it made him feel powerless.
“But just so you know…” the words escaped his lips without him even knowing. “Should Yi Jeong choose you… you will have my full support. You can come to me whenever you need. Know that Song Woo Bin is your friend, Ga Eul yang.”
He winked at her and left the shop, leaving a stunned girl behind.
While driving his sports car away, he suddenly smiled and felt better, realising that those last words were the real reason why he had gone to Ga Eul in the first place: not to warn her, or to make her give up, but to offer her his help. He couldn’t know if things were fated to end up good or bad, but he didn’t want to just watch. He intended to help. Both Yi Jeong and Jun Pyo. Now he only had to figure out how.