Been Through [03 - The Fête]
Genre: angst, drama, slice of life, friendship
Characters: OC (Choi Seoyeon), Oh Sehun, and many others.
Word count: 4.2k words
Fête [/fāt/]: an elaborate party or celebration
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I had just finished applying my lipstick when I heard the doorbell of my apartment chime. Not a second later, the sound of someone entering my apartment’s passcode also echoed. “Wait a moment Hun!” I hollered when I heard the front door being opened. “I’m almost ready!” I quickly pack my things to my handbag, along an extra bag for my laptop and research notes about my thesis. I sneaked a glance at the clock, it was indeed 10AM.
“How do you know it’s me?” Sehun came into my bedroom. “It could’ve been an intruder,” he muttered under his breath. I rolled my eyes at him, “Only my family and you know the passcode to my apartment, and my family would’ve just barged in without ringing the bell, so it’s no one else but you.”
“Okay, let’s go,” we walked out of my bedroom. As I was wearing my shoes by the foyer, Sehun wordlessly picked up my extra bag that contained my laptop and notes and opened the door for me to go out first. “Thanks,” I murmured. He just hummed and closed the door, making sure that it was already locked. We headed down using the elevator to the basement, where he parked his car.
“You could’ve just call me and wait in the lobby, you know,” I told him. He rolled his eyes at that, “I might end up waiting for 15 minutes or more, and most probably the security guard would’ve told me to scurry off the lobby,” he replied. I slapped his arm at that, while he only laughed hearing my respond.
“How’s your week?” he lifted his hand up above my head, and I just knew that he was going to ruffle my hair. “Don’t you dare,” I glared at him while slapping his hand away. He snickered at my reaction. “Nothing too much, just a few meetings, course planning, working on the research,” I shrugged, answering his question from before. “You?”
“Too much translating,” he groaned. “I should’ve picked my internship place in some university with some Professor like you, instead of a telecommunication company,” he grumbled. It was my turn to snicker, “I told you back then to apply together, but you’re the one who wants to work in a ‘real office’,” I air-quoted what he told me two months prior. “Shut up,” he huffed, making me laugh at his pettiness.
Both Sehun and I were in our last semester in university. As absurd as it was, we had to do both internship and thesis for us to be eligible to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Due to that condition, I thought that it would be best to intern as an Assistant Professor, because I would have more time to work on my thesis, compared to if I work in a corporation.
Sehun, however, thought differently. He was already set to take a master’s degree in business as he was going to take after his father’s position later on, so he thought that it would be better if he started little by little to learn about corporation life, from the bottom. I asked him once on why did he take literature as a bachelor’s degree when he was definitely going into his family’s business later on, but he simply replied that it was his passion, and he was allowed to do it as long as he still take after the family business.
“Come on,” Sehun prodded me to walk out of the elevator. I belatedly realized that we had reached the basement. “The new Stinger?” I raised a brow upon reaching his car. He put my belongings at the backseat as I went in the passenger seat. “Perks of being Kia’s only heir,” I mused while buckling up, after he got in the driver seat. “Shut it,” he buckled up and started the engine. “It’s not like you’re not part of the circle,” he retorted. “Just drive,” I rolled my eyes. “Of course, young miss,” I could hear the playfulness in his voice. “Are we going to the Korean Air main office?” I slapped his thigh, and he finally started driving while laughing at my reaction.
“Where are we going, by the way?” I asked once we hit the main road and after he calmed down. “I was thinking for a classic place like IKEA, but today’s a Saturday,” he started. “Never go to IKEA on a Saturday,” I snorted. And I meant it, because the crowd was unbearable on weekends. “Any other place?” I asked him again. “Well if we’re avoiding crowded places, that means we’ll have to avoid malls and markets” he continued. “But then again that means the only places left are campus towns- and Kyunghee’s campus town is the best.”
I thought for a bit while looking at the map on my phone. “Let’s just go to Lotte Mall, we can just look for a café there,” I concluded. I did not hate campus towns, but it was the weekends, and I just wanted to look for other places that was nowhere near my workplace. Sehun just hummed and drove to the said destination. Both of us simply enjoyed to the music that played through the audio system, which is on shuffle of the trending Western music. It was not until when we have entered Seodun district when Sehun started speaking again.
“Right, do you get the invitation for Samsung’s launching party next month?” he asked. “Obviously,” I snorted at that. “My sister is dating Kim Jongdae, remember?” I reminded him. “Right,” he nodded to himself. “Sometimes I forget that Kim Jongdae is from that Kim family,” he added. I just laughed at that, “Not many people know about it anyway, he literally hides in the shadows, aiming to be an English Professor instead.” Sehun laughed a bit along with me.
“Well, back to the topic, are you going to the party?” he started looking around for any signs to enter the basement parking lot, as we have arrived. “There’s the entryway,” I pointed out to him when I spotted it. “Depends,” I answered his question from earlier. “If my brother is going, then I’ll most definitely be his plus one, but if he isn’t going, then I won’t go too,” I explained. “I mean, you know that I’ve always avoid that kind of events unless I really have to Hun, sort of explain as to why you only found out that I was part of the circle a few months ago,” I added. “That’s true...,” Sehun hummed to himself.
It was safe to say that I liked end of years the least. No, it was not because of the seasons- winter was my favorite because I was a winter child, but I did not particularly like business agendas. And in the business world, end of years meant galas, banquets or parties, to celebrate the company’s success over the past one year. However, I was not fond of those parties. Being born in one of the most prestigious families in South Korea that owns a multi-billion dollars company, those kinds of celebrations are sort of a normal thing in our circle- but it did not exactly mean that everyone had to like it. I was one of those odd ones, who preferred to stay out of the radar instead of being in the spotlight. But of course, I still had my duties as the youngest daughter of my family and took part in the business too- only sometimes though. And this time, I attended the year end gala that was held by my family and company, Hanjin Group.
“Why is it that you just have to not have a companion on this year’s party,” I grumbled in a low voice to my older brother. We had just arrived at the hotel lobby, and since my brother just broke up with his long-time girlfriend some time ago, I had to step in as his plus one. While it was not mandatory to bring a plus one, my brother reasoned that it was only proper for him to have one as the President of the company. However, I knew that it was just a reason to make me join the celebration, as the last time I attended was over three years ago. It also made me return back home from England two weeks earlier, cutting my supposedly holiday short. Well, at least the winter in Korea was not as cold as the UK.
“Please, you’ve finished your exams already,” he muttered back while patting my hand that was on his arms, trying to sooth down my anger. I was in my second to last semester in university, and I went away to Nottingham for a student exchange program for one semester. While I had finished all of my exams at the end of November, I decided to only return back to Korea in the middle of December, because I want to have a short solo-travel around Europe first. But of course, my brother just had to send our private jet and call me back to be his plus one for our family’s year end gala. The gala was on the first week of December, so I had to return right after I finish my exams, so that my jetlag would not be a problem by the time of the gala.
“And you do know that I wanted to travel around by myself first,” I snapped back at him. He only rolled his eyes at that, “Fine, just go on the travel next week or something.” I replied with another eyeroll, “I don’t have enough time, I had to start looking for internship and plan my research for my thesis,” I grumbled at him. That was the main reason I wanted to travel right before I returned to Korea- I had too much things to do at home. My brother sighed at that, “I’m sorry, okay?” he told me for the nth time. “Let’s go wherever you want when you’re free, for however long you want, and I’ll pay for you too,” he tried again. That was honestly a tempting offer. I mean, while my bank account could also be counted as... well, countless, having my brother paid for me for a vacation was something not to be ignored. “You better keep your promise,” I gave him a final glare. Knowing that he had sort of succeed in placating my anger, he grinned brightly and gave me a hug. We were a few feet away from the entrance of the hall. “Thanks, baby girl.”
Have I mentioned that I hate being in the spotlight? Well, that was among the reasons I like to stay out of my family’s business. It felt like the whole world was watching me, waiting for the right moment when I make a mistake so that they could prey on me- business world was ruthless after all. Thankfully, my brother and I’s arrival was not announced, and no press were allowed to be in the gala. However, Choi Siwon was the current President of Hanjin Group, and even without announcement, all eyes immediately went to us upon entering the hall. With professional smiles plastered on our faces, we walked through the crowd to our table at the front near the stage, where our parents and sister had sat down and were seen to be conversing with some people. While walking along the hall, I glanced around and saw some confused faces were looking at me- and I just knew that they did not know I was Choi Siwon’s youngest sister. Like I said, I did not participate that lot in the business, so only Hanjin, obviously, and some of our business partners knew of who I was. While for some others, I believe they thought that I was Siwon’s new girlfriend.
“Hey Appa, Eomma, Eonni,” I greeted my family members quietly when we reached our table, they were in the middle of a conversation with someone. My brother did the same, and exchanged a friendly greeting with our business partner, while I only offered a small smile because I was not familiar with him. “Hello, Jongdae-oppa,” I greeted my sister’s boyfriend. “Hello, Seoyeon,” he replied with a smile. My sister, Choi Sooyoung, had just started dating Kim Jongdae, the Vice President of Samsung, for about three months. It was only my second time seeing Jongdae as my sister’s boyfriend, because I had been away in England for the past semester. But before that, I have met him for one or two business projects, so I am a little bit familiar with him.
It was only then that I noticed our small circle had gone a bit quiet- the male who was conversing with my parents were looking at me with obvious question in his eyes. “Oh, right, Junmyeon-ah, I don’t think you’ve ever met her,” my father realized. Now that my father mentioned his first name, I recognized him immediately- Kim Junmyeon, the current President of Samsung, and Kim Jongdae’s cousin. “This is our youngest daughter, Choi Seoyeon,” my father gestured me to move closer and greet him. “Forgive me for not recognizing you earlier, Seoyeon-ssi,” he shook hands with me, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Pleasure to meet you too, President Kim,” I smiled back. “No worries, I’m the one who rarely shows up my face to the public,” I joked a bit. “And please, just call me Seoyeon,” I added. He replied similarly with a smile, “Then call me Junmyeon.” Our conversation flowed pleasantly after that, a mix of business and personal matters too, especially between the two Kim-s and me- they barely know me after all. It was then that I found out Kim Jongdae, while being the Vice President of Samsung, has the same passion as me in literature; and it turned out he was taking English Literature too at the moment; although for master’s degree. And when I told him that I was looking for both a project for thesis and internship for the next semester, he offered to talk to his supervisor, Professor Lee Sunhee, in Kyunghee University. I did not want to trouble him, of course, but he insisted to at least ask, because his Professor was looking for an assistant anyway. While she was looking for a full-time assistant, he also mentioned that a part-timer or intern would do until someone applied. For that, I was extremely grateful to him.
After a few more exchanges and a promise from Jongdae to give me an update as soon as possible, my brother and I parted ways to greet our other business partners, while the rest of them still talk amongst themselves. “Ya, Choi Siwon!” someone called right after we excused ourselves from our family. We looked to the source of the familiar voice, and found Kim Heechul making his way to us. Kim Heechul, the President of CJ Group, also happened to be one of my brother’s best friend. “Welcome, Hyung!” my brother gave the older male a bro hug. “And thanks for coming,” he added. “Oh it’s nothing, as long as you come to CJ’s in two weeks,” Heechul added jokingly.
Fleeting his eyes to me, his grin seemed to get wider, “And look who decided to step out from the shadows!” he moved to hug me. As a response, I slapped his back hard when we hugged. An ouch was heard from his mouth. “Serve you right, Heechul-ssi,” I told him after we released the hug. “You don’t change at all, still as violent as ever,” he grunted and complained to my brother, who only chuckled at our bantering. I slapped his arm again at that.
While the two guys started to immerse themselves in a business conversation, I tried to look around for a certain female that was stuck to Heechul in events like this. The male seemed to notice what I was doing. “Joohyun’s not coming with me today,” he paused the talk with Siwon. “She said she had to finish her report or something, the deadline is due on Tuesday,” he shrugged. “Ah, the internship report,” I nodded my head knowingly. Heechul then raised a brow at me, “Don’t you guys have the same deadline too? You’ve finished your report?”
“I went for a student exchange program last semester, Oppa,” I reminded him with a roll of my eyes. “I only took internship for one semester, instead of two like your cousin,” I explained further. “Right,” he hummed. “I think Joohyun mentioned it to me a while ago, whining about something along the lines of wanting to have a short holiday to visit you in the UK and regretting not taking student exchange program.” I laughed at that, Joohyun also told me the same thing too when I was still away.
The person we were talking about was Bae Joohyun, my best friend since high school, and also Kim Heechul’s younger cousin from his mother’s side- that explained the different family names of the two. Both Joohyun and I were also attending Korea University, although she took a different major from me, International Business Management. Even so, our friendship never wavered, we still met sometimes inside the campus when we were both free, and sometimes went on shopping together too on the weekends. Speaking of which, I have not had the time to meet her since I returned to Korea. “Well, I suppose I’ll just give her a call later and probably meet up after she finished her report,” muttered to myself. Kim Heechul then parted ways with us to greet our parents.
Another voice called my brother’s name right after. We looked to where the voice came from, and Kia’s President, along with his wife greeted our sight. “Hello President Choi, long time no see,” the older male started. “Yes, President Oh, long time no see,” my brother shook his hand, then to his wife, “Thank you for coming,” he gave a smile. “No worries,” they smiled at him, then turned to greet me. “And Choi Seoyeon, I haven’t seen you in a while,” he gave me a warm smile, same as his wife. I smiled back at them, “Yes President, sorry about that, I was abroad for a while-”
“Choi Seoyeon?” a familiar voice from behind the couple called out to me, cutting my words off. We all looked at the newcomer, who had just joined our small circle. “Hi, Sehun,” I grinned at the couple’s son, who was still staring at me with wide eyes. Everyone could tell that he was definitely shocked. “Oh, I was going to introduce you to her since she’s the same age as you, but it seemed like that you’ve already known Seoyeon-ssi here,” his father commented. “I mean, I know that you’ve met her brother, President Choi for a few times before, but I don’t know that you’ve met her already,” he continued. On the other hand, Sehun just looked back and forth between his parents, my brother and I with mouth agape.
My brother nudged me, “You’ve never told him, do you?” he sighed. I just kept my grin and shook my head at him. “Wait- how the- what...?” Sehun was definitely out of words to say to any of us. “Please excuse us, President Oh and Mrs. Oh, it seems that I need to borrow Sehun for a little bit,” I smiled at his parents. The couple and my brother let us off, and I pulled Sehun away to have a more private talk.
“What the hell?” he exclaimed when his parents were out of earshot. “Well nice to finally see you too, Sehun,” I rolled my eyes playfully. “Seoyeon-ah,” he stopped walking and grabbed my shoulders to make me turn to face him. “I’m serious here,” his face was definitely serious. I put his hands down and planted a serious look too, “And do you think I’m joking?” I challenged him. We stared at each other for a few more seconds, and when Sehun saw that I was not joking at all, he heaved out a sigh.
“I...” he licked his lips, clearly not knowing how to approach this topic. I sighed at how he acted, “Yes Sehun, I am the youngest daughter of Hanjin Group,” I started. “And no, it’s not that I don’t want to tell you, but we just never came across the topic of our family- I mean, not in depth,” I continued before he could say anything. “And yes, I don’t like business parties like this, and that is why you don’t know that I am from this Choi family,” I answered on the possible questions he might fire at me.
He pursed his lips, trying to absorb all the new information that I just gave him- and probably still trying to comprehend the fact that his best friend of three years and more was part of the same circle as him. Heaving a sigh after a while, he finally gave me a smile, then opened his arms, inviting me for a hug, “Sorry, I was just extremely surprised,” he said sheepishly. Quirking my lips, I accepted his arms and hugged him, “I missed you,” he hugged me tightly. After all, we have not met each other for the past semester- he also took part in the student exchange program, but he went to the US, to Los Angeles, to be precise. “Me too, Sehun,” I released the hug.
“But seriously though, for a second there I thought you are Choi Siwon’s new girlfriend.”
“You even thought that I was Choi Siwon’s girlfriend,” I snickered at him. “Yah! I didn’t know, okay,” he grumbled. “But really, how did you even come to that conclusion? I mean, my last name is also Choi, shouldn’t that at least ring a bell to you when I stood next to him?” I wondered. “Don’t ask me okay, I also didn’t know what went on inside my brain at that time,” he snapped grumpily. I laughed one last time at his pettiness, then kept quiet or he would have ignored me for the whole day.
After going around the parking lot a few times, he had finally found an empty parking space, and we went out of the car after he parked it properly. “Thanks,” I reached out my hand to take my extra bag that he brought out of the backseat, but he pulled it away and simply carried it instead. “Sehun-”
“It’s fine, it’s not that heavy,” he stopped my protest. Knowing how stubborn he could be from our years of friendship, I just let him do what he wanted while heaving a sigh. “Thanks,” I told him again. “No worries,” he replied. We went up to the ground floor of the mall, and the famous American coffee-shop-chain was just in front of us. “Let’s find a less-crowded café,” he concluded after eyeing how crowded Starbucks was.
After going around for a little bit, we finally managed to find a relatively empty café. “Do you want the usual?” Sehun asked me once we put our things on an empty table. We came to this famous Korean coffee-shop-chain quite often, although never exactly this store, but they always have the same menu everywhere. “It’s fine, I’ll go order myself-”
“Great, I’ll get you a cup of hot caramel macchiato and your usual blueberry cream cheese waffle,” he ignored me and went to the counter to put our orders. I just stared agape at his back. What the hell is wrong with him today? He’s so weird, I thought to myself.
“Dinner’s on me,” I claimed after he came back to the table. “We’ll see about that,” he grinned at me. There was something in his eyes aside playfulness when he said that at me, but I could not quite decipher what that was. I point two fingers to my eyes, then to his with squinted eyes. I’m watching you, I mouthed at him. He simply chuckled and shook his head at my silliness. “And how about you?” I asked while we took out our notes and laptops onto the table. “Are you going to the party?”
“About that...” he licked his lips nervously at my question and looked at me hesitantly. Somehow, I could see some kind of hope glimmering in his eyes, along with nervousness. I also did not know how, but seeing the emotions in his eyes, I just knew what he was going to say before he voiced it out loud. “Be my plus one,” he asked- no, he stated. I groaned, exactly what I was thinking about. “So that’s why you’re buttering me up this whole morning,” I glared at him. He gave me a lopsided grin, somehow also managed to figure out what my answer was before I said it out loud. Just in time, our order number was called, and so he immediately took off to take our orders to escape my death glare.
“Fine,” I told him after he returned to our table with our orders. “But I’m taking back my words about tonight’s dinner on me,” I pointed out my waffle’s fork at him. “Deal!” he gave out a bright smile, accompanied with his signature eye-smile. Unconsciously, the tips of my lips were lifted up in a smile too.
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