Time for the next chapter to come out! Yay! I know people have been saying they've been having problems with Vingle and reading stories so please let me know if it's happening on here as well so I can make sure it's not a problem on my end, which is very possible. Aside from that, I hope you enjoy this chapter.
Thank you to all of you who are reading, liking, clipping, following, and commenting.
Disclaimer: Many of the characters aside from BTS are made up and BTS themselves are not BTS in this story. And, of course, I don't know the BTS boys personally so their personalities are probably mostly fictional.
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Warning: Contains mild language
Over the next couple days, the seed of hope grew in SooJin’s heart. She both hated and was grateful for Jungkook’s words. Part of her wanted it to be true so badly. The other part of her laughed at her for being so pathetic again. And she knew, another heartbreak and she was likely done for with love. Why was something that was supposed to be so beautiful so painful?
And yet, she actually felt her spirits lift. She worked harder at the PT sessions and, on Friday, was moved to the forearm crutches. The doctor told her she would probably only need the aide for another week. And even though it hurt to have Jimin still ignore her, that small bit of hope kept her from heartbreak. After all, everything he was doing was out of character. There had to be a reason... right?
Then, Saturday came, the day of the conference. JiEun had already come and helped SooJin put on her skirt. SooJin was sitting on her bed, both ready to go and scared out of her mind. Could she handle all those people looking at her? All of them would soon hear about some of her past. Would they pity her? But even with all of that fear, she was determined to not let her family and friends be talked about in such a bad light. She couldn’t allow that, not when there was something she could do.
A knock on her door pulled her out of her thoughts. She smiled, it was Jin’s knock. Jin, her brother. Just the thought made her feel better. The door opened slightly. “Is it okay to come in?”
“Yep. I’m dressed.”
Jin stepped in. “My sweet little sister looks so grown up.”
SooJin pouted. “I am grown up.”
“Of course you are,” he teased, sitting next to her. It was silent for a moment. “Are you nervous?” SooJin nodded. “Stupid question, huh?”
SooJin laughed. “No. I like you checking up on me.”
“Good” he squeezed her shoulder “because you’re stuck with me checking up on you forever.”
“I think I can handle that.” She was quiet while she debated whether to say it or not. In the end, she decided to. “I’m scared.”
“I’m sorry. I wish I could make it go away.”
“I know. You’re a good brother. But I know I’d have to deal with this kind of... attention sooner or later.”
“I’m sorry,” Jin reiterated sadly.
“Don’t be. I can handle it since it’s part of being your sister, having our parents... I can live with that since I have a family now. It’s worth it. Completely worth it.”
“Sorry to interrupt,” came Hoseok’s voice from the doorway. “The drivers are here.”
Jin gave SooJin another hug and then stood up. “I’ll go check on the others. I’ll see you downstairs.” Hoseok let Jin pass. “Help her down?” Hoseok nodded.
“Ready to go?” Hoseok asked, walking to her bed.
“As I’ll ever be,” she sighed nervously and stood up. Hoseok was glad that she had been feeling better the last couple of days. He was about to kick Jimin’s ass if SooJin continued to look that miserable for much longer. Hoseok helped her down the stairs and to the car. Even on flat ground, she was still a little unsteady on the new crutches.
All of them piled into three cars with chauffeurs ready to take them. They were to be chauffeured to the conference and dinner afterwards. After dinner, they would drive themselves home. SooJin sat between Jin and Hoseok in one car. The two men did their best to help make SooJin feel more comfortable about the event.
The cars pulled up to the back entrance. They were at the venue very early, but a few reporters were already waiting at the entrance. Everyone went inside and greeted Mr. and Mrs. Kim who were waiting for them. SooJin and her mother stayed attached at the hips while everything was set up. Jin, their parents, and Hoseok discussed exactly what they would be saying and when. They had already talked about it a few times during the week, but they wanted to run through it another time. While they got ready, the reporters started to come and set up their equipment in the main room.
A few hours later, the conference started. Jin helped SooJin up the steps and to her seat. SooJin sat between Jin and Hoseok with her parents on the other side of Jin. In the back, JiEun and the others waited in a place where SooJin could see them. Mr. and Mrs. Kim walked to the podium, ready to start the conference.
“Thank you all for attending,” Mr. Kim started. “We’re grateful for all of you giving us a fair chance to explain these recent events.”
Mrs. Kim spoke next. “We have only recently discovered that our daughter SooJin…was still alive. She was in a horrible accident that resulted in our discovering who she was. We wanted to wait until all the paperwork was finalized and SooJin was recovered before announcing everything. Unfortunately, the recent derogatory claims have necessitated our having this conference earlier. And, as you can see, our daughter is still not recovered yet.”
SooJin shrank back as far as she could when the reporters turned to her. Jin quickly grabbed her hand and squeezed reassuringly. Hoseok patted her arms as well. She turned between the two and smiled at them, feeling more confident now.
Jin reluctantly let go of SooJin’s hand to take his turn at the podium. He recited a rehearsed version of what had actually happened. While they all didn’t want to lie, they knew that events could easily be taken the wrong way. He told them about how they ran into her and helped her and how she and JiEun became fast friends. He explained about her memory loss after the accident and her subsequent mistaken identity, then about her adoption. When she couldn’t find what she thought was her last living relative, he said JiEun had asked her to stay with them. Then he choked up slightly when he explained about her accident and how it led to her actual identity being discovered.
Jin went back to his seat when it was the doctor’s turn to talk about the medical aspects of SooJin’s condition. His explanation was brief as he told them he was not allowed to divulge too much information. He only briefly explained that a particular blood condition and SooJin’s friends’ desire to help led to the discovery of the familial ties between Jin and SooJin.
Hoseok was after. He talked about everyone having visited her in the hospital. Most of them at some point had walked her around the hospital and a few of them were present for her PT sessions. Because of his work at the hospital, he and Taehyung were with her often. He reiterated that the pictures that were published must have been picked specifically for the purpose of inciting these results.
“So, are you saying that you and Miss Kim are not in any sort of relationship?” a reported asked.
“No we are not, nor have we ever been. We are only friends.” Hoseok wondered if SooJin knew how much it hurt to say that. “All of us are her friends and are here supporting her.” He indicated to the others at the back of the room.
“So, you aren’t now,” another reported continued, “but is it a future possibility?”
Hoseok paused, wishing he could leave that path open, but he knew better. “I can’t predict the future, no one can. But I can tell you, there has never been a discussion of that nature between the two of us.” He looked straight at Jimin, being careful to not glare. “And I don’t see that as a likely possibility. That’s the only answer I have.”
They tried to ask more questions but Hoseok politely bowed and backed away. Jin stood up to speak again.
“Can we get any sort of statement from Miss Kim?” asked a reporter towards the back. SooJin looked nervously towards Hoseok. He patted her arm again.
“You don’t have to, it’s okay,” he whispered.
“As we informed you beforehand,” Jin told them, “my sister is still getting comfortable with everything and she won’t be speaking. I can address any questions you may have.”
“Oppa,” SooJin called quietly. Jin turned, surprised to hear her speak up. “I... um...”
Jin walked back to her. “Do you want to say something?” SooJin nodded. “Would you like me to say it for you?” She started to nod her head but then shook it instead.
“I think... I can... maybe...” her voice grew quiet.
“Are you sure?” She reached for his hand. He held it out and she used it to help herself up. “Crutches?”
She shook her head. “Can you just help me?”
He smiled lovingly. “Of course.” He helped her slowly walk to the podium. The room was quiet as the reporters waited for her words. Once at the podium, she looked to Jin and then back at the others in the back of the room. JiEun, Taehyung, and Jungkook made hearts with their arms. SooJin smiled. She froze when she found Jimin looking at her the way he used to. The friendly, almost loving, way he used to. It settled her nervousness.
She looked at over the throng of reporters and then back to Jimin. Between Jin’s hand and Jimin’s eyes, she felt like she might be able to do this.
“I just wanted... uh, thank you for coming and giving us a chance to talk to you. I’m sorry I’m not a good speaker but... well, I never thought I’d end up here.” SooJin chuckled and the reporters followed suit. Even Jimin smiled. She felt a surge of warmth. This time, she allowed her gaze to wander. “This last month has been a series of ups and down. I was in an accident and temporarily lost the ability to walk. I was so scared. I found out that I wasn’t who I thought I was, which was also scary. But it also meant that I had a family; a family I could only have dreamed of. Even before knowing who I was, Jin and the others treated me like family, like a friend. I was happy with that and never thought I could be happier.
“I had someone calling me unnie and many calling me noona. I felt like I belonged. After finding out who I was, nothing changed with us, because they already made me part of their family. They and my parents helped me get through the hard time I had while in the hospital.” She took a deep breath. “And it angers me that because of their kindness, their names are being dragged through the mud. Were my parents wrong for letting me breathe? Giving me a chance to get used to a huge change in my life? I would like to think that showing kindness is not a punishable offense.
“The person who did this should feel ashamed of themselves. They tried to make my family and my friend into liars and conartists. I find that to be completely unacceptable. And to those who latched onto the story without checking actual facts, you should feel ashamed as well. At the same time, I want to thank those of you who waited before publishing such stories. And to those of you who did publish the stories but are here to correct your mistakes, I am also appreciative. And I hope that you would learn from this in the future. Please give people, whoever they are, the chance to speak before stuffing words in their mouths. Treat them with the same respect you would want to be treated with. That’s all anyone can ask for. And… that’s all... I wanted to say.” Her voice grew quiet again at the end.
She looked to Jimin and found him smiling at her. He almost looked like he was crying, and then he slipped behind some reporters and out the door. Her face fell slightly and she looked to Jin. He smiled.
“That was perfect,” he said quietly.
“You have quite the orator in your family, Mr. Kim,” remarked a reporter to their father.
Mr. Kim stood next to his daughter. “Apparently, I do. I just learned something new about her,” he laughed. The reporters joined in. SooJin bowed politely and Jin walked her back to her seat. Jin chuckled at her shaking form and she shot him a playful glare.
Mr. Kim wrapped up the conference after a few more remarks. When it was over, the ones on the stage made their way back to a room in the back. The others joined shortly after. SooJin watched Jimin come in, hoping to see that smile again. But his face was blank, how it had been for the last month. SooJin immediately felt disappointed again.
JiEun hugged her. “You did such a great job, unnie.” The others agreed. They talked for a bit longer, SooJin trying to sneak glances at an uninterested Jimin.
Finally, Jin spoke up. “Who wants dinner?”
Mr. Kim insisted on treating them to dinner at a nice restaurant. There was laughter for most of the entire dinner. Jin and SooJin had talked about telling their parents about the rest of SooJin’s past that they hadn’t said yet. But as the night wore on, SooJin was feeling more and more tired. The events from the last week weighed on her. She thought she would be feeling up to it, especially after Jimin’s change in behavior at the conference. But now, he was back to his baseline and SooJin felt her confidence waver. She asked to tell them in the morning and Jin readily obliged, not realizing something was wrong.
As dinner came to a close, Mrs. Kim informed them that SooJin’s birthday was a month away. SooJin was surprised to hear that. There was so much she had learned about her real self that she had forgotten a lot of it. She was sure she had been told before, it had just slipped her mind. And being reminded of that also reminded her that if she had still thought she was Jiyoung, her birthday would have been a week from now.
Mrs. Kim told them that she wanted to have a birthday party at their house. She told SooJin that she understood if SooJin didn’t want a party, she was an adult after all. But SooJin told her mother that she was more than excited at the idea. She hadn’t had a birthday party in so long. And now she had family and friends to share it with.
Her mother had briefly talked to SooJin about her possibly moving into her parents’ house, but SooJin had said that she liked living where she was currently. Especially because it would be another change in a series of changes and she wasn’t sure if she could handle that. Her mother was disappointed but also understood. Mrs. Kim asked if SooJin would be willing to maybe make her birthday party a sleepover just so that she could have her daughter back even for one night. SooJin was, of course, happy to oblige.
After dinner, everyone drove home. Jin informed their parents of their plans to come over the next day. He didn’t say exactly what it was about, but he told them it was something important they needed to know. They readily agreed and asked them to come over for lunch or dinner. Lunch was agreed upon.
The next day, SooJin was a little more rested. They went over and ate lunch with their parents. After lunch, they told their parents everything that had been left out of the press conference; the things that happened to her while she was adopted, the things that she had done to herself... SooJin could tell them about the abuse, but the suicide attempts... she felt a deep wrenching in her chest when she tried to make the words come out. She had felt so ashamed when she found out the others knew about it. She was certain that it probably played a role in Hoseok being so adamant about finding a way to get her out of the hospital.
But she had been worried for nothing. All of them supported her and told her that they understood. They didn’t treat her any differently. But it was still hard to admit it from her own lips. Jin was kind enough to do it for her. SooJin held her mother when she burst into tears. SooJin assured both of her parents again and again that it wasn’t their fault and that everything had turned out well. She promised them that she was happy and that something like that would never happen again. SooJin told them that as much as they didn’t want to have to tell them, they had to in case the media uncovered something. They didn’t want their parents to hear if from the media first. Jin and SooJin stayed at the house for another couple hours to talk. After that, they went home.
Over the next few weeks, SooJin had tried to hold on to the hope Jungkook had given her. It was hard when Jimin continued to ignore her. But over time, she thought she was starting to see cracks in the previously flawless mask. Jimin felt those cracks himself and tried that much harder to stay away; to keep his promise.
SooJin pushed herself during her PT sessions that she could now attend back at the hospital. After more time on the forearm crutches, she moved to a walking cane that was to be used ‘just in case’.
Three weeks after the conference, on a Friday night, SooJin was ‘studying’ in the living room. No one had heard from Jimin all day and it was now almost one a.m. Most of the others insisted that Jimin was out at a club, looking to go back to his previous habit, but Jungkook insisted that there had to be something else. SooJin desperately held onto that. Plus, after that first incident, Jimin had said how much he hated that part of him. He’d later confessed exactly how much he hated it, how he had been addicted to the thrill and the quick feeling. But he had told her he wanted to stop. So why would he go back on that now?
SooJin’s head jerked up when she saw headlights pull up in front of the house. She quickly stood up when she heard the key scraping against the door, trying to find the slot. The porch light was on so... was he actually drunk? SooJin felt a sinking feeling. The door was unlocked and opened and Jimin stumbled. SooJin was worried for a second until she saw the hand he was holding. And then the rest of the woman was pulled past the threshold. SooJin’s heart shattered like dropped crystal bowl. Tears slipped down her face.
Jimin didn’t notice SooJin at first. He was too busy dealing with the annoying woman he’d picked up. She’d been attached to him since the second he stepped into the club. Everything about her annoyed him: her outfit, her obnoxious laugh, her almost nonexistent personality, the way she touched him. When she asked him to take her home, he’d first had the urge to shrug her off of him. But then he remembered, needing a distraction like her was the exact reason he’d come to the club. She was so different from the woman he was in love with. And maybe she was just what he needed to keep that wall up forever.
As he was closing the door, he finally saw SooJin. He saw the plain pajamas she was wearing, her hair that was up in a messy bun, held up by a pencil, her looks that were so much more subtle than the woman currently latched onto him. And he saw how much more beautiful and attractive SooJin was. The tears that trailed down her face tore him apart. He just wanted to run to her and tell her how sorry he was, how much he loved her, and kiss every single inch of her pained face. But he couldn’t. He’d promised. And now, more than ever, he had to stay strong.
He turned away and pulled the woman to the stairs. He froze when he heard the sound of a single sob. And then he kept going, tears building in his eyes. Because he’d promised. And he could never let there be a chance of her being in physical danger again.
SooJin clapped a hand over her mouth when a sob escaped her. As soon as she heard Jimin’s door close, she stumbled to her room. The cane did not help much when she almost fell on the stairs. Once she reached her room, SooJin didn’t know if she was going to throw up or just cry forever. When the door closed, the dam of tears burst and she slid slowly to the floor. How had she been so stupid? How had she dared to let herself hope again? She should have known that it wasn’t a deception, that Jimin just hated her. She felt like she would cry forever.
Then she thought of something; it was all Jungkook’s fault. He was the one who convinced her to give Jimin another chance, to trust him, to allow herself some hope. Despair was redirected into anger. She wiped at her tears. She decided to wake Jungkook up and give him a piece of her mind. How dare he give her hope like that! She collected herself, grabbed her cane, and opened her door. Before she could even take a step into the hallway, she heard a woman yelling.
“Asshole! Bastard!” SooJin carefully stuck her head out. It was the woman Jimin had brought. SooJin’s heart clenched at the memory of that woman pressing herself tightly against Jimin, the two of them walking up the stairs together. She watched the woman storm down the hall to the staircase. As soon as she was gone from sight, SooJin stepped out into the hallway. A few seconds later, she heard the front door slam shut.
What could possibly have happened? It hadn’t even been 10 minutes since the two came in. Why was that woman leaving? And why was she leaving in that state? Did something happen? Like metal being pulled by a magnet, SooJin couldn’t fight as her body started to walk down the hall. She didn’t want to go, but she had to. She had to... The anger melted away as that small seed of hope reminded her that it was still there.
When SooJin reached the study next to Jungkook’s room, she could see that Jimin’s door was still open. She slowly walked to the doorway. Jimin was sitting on his bed, head in hands. All of a sudden, he grabbed his alarm clock and threw it against the wall next to the door with a strangled yell. SooJin stepped back to avoid the shards of plastic that flew everywhere. It was then that Jimin saw her.
Jimin's finally at his breaking point. After his stupid, douchey move, what do you think it gonna happen? Will he find another way to shrug SooJin off? Or will he finally be forced to tell her everything? What do you think? All I can tell you for now is be prepared for the next chapter. Also, we're down to the last batch of chapters. Everything will end one way or the other soon enough. And for all your annoyance at Jimin, I hope I'm able to make it up.
Next chapter will be out on Wednesday.