“Min jae?” Joo won called after studying who the person might be.
Smiling, she stood up with her arms stretched out as she walked closer to him. “It’s me! I thought you wouldn’t recognize me! I would have been really disappointed.”
“I almost didn’t recognize you. What are you doing here?”
“Is that how you greet someone you’ve not seen for a very long time?” she asked as she dropped her extended arm. “That’s not nice. You should have at least asked how I’ve been doing.” Shaking her head, she walked round his office. “Whoa! This place has really changed a lot. You did a lot of furnishing. I also noticed the change at home. Whoa! It has been long. How long has it been? Nine years? Ten?”
“Ah!” she exclaimed as she clapped her hands. “Right! Twelve years. It’s been twelve years and you’re not showing any sign that you missed me. How then will you react to someone you’ve not seen for fifteen years? I wonder. Well, if you didn’t miss me, I did.”
“What about Sung jae? Did you two come together?”
“Ani. He came before me.”
“Are you just coming from the airport?”
“Of course not!”” she snapped. “Do you think this is the first place I’ll come to after entering this country? I went home first.”
“Why didn’t you rest then, you must have been tired from the journey.”
“Well, truly I’m tired,” she started as she moved closer to him. “But, what can I do? I wanted to see you.” Pausing, she gave him a long stare. “Or can’t I? Ommeonim told me I’ll find you here and…….voila! Here you are! The President of Haewon Group! Whoa! What an achievement! Congratulations.”
Laughing, Min jae walked up to the couch and picked up her bag before reaching for her smartphone. Joo won knew there was something more to her laughter because it sounded like she was being sarcastic. When he joined the Lee family fifteen years ago, Sung jae left for the states a week after but Min jae was asked to stay back until she was twelve before she could join her brother. Joo won spent three unpleasant years with Min jae before she left because she was always been sarcastic. She acted friendly whenever she felt like and she acted rude whenever she felt like. The three years he spent with her was enough for him to know her well.
“I guess you haven’t changed one bit.” He commented as he walked to his seat, the one she had been sitting on.
“Did you expect me to? The same goes for you.” She said smiling as she walked towards the door. “Do you remember what I told you before I left? Buckle up and be watchful, you never know how long you’ll stay in a place or position. You probably never forgot that right? I didn’t even know what I meant then, but I guess you should know that now is the time for you to apply my little advice.”
“What are you saying?”
“I wonder. What am I saying?” she asked nonchalantly as she opened the door. “I don’t mean to say anything much, just be at alert. Ah! And lest I forget, I thought you might like it if I change the way I call you, Joo won-sshi or…..” Pausing, she looked at him closely with a serious face before smiling again. “……Oppa?”
Smiling, Min jae walked out of his office leaving him angry and confused at the same time. He wasn’t expecting them to be back in the country but he knew he had to take necessary measures now that they were back. He wasn’t sure of what Sung jae was capable of doing but he was very sure that Min jae was full of several cunny ideas. Having her around was enough warning for him and he wasn’t ready to let his guard down. Walking out several minutes after she left, he approached Eun ju, his secretary.
“Check out the activities of Lee Sung jae and Lee Min jae for me.” He ordered her. “I want to know when they got back to the country and I want you to follow them up and report everything they do directly to me. Do you understand?”
“Yes sir.” She replied standing up.
“I want you to start working on that immediately.” He added as he turned to leave
“President!” she called him back.
Joo won stopped in his tracks and turned back.
“Who are they?” she asked.
“You’ll get to know when you start working on what I asked you to do.” He replied and turned to leave.
“Joo won-sshi!” she shouted his name as she couldn’t resist calling him back. It wasn’t like she had anything to tell him or say to him. Joo won turned back only to meet her gaze and when she kept quiet and said nothing, he walked away finally. Sighing, Eun ju sat down while her co-secretary, Kwon Seul bi who noticed Eun ju walked up to her
“Are you still doubting?” Seul bi asked her suddenly.
“Ya!” she exclaimed at her suddenness. “You startled me! What?”
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?”
“What?” she asked feigning ignorance.
“The president likes you.”
“Ya! What nonsense are you talking about? How I wish. He doesn’t act like he does. I’ve known him for a very long time even before he became the president.”
“What if he does?”
“Well,” she started giving it a thought before turning to face Seul bi abruptly. “Ya! Don’t even think about it.”
“What? I was just saying.” She replied as she was about going back to her seat when she turned back to face her again.
“Ah, what again?”
“How about you? You like him, don’t you?”
“Seul bi-ah.” She called gently.
“Get back to work.”
Gyeongil Police Station
Still in the office of the Squad leader of the homicide department, Ji ha’s phone rang the third time jilting her awake from her sleep. Sitting up, she rubbed her eyes, removed the phone from her pocket and answered it.
“Yes?” she replied the caller still feeling sleepy. Sighing, she nodded her head as she continued rubbing her head. “Yes.” She replied again and all of a sudden, her eyes went wide opened as she paused listening to the caller at the other end. “Eh?!” she exclaimed.
Pausing, she searched her pocket frantically for her wristwatch only for her to stand up when she found it and scream in shock upon realizing what the time was.
“What?! Again? Aishhhhhh! Seriously!” she kept on exclaiming as she rushed to the door. “Arasso. I’m on my way! And I’m really sorry!”
She was about leaving when she suddenly turned back to find the guy who she had been talking to before she fell asleep still reading the book in front of him. Angrily, she pointed her index and middle finger at him before directing it to her eyes in a way to tell him that she had her eyes on him. He noticed what she did but pretended not to and gave a sneer. Seeing that he gave her a smirk and acted like she was invisible, Ji ha frustratingly raised her fist at him but remembering the phone call she received not too long, she hurried out.
Scoffing, he closed the book he was reading minutes after she left and walked out of the office. Getting downstairs, Squad leader Park Woo jin walked into the station with three other officers. He was about going towards another direction when he noticed the guy coming from his office.
“Harry!” he exclaimed as he walked closer to him throwing him a tight hug. Releasing him after a few seconds, he examined him closely. “Whoa! You’ve changed a lot! When was the last time I saw you? Has it been up to five years?
“It’s more than.” He replied smiling.
“Really? Your hyung is getting old already.” He replied jokingly as he turned to the female officer beside him. “Officer Oh, write the report and submit it on my desk.”
“Me?” officer Oh asked as she pointed to herself. “Why should I do it? Officer Jin is available, why should I do it? Tell her to do it.”
“Oh Go byul, do what you’re asked to do.” He ordered sharply.
“No buts.” He interrupted before turning to Harry. “Lets go have some drinks.”
Squad leader Park Woo jin went out with Harry leaving Officer Oh fuming with anger. She wondered why he was always asking her to do menial works such as writing reports when it was clear that he didn’t like her and neither did she like him.
“He’s always acting all mighty! What will take him to write the report himself?” she asked herself before turning to face an uninterested Officer Jin. “But why is he making me do all the work? Is it some kind of punishment? What exactly did I do wrong? Last I checked, he doesn’t ask you to do stuffs like this. Why me?”
“Why are you asking me? You should ask him. Just behave well, he’s going to be our team leader soon.”
“Never!” she replied sharply. “I pray it’s someone else.”
“Who else is better than him in this station? Its obviously going to be him. I just hope people like those don’t get a chance.” She told her as she sighted another officer walk in. “You had better hurry up and do what he asked you to do. I’m sure you won’t want him getting at you this night.”
“Aishhh!” Officer Oh exclaimed as she noticed the officer that entered. “Seriously, today is just not my day.” She was about rushing upstairs when the officer called her back.
“Officer Oh Go byul!” Detective Man bo called her.
Giving an awkward smile, she turned back and greeted him. “Sunbae-nim, you’re back.”
Coming out of a corner, Ji ha rushed into a building quickly and stopped in front of one of the apartments. She knew she was already in trouble, but she had no choice than to face it.
It’s just for tonight, she assured herself, I promise not to make this repeat itself again.
Quickly, she entered the pin and hurried inside. Getting inside, she paused upon seeing her friend Go Ye jun lying helplessly on the couch while a guy sat opposite her. Cursing Go Ye jun that moment wouldn’t be of any help and all she just had to do was to quickly rush her out of that apartment, but before she could do that, she had to go through the right process of making remedy for what her friend had done. Quickly, she rushed to meet the guy, Han Ji soo who looked like he was going to hit her anytime soon and knelt down in front of him.
“Oppa, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.” She apologized.
“Who else knows my password?” Ji soo asked without looking at her as he kept a fixed gaze on Ye jun.
“No one!” she replied quickly. “I’m serious. No one. She’s the only one.”
Ye jun’s handbag fell as she stirred on the couch interrupting Ji ha’s apologies to Ji soo. “You bad jerk!” she muttered as she stirred again. Both Ji ha and Ji soo turned to look at her. Ji soo wiped his face with his bare palm while Ji ha bit her lips in regret as she turned to face him.
“You!” Ji soo pointed at Ji ha trying not to take his anger on her. “I don’t know what to do with you.”
“Let it pass just this once, uhn. Jebal, I’m begging you.”
Without waithing for an answer, she stood up and walked up to the couch where Ye jun was. “Seriously! Just how much did you have to drink!” she shouted at her as she tried to kick her awake. “Ya! Ye jun! Wake up! Ya!”
“That person- that person is a bad jerk!” Ye jun continued muttering in her sleep leaving a already frustrated Ji ha to go on with kicking her awake.
“Are you not standing up?” she asked taking a pause only to sigh at her pitiable and annoying state. “Let’s get you out of here first.”
Ji ha managed to force her to stand up and supported her in walking towards the door.
“Oppa,” she called turning back briefly. “I’ll call you!”
Smiling at the drama she had been performing before helping Ye jun up, he stood up and helped her with the door. “Go home, Ji ha.” He advised.
Minutes after walking down from the police station, Park Woo jin and Harry stopped by Ommeonim’s restaurant. Walking into the restaurant, they both sat down to talk after ordering for drinks. An elderly woman brought them what they ordered for before they kicked off their conversation.
“This is the first time I’m drinking after returning back.” Harry started as he poured Woo jin a drink before pouring himself.
“Really? Then I guess I’m getting the honor of drinking with you.” Woo jin raised his glass up to meet with Harry’s glass. “Cheers!” He exclaimed as he gulped down the glass. “When did you get back?”
“Did you go home?”
“No.’ he replied as he took a sip. “And I don’t intend to.”
“Are you saying they don’t know you’re back?”
“Hyung,” Harry called looking at him closer. “Aren’t you happy that I’m spending my time with you?”
“Look at you. Of course, I am.” He replied as he poured himself another drink. “But why did you change your mind? When I was coming back from the states some years ago, I asked you to come back with me but you said you didn’t want to return back home. Should I ask why you said that or why you didn’t come with me.”
“Hyung, we didn’t go together in the first place, why would I want to follow you back.”
“Ah! Is that so? See this little rascal. Why did you decide to come back now then.”
“I’ve figured out there’s a lot of things to do at home rather than staying over there wasting my time.”
“A lot of things. Like what?”
“Just…..things I have to do.” He replied as he took another sip. “But, hyung, I was wondering why you had to leave early. Was it to become a detective?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” He replied as he turned back to order for another drink. “Ajumma! Can I have one more bottle please?”
“Arasso” The restaurant ajumma replied.
“I had to leave so as to prepare and take the exam.” He explained to Harry
Folding his arms, Harry gave him a concerned look. “Why?”
“What do you mean by why?”
“You were studying Business administration in the states, why did you suddenly change your mind to become a detective? There must have been reason, don’t you think?”
“The same reason I became a detective is the same reason you came back.” He gave him a straight reply.
“Am I wrong? It’s because of her, isn’t it? I know you still think of her and so do I. One of the reasons you’re here is related to her. I’m not sure of what you plan to do but the main reason I became a detective is because of her and I’m going to…….”
“Revenge.” Harry interrupted.
“What?” he asked unsure of if he heard what he said correctly.
“Revenge.” He replied with a straight face. “I came back to revenge.”
“Are you crazy? Ya! You rascal! What do you think you’re saying? Revenge? For who? Who do you think you want to get revenge for? Hye jin? My sister? Ya! If there is anyone that has the right to get revenge for her, it should be me! But I’m not thinking about that and here you are telling me you want to get revenge.”
“You had the same thought fifteen years ago! You also vowed to get revenge for her!” Harry snapped.
“That was fifteen years ago! Ya! Harry, you rascal! The only thing left to do is to find out what happened then, if there are any culprits behind it, fish them out and send them to jail. So don’t think of doing anything.”
“Isn’t it a bit too late for that? You’re asking me to do something impossible. I didn’t do anything fifteen years ago and I’m not ready to repeat that same mistake after fifteen years.”
“Harry.” Woo jin called softly. “There’s nothing you can do. It’s been fifteen years now and doing this won’t bring her back.”
“And looking for the culprit will bring her back?”
“It’s not about it bringing her back or not, it’s about revealing the truth of what exactly happened.”
“It’s not like anyone cares to know what happened! Who would be interested to know what happened to a 12 years old girl who obviously died in a fire accident? The conclusion then was that she was unfortunate to pass by the storeroom when the fire had already started. Why? Because she was found lying dead just by the entrance of the storeroom. The detectives then concluded on that but that wasn’t what happened! What difference would you make? You’re obviously not going to find out anything about that incident.”
“How then do you want to get revenge? Its not like you’re any different from me. We both know nothing of what happened.”
“It’s like you’re forgetting that I was there that night.” Harry pointed out.
Sighing, Woo jin poured himself another drink and gulped it down. “Why can’t you just give me a chance for once? I’ve never won any argument with you back in the states and here we are back home and its still the same.”
“That’s because I don’t argue when I’m wrong.” Harry replied as he took another sip from his cup. “Its funny how we start arguing and how we end it. How is it going? You being a detective, how is it like?”
“It’s not as easy as I thought it was.” He replied taking down another drink. Ever since I became a detective, I’ve been trying not to…….”
He was interrupted at the tone of his phone. Bringing out the phone from his pocket, he checked the caller and sighed, looking reluctant to answer the call. Harry poured himself another drink as he watched Woo jin receive his call like he was been forced to.
“Uhn, Eun ju-ah.” He paused. “I’m not helping you this time around.” He paused again. “I’m really serious. I told you the last time.”
After few minutes, the line was disconnected and Harry helped him with another drink.
“Who was that.” He asked.
“Just a stubborn girl I know.” He replied as he gulped down the drink Harry just poured him.
“Uhn. You’ll get to meet her soon. How about Ella? Is she fine?”
“Uhn. She told me she’ll come today. She should be around already. I’ll call her later.”
“You should. What do you intend to start doing from tomorrow?”
“Work of course.”
I saw an offer for a job and I applied. Luckily, I was notified to start working immediately.”
“Why do you have to work?” he asked surprised and confused.
“Hyung, it’s to make a living. How can someone that doesn’t work survive? Of course I have to work so I can survive.”
“But talking about you, do you have to……”
Another phone call interrupted him, but this time when he checked, it was from work.
“Yes, officer Oh.” He answered quickly and paused. “Alright! Get Team A ready, I’ll be there soon.” Disconnecting the line, he stood up and took a last drink quickly before patting Harry. “I have to leave now.”
‘Hope its not something serious?”
“We’ve managed to track down someone we’ve been after for two years now. I’ll call you later.” He explained quickly before leaving.
“Hyung!” He stood up quickly and shouted after him. “Let me go with you!”
“Later!” he replied from afar.
Harry had no other option than to sit with the drinks and watch Woo jin stop a taxi from a far distance and within few seconds he was out of sight. Bringing out his phone and an old sim card, he inserted the sim card into the phone and dialed a contact he saved as ‘Ella, my treasure’. He didn’t even wait for three seconds before the receiver picked up the call.
“Oppa!” she exclaimed. “I thought you’ve forgotten about me! Where are you? I tried calling you when I got to the airport. I even thought you changed your number immediately you got back.”
“Look at you. Have you been expecting my call that badly that you couldn’t even wait before picking up?” he teased.
“Uhn.” She replied quickly. “Besides, I’m angry that you didn’t call at all.”
“But I’m calling now.” He defended himself.
“You should have called earlier.” She insisted. “Whatever! Are you fine? Where are you?”
“One at a time, lady. I’m fine and about where I am,…..” he paused looking round. “…..I’m not sure, but I was with Hyung not too long.”
“Hyung? Woo jinOppa?”
“Really? Did he ask of me?”
“Nothing.” She replied quickly. “Are you coming home?”
“Ani. I’m not.”
“Ya! Don’t worry about me and start worrying about yourself.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“When will you start working as a fellow?”
“In the next two days.”
“Make your Oppa proud so I’ll be able to call you my only reliable doctor, okay?”
“Why do you sound like I might not be able to see you for some time? Oppa?” she asked with an obvious change in her tone. She knew her Oppa so well that she could predict whatever was wrong with him judging from the look on his face and the tone of his voice. “Oppa, what do you plan to do?”
“Ella….” He started.
“Oppa, I know you.” She interrupted. “I thought you came back because of me at first, but when I thought about it, I figured out it wasn’t because of me, seeing that you came ahead of me. It’s because of her, right? I know it’s because of her. Park Hye jin. You still think about her, don’t you? You should forget about what happened then. It’s gone and it was nobody’s fault. You don’t have to feel like you owe anything, and you should forget about what happened then and forget about her now, she’s gone and it’s been very long now.”
Harry paused and thought about what she said. He kept quiet for a short while. “Oppa.” He heard Ella’s voice from the other line leaving him with no choice than to talk.
“How can I forget about her? How do you expect me to forget about her and forget what happened then?”
“But you did nothing.”
“That is what is wrong. I did nothing. That is exactly the problem. Do you know what mother said before she died? ‘Do your best to protect Hye jin, I owe her something. When the time comes, you will be the one to give what I owe back to her, but until then, stay by her side and protect her’. That was what mother said on her sick bed but I couldn’t fulfill mother’s wish. I did nothing back then and I did nothing all this while for fifteen years, but I’m not going to stand back anymore. I don’t have a plan yet and I don’t know where this is going to lead to, but I promise not to stand back anymore.”
“Oppa, what are you going to do? Uhn? What do you plan to do?”
“Revenge! I’ll do everything possible to…..”
“Oppa! Are you crazy? Revenge? Is that the only thing you can think about? I had better get through Woo jin Oppa and tell him about your crazy plan! I heard he’s a detective now. He should……”
“I told him already.”
“You did?” she paused and sighed. “I understand you, but Oppa, if I was Park Hye jin, I wouldn’t want you to do that. I’ll want you to move on with your life and act like it never happened. I’ll want you to live happily and do something good with your life rather than spending your time to dig up what happened long ago. Uhn.”
“That’s good, since you’re not Hye jin.”
“But still…….” Pausing, she took a deep breath as she gave it a faint thought. “……Oppa, I wasn’t as close to Hye jin like you were, but still, she was my friend. Believe me, Hye jin wouldn’t want you to do this.”
“Don’t cause any trouble when you become a resident and make sure you listen well to your seniors, arasso. I’ll call you some other time.”
“And make sure you eat well since you’re at home. I don’t want to see those neck bones of yours when next I see you, okay.”
Before she could say any other thing. Harry disconnected the line and replaced the sim card before ordering for another bottle of Soju.
To be continued.