I originally planned on posting the synopsis today! But then, before I could save whatever I’d typed, my dumb computer crashed and all my hardwork went down the drain! @*)($(&$%%^
So, I’m back with the next part of the chapter.
Chapter 3 (Part 2): Saving Grace.
The young man wearing the gray beguine coat stood outside the modest building in Pyeongchang-dong, watching the girl shuffle inside the building with the fat woman helping her with the luggage.
A few minutes later, the fat woman came out alone. When she saw him, her eyes widened and a bright red blush spread on her plump cheeks. She hurried over to him.
“Oh, sir!” she stuttered, “I didn’t see you here! I hope you haven’t been standing out here for long! I was just helping out one of my tenants…”
“I just came here, ma’am!” he cut in smoothly, “I trust that I am in the right place?”
“Of course, sir! Shall I show you into your apartment?”
“No, there will be no need of that. I will move in later. Just leave the keys to me”
“Oh! Here you go,” she said, fishing in her purse and pulling out a single key.
“Thank you, ma’am!” he said, politely.
“Oh please!” she said, laughing and throwing her hand on his arm, “Call me Regina!”
“Regina, if you please!” he corrected himself, smiling and yet moving out of her grasp.
“Your manners are lovely, my dear!” she complimented.
“Thank you, Regina!” he smiled back.
As soon as she tottered off, his face contorted nastily. “Silly woman!” he muttered to himself.
He walked over to the backside of the building. There were three balconies in a single line, separated only by a space of a few inches. The middle one had to be Jia’s.
He leaned against a tree and stared at her balcony. His phone buzzed. He checked the number.
It was Master.
“Greetings. Is everything going smoothly?”
“As smoothly as it can, Master.”
“And the girl—you are near the girl, aren’t you?”
He looked up at her balcony. “Yes, Master. As near as I can get now.”
“Good. Do whatever you have to. Choose any shade or character you want to. I give you carte blanche on your role in this mission. Just take care of both the people I asked you to and complete this mission successfully.”
“As you say, Master.” He looked up at her balcony one last time before he left for then.
It was true that he wasn’t moving in immediately. After all, he was a man on a mission.
And he had some very important things to take care of.
The sun setting over Seoul was a beautiful scene to watch. But Kim Joon had other things in his mind—moving into a new house and embracing a partly-new identity. Everything about him was a lie, except his name.
He was standing in front of the door of his new apartment, while the landlady struggled with the lock. She was all over him like goo, and he couldn’t wait to get rid of her.
He had wontedly arrived hours after Jia had arrived, so that she won’t smell anything fishy. He had spent all the time until then, in the Airport’s lounge.
Tired with standing outside the door, he tried to take the key from the landlady. But she put her hand on his arm, saying, “No, no, dear, it’s alright! I will do it.”
He gave her a cold stare, before wrenching his arm back. She shrank under his withering gaze. He couldn’t bear being touched since last year, since her.
She stammered a nervous apology and immediately left after opening the door, without a backward glance.
He walked in alone and locked the door behind him. He gave a cursory glance at all the appliances provided in the apartment. He could see some of the hi-tech gadgets which NIS Agents use undercover, already in place. Somebody must have taken care of all of it even before he arrived.
Then he collapsed on the couch, and turned on the T.V, mindlessly flipping through channels. He finally stopped at old re-runs of City Hunter starring Lee Min-ho and Park Min-young. His fingers played with the chain around his neck.
The phone in the room rang. He ignored it, absorbed in the show.
The alarm clock suddenly rang shrilly, and X’s mechanical voice floated from the speaker attached to it, “Agent Kim, I advise you to answer your phone. The Director is on the other end of the line.”
Joon smirked, as he challenged, “What if I don’t?”
He turned back to the T.V. Seconds later, the T.V went blank. This time, X’s voice came from the T.V’s speakers, and his polite tone felt like insult to the injury, as he said, “Agent Kim, as you have already seen the minor part of the repercussions of not answering the Director’s calls, I hope you’ve cultivated enough sense to choose the right path.”
He cursed and turned to answer when the phone rang again.
“Since when have you used your resources to hack into innocent Agents’ T.Vs?” he demanded, indignantly, as soon as he answered.
“From the time they ignored the Call of Duty,” answered his father.
“Isn’t it unlawful or something like that?”
“Not when it comes to Duty.”
“You and your Duty. You should have married Duty instead of my mom. At least I wouldn’t have to suffer calling you my father.”
“Some of us care more about our country than others,” snapped his father.
“Sure, you do. But at the expense of the countrymen,” he answered back, equally cutting.
“This again?” asked his father, finally sounding tired, “Why are you so keen on rehashing that incident? Can’t you just forget it as a freak mishap and leave it?”
“Nope! And don’t you dare pass it off as a mishap.”
“Fine, then. Back to work,” his father said, curtly, “Are you safely installed at your location?”
“Yup, I am. And what is my charade this time?”
“You are a first year student pursuing a Bachelor’s in Ethical Hacking in Seoul School of Computer Sciences.”
Joon coughed and spluttered, “Are you kidding me? I would do better as Jia’s Professor than as her classmate!”
“Perhaps, yes. But then, a Professor can’t always be as close to a student as much a classmate can.”
He made a face, as his father continued, “Don’t worry! I have thought through it all. I have talked to the School’s Director, and he has agreed to help us in our mission. Your cover story is that you lost your entire family sans your kid brother in an accident as a sophomore. And you were busy all these years, working hard to feed yourself and your hapless brother. Now that the boy has found a job, you feel that you ought to catch up on your education. So, boom! You’re now studying with kids who are almost seven years junior to you!”
“Yeah, it all sounds so convincing!” he said, sarcastically, “I can feel tears in my eyes.”
“If you have a better cover story, please feel free to disclose it to me.”
“I am still inclined to the Professor-student relationship.”
“That won’t take you very far.”
“I can’t pull this off. I haven’t been to a normal school in almost eight years!”
“You’re working undercover. If the situation demands it, you ought to adapt yourself to any role. Or have you forgotten your training?”
“I am a goddamned NIS Agent. Not an actor.”
“Jia’s life is in danger.”
“You’re hardly worthy to even utter her name.”
“This isn’t about who is worth to do what. This is about her life.”
Joon sighed in defeat. What else could he do, after all? His father was using his one weakness to punch him in the gut and to use him like a puppet.
“Alright. I’m a student then.”
He could almost hear his father’s sphinx-like smile, as he said, “I knew that you would accept.”
“I know.” Only because you stripped me off my choices.
As soon as the call ended, the T.V show resumed exactly where it disappeared. But he was not in a mood to watch it, anymore. He threw the phone on the couch angrily. Then he walked over and opened the refrigerator, to find a can of Red Bull.
He walked outside to the balcony, and stood there sipping the drink from the can and watching the sun dip below the horizon.
As another day came to an end, he could feel his weariness catching up to him. Every single day seemed like a desert through which he had to wade. His fingers involuntarily tightened on the chain.
And he knew that the only saving grace in his life is the girl called Lee Jia.
I’m currently struggling to find time to update the chapters because of real-life demands. But I’ll try my level best to do so.
I don’t know how many of you have noticed this, but I saw that the Master is giving more freedom to his protege to do whatever he wants to than Joo-won is giving to his son. This dynamic says a lot. Mostly because that speaks about the trust level each team has on it’s members.