nerd!jimin + unknown territory (pt3)
Jimin stared at the larvae sitting across from him, warily, it was currently trying to eat spaghetti with a knife. He should probably stop it, but that meant touching the thing and then he would—
“Stop looking at my kid like that.” You roll your eyes before replacing her knife with a fork and watching a happy little grin stretch across her face.
“Like what?” Jimin clears his throat.
“Like you’re having an entire internal monologue listing all the reasons you’ll never have kids.” You mutter, using a napkin to wipe stray sauce from Mina’s face.
“I’m not doing that.” He says and he shrinks when you pin him with a hard stare, “What? I’m not! I did that on the drive over here – now I’m just watching in mild fascination at the eating habits of—”
“Oh my God.”
“I’m kidding! I’m kidding!” He laughs when you move to get up, he tugs you back down by the wrist and you ignore the butterflies erupting your chest when he takes a second too long to remove his hand, “Will you relax already? You’ve barely spoken to me since we’ve ordered. Tell me about yourself, how have you been how did all of this happen?”
“It’s not exactly exciting.” You sigh, “It’s actually a very long story.”
“Let’s start with the basics then – are you still with her father?” Jimin lowers his voice, sparing Mina a glance.
“He left about as soon as I took the pregnancy test so no.” You laugh bitterly, picking up your own slice of pizza to dig in.
You watch helplessly as Mina nearly swipes her pasta off the table but Jimin is on top of it, grabbing her bowl before it makes its crash landing and sending the little girl a stern look before handing her back her fork. She grins unabashedly.
“Do I know him?” Jimin queries, keeping a careful eye on the brat now that she’s decided to make toys out of the cutlery. He sighs but waves over the waitress, “Do you guys have like one of those coloring sheets for kids or something?”
“Sorry sir.” The waitress sends an apologetic smile before moving to refill everyone’s water. Jimin glares but begrudgingly unlocks his phone before opening one of the few games he has stored.
“She’ll crack your phone.” You say mildly, watching in only half amusement as Jimin glares at your daughter when she keeps pressing buttons.
“I’ll buy a new one.” He snaps before he remembers he supposed to be wooing you.
It was too easy, too easy to fall back into the pattern of your old friendship.
You had begrudgingly agreed to dinner with him, only because in turn he allowed you to pick the restaurant, a quaint little mom and pop pizza parlor not too far from your office that you frequented. It wasn’t anything he was used to, at least not in light of recent events and his acquisition of millions, but it was good. One of those places that hand made their crust, they were popular and bustling with business but still managed to find a seat for you. Jimin took quick notice of the warm, familiar smiles sent your way from the old man working the front of house, going as far to boop the little girl you were toting, on one cherub cheek.He was scared someone might break into his car in this neighborhood and you could only roll your eyes because this place was a suburban dream compared to where you stayed.
“No you don’t know him.” You say when you find your heart doing weird floppy things at the sight of your daughter and Jimin interacting so causally – it was something you wanted to erase from your memory because it hurt. “He was some guy I met at college, well before I dropped out to take care of Mina.”
“And your parents?” He asks, a frown marring his face at the thought.
“Disowned me when I wouldn’t abort her.” You shrug as though the words didn’t feel like nails clawing their way up your throat – an old wound re-opened but you feigned indifference pretty well now a days. Even you almost believed your lies.
“So who helps you? You don’t get child support or—”
“Jimin.” You say softly, because it’s in your nature to treat him with kid gloves on, even if he is overstepping, “I’ve been doing this for a while now. It’s tough but I manage. I’m fine – we’re fine. Now can we talk about something less, I don’t know, depressing.”
Jimin lets out a long suffering sigh but he relents with a curt nod, you don’t miss the way the muscle in his jaw jumps – and what a chiseled jaw it’s become over time. You nearly lose track staring at it.
“Where do you work at now?” He asks, momentarily distracted by a piece of cheese hanging from his chin. He lets out an expletive before wincing at Mina.
You stifle a grin because it’s so much like the old Jimin you couldn’t help the elation that bubbled over in your chest. Instead you choose to rest your chin in your palm while watching him.
“I sale time shares at a realty office, though I’m sure you already know that since you tracked me down and sent me gifts.” You murmur dryly when he smiles, “It was very Tony Stark of you.”
“That’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me.” Jimin says honestly, putting a hand over his heart.
“Mmm.” You hum sarcastically, “So how are your parents, living lavish at the hands of their millionaire son I assume?”
“Living lavish.” He scoffs, “You’ve met my parents. My mom barely let me renovate our old house and only did so because I threw a bitch fit that she wouldn’t accept the beachside bungalow I had lined up for them.”
You grin at the thought of a very stern and self sufficient Mrs. Park arguing with her mogul son, because she probably won… but still you making tsking noise anyway.
“Well, in her defense you can be a bit… frivolous with your spending.” You say, nodding towards the bag of gifts seated next to him.
“I work damn hard to be frivolous. You two always did love ganging up on me.” He glared, “You’re so much like her it’s scary.”
“It’s why she loved me.” You tease back. “I’m her favorite child, even Jihyunnie has accepted it.”
Something changes in his face and his expression is softening. You scramble to change the topic because you knew how easy it was to get caught up in the old days, where things were much easier and there was less pressure on you, less weighing on your mind.
“How is he now?” You ask suddenly and Jimin’s features shutter closed – back to the calm, cool and collected Jimin that had picked you up.
“He’s doing good. He’ll graduate in a year.” He says mildly, “He’s still a brat and beating me up on visits.”
“I would hope so. You need someone to keep you grounded, remind you where you came from.” You harrumph.
“They miss you, you know.” Jimin says quietly, suddenly unable to meet your gaze. He’s taken to staring at Mina who was currently taking about a thousand pictures with his front camera. “My mom misses you. You know how she always complained about being the only woman in the house.”
He looks up at you and it’s your turn to look away. Because you had shoved back so many memories that were associated with him, but now sitting here at dinner, reminiscing it was easy to remember the bond you shared with the elder Park. It was something you also couldn’t have back and again, it hurt knowing that.
“I’m sure she’d love to see you again—love to meet Mina too.” He says softly.
“Jimin.” You say curtly and he returns your tone.
“I don’t think that's—”
“You think too much is the problem.” He sighs, before signaling the waitress for the check, “Just because you… because we ended on rough terms… I know it’s a lot to ask but, I hope you don’t hold that against my parents. You were great to have around and they miss you. I’ve never gotten so much shit over something in my life—you would think that we were actually dating.”
You averted your gaze for the millionth time that night because it was true. Though there was no official label between the two of you, you were caught in an open limbo between more than friends but not quite dating. Even if Jimin couldn’t admit a lot of things to himself he was forced to acknowledge that things had been almost domestic between the two of you – between the sheer amount of time you spent over at each other’s places, or in his bed, lazing around doing nothing. When his parents would ask for his whereabouts it was always the same—
“____.” He says quietly, before handing his credit card off to the server, “Think about what I said, yeah?”
“I will.” You reply with a stiff smile.
The silence that was once comfortable between the two of you had some how shifted to a stilted, and unwelcome one at the mention of the past. You find yourself fidgeting in your seat at the weight of his words, because despite it all it was something that you desperately wanted as well.
“Tell me more about your job,” Jimin says, returning the topic to a lighter subject, it didn’t take a genius to notice how tense you’d gotten at the mention of seeing his family again.
“I’m sure it’s not as exciting as being a billionaire.” You say off handedly, going to sip at your wine.
“Millionaire.” Jimin corrects and you scoff at him, “But being rich isn’t as exciting as you’d expect either.”
“How very modest of you,” you roll your eyes before sucking at your teeth, “I would kill for middle class these days.”
“I could help you get there.” He says lightly with a shrug and your spine straightens, “Not a hand out, a job, ____. I looked into your company the other day—”
“You did what?” You ask, indignantly.
And just like that the switch had been flipped again and you were on your guard.
“Is this really a surprise, you knew I was looking for you, it only makes sense that I would check the companies shares and stocks while I was at it. I know you don’t believe me, but we’re friends and I wanted to make sure that you were doing okay for yourself.”
“No Jimin, we were friends ten years ago.” You correct, ears turning pink at his audacity, “And I know you’re out of practice but friends ask friends how they’re doing, they don’t run a financial background check on them.”
“Hey, I didn’t run a financial background check on you,” he scoffs, “I didn’t even peek at your credit score even though it was right their in front of me.”
You threw your napkin down on the table before narrowing your eyes at him, “You’re a real ass you know that?”
“That may be true but you know as well as I do that you wouldn’t be half as defensive if it weren’t for the fact that the companies going
bankrupt.” He says calmly but his knuckles going white around his grip on the table cloth, “They’re going under and you have—”
“Five maybe six months left there, I’m well aware.” You scowl, “but that doesn’t give you the right to invade my privacy like this. And besides, a job? Let me guess you want me to be your assistant so you can bend me over and —”
You chance a look at Mina, who’s still well engrossed with the apps on Jimin’s phone and let out an exasperated sigh.
“You’re lucky if you have four months there.” He says mildly, “Looking at their financial statements I can tell they barely have enough to pay you minimum wage, so let me guess you’ve been working there for going on six years and you’ve yet to get a pay increase am I right?”
“God, you’re so condescending.” You laugh bitterly.
“Only when I’m right.” He says, “And for the record, you wouldn’t be working for me. If you think I stand chance getting any work done while you’re around you’d be delusional. I have a friend who owns a small law firm, he’s looking for a secretary and you’ve had more than enough experience doing clerical work.”
“Your head must be impossibly thick if I have to say this again but I don’t need your help,” you glare.
“Think about Mina.” He argues.
“I am thinking about Mina,” you say, much louder than you intend. You clear your throat before lowering your voice, “She’s the only thing I think about and you don’t get to bulldoze in ten years later and try to pick up where things left off. We’re not in high school anymore. This is real life, it’s my life.”
“You’re right, we’re not in high school anymore but things sure haven’t changed, have they?” He spat, “You still have to be in control of everything.”
“Of my life? Yes! Of my daughters life? You bet your ass.” You scowl.
“Fine. You’re coming across loud and clear, you don’t need or want my help.” He says, pinching the bridge of his nose, “But at least—”
He stops mid sentence when the shrill ring of your phone pierces through the otherwise comfortably quiet restaurant and you’re shuffling through your purse for your phone. You look up at him before sighing, “It’s work. I have to take this.”
“Hello? Yes, hi Mr. Kim.” You’re already rising to your feet when one chubby hand comes up to clutch your shirt.
“Momma,” Mina calls and it garners both your attention, “It was an accident.”
“Oh no.” You sigh, a frown marring your face as you go to your knees to collect the remainder of spaghetti off the floor, the rest found their way all down the front of her little tank top and you groan, “I’m sorry not you sir, I just—yes I understand the severity of this contract I…. yes sir I'm—”
“Go.” Jimin mouths, before shooing you away with the flick of his wrist. You stare up at him wide eyed, phone still pressed to your ear and an indecisive look marring your face.
Jimin sighs but rises to his feet, lifting you with him and all but pushing you in the direction of the exit before he’s turning to Mina. You send a curt nod of gratitude at him before bustling out and attempting to placate your boss on the phone.
Jimin has never carried a child before. He has especially never carried one covered nearly head to toe in an Italian red sauce delicacy. He had however carried a sack of potatoes and gauging the insufferable little brats weight, she was about the same size. So he applies all the knowledge he’s accumulated in twenty some years of carrying groceries into the house for his mother and keeps the little girl at a giggling arm’s length from his body while he fast walks into the men’s room.
He’s already had her set down on the porcelain countertop before his gaze catches on something in the mirror. A man maybe in his mid twenties is staring at him from the urinal. Jimin’s brows slash down at the inquisitive look before sending him a nod, “What? You’ve never seen a kid before?”
The man is a flurry of movement, zipping up his jeans before sending an apologetic bow at Jimin and shuffling out of the room.
Jimin sighs at the sweet smile Mina’s sending his way, an adorable dimple winking at him, before he rolls his eyes and swipes at her glasses lens where a stray splatter of meat sauce has found its way. He sends her a stern look, “Yah. I bet that smiles gotten you out of a lot of trouble. It won’t work on me.”
You pinch the bridge of your nose in exasperation as you try and explain to your boss for maybe the millionth time (that night) why the Henderson case you got handed a week ago wasn’t moving as quickly as he’d like it.
For all it was worth your boss wasn’t a bad guy, and the company you worked for didn’t cheat you out of money the way Jimin had made it sound. Now, did you deserve a raise after all the time and hours you had put in? Did you need it? Hell yes. But things weren’t always black and white, in fact your entire life seemed to be sat in one huge area of gray.
The company you worked for was family owned and every person in it was sweet, soft hearted, and genuine and all things considered those were good traits to have—except when you were working in the realty field. It was cut throat and competitive. More than once you had seen your boss caught up with loan sharks, renting out time shares at a discounted price to homeless shelters. And then there was the fact that he was just a tad dimwitted, but your heart had gone soft for the old man that had taken both you and Mina under his wing. So you owed him that. You couldn’t give him much but loyalty anyway.
When you returned to the restaurant with a headache you hadn’t had five minutes ago, you look for Jimin to apologize but your footsteps stutter and your heart drops to your belly when you see the two seats still vacant. You turn to the hostess and nearly fall into hysteria when she tells you they left.
Your phone chimes.
Unknown [7:23:45]: meet us at Fro-zone
“What did I say?” Jimin scowls, “One scoop.”
“Your moms gonna kick my ass if I—”
“Jimin.” You call out, hair wind blown from the jog over here and when you meet his gaze he tips his head up at you in acknowledgement.
He was hunched over a whining Mina who had shed her white tank top in place of a pink shirt with a sparkling heart in the middle. He was looking at her sternly and if you weren’t careful you would mistake Mina for one of his business associates with the way he was carefully explaining to her why she couldn’t have more than a handful of sugar before bed—it involved you and him in an oiled up cage match which he would inevitably lose.
You took that as your cue to step in.
“Momma!” She cried gleefully, “Where’d you go?”
“Where did you go?” You retort, poking a finger at her protruding belly and making her jump back with a giggle, “I like your shirt.”
“Jiminnie picked it out!” she grins proudly and Jimin sends a dry look your direction.
“It was either this or the neon pink sweater with seven bows on it and a giant pop up unicorn head—I don’t care how old your kid is, not even she could pull off something so ridiculous.”
“She likes pink.” You shrug but Jimin spots the mirth in your eyes.
“Jiminnie knows a lot of bad words.” Mina tattles and Jimin glares at the little demon. “He owes like ten dollars to the swear jar.”
“The fee’s twenty five scents a swear word just how much did you cuss with my kid?” You cock a brow.
“Is that the only way you’re accepting money?” He retorts with a snarky expression, “Let me stick around after you put Mina to bed and I’ll give you enough material for her college fund.”
You grin but don’t say anything as he leads you to his car.
It isn’t all that much later when he pulls up to your car in the parking garage. A glance back in his rearview tells you that Mina is out cold and you sigh with the thought that she is way too big to be getting carried anymore. You turn in your seat to wake her up but Jimin shakes his head at you before opening his car door and heading to the back.
It’s probably the fact that a man hasn’t carried Mina since she was born that attributes more to the pain in your chest than it is that it’s Jimin. Jimin of all people putting a sturdy hand on the back of your daughters head and tucking her tiny glasses in his hand so she doesn’t hurt her face. He waits for you to unlock the door to your car before setting her down in her car seat and leaving you to buckle her in.
He’s still holding her specs when you turn back to him, fiddling with a small scratch on one of the lenses before handing them back to you.
You can’t quite put a finger on the atmosphere that resonates in the otherwise abandoned parking garage—nonetheless words find their way to your lips that you had no intent of sharing with him.
“I’ll take you up on your offer.” You utter.
“The job?” He brightens at your words and you wince.
“No,” you say quietly. “I… maybe if me and Mina have time we’ll stop by your parents sometime. I’m sure your Mom would love to meet her.”
His expression doesn’t dull at your words, if anything it only gets that much brighter at he mention of his parents and for the briefest of moments your caught up in your old feelings, because this was too much like the old Jimin. The one who wore his heart on his sleeve, and was never sly or cool or charming in a way that wasn’t dorky.
“You really mean that?”
“It couldn’t hurt to rekindle that relationship.” You shrug.