It's always the nice ones who get targeted. People often take advantage of their kindness, but that's the reality of things. Even if someone bullies them, what would it take for someone to stand up for them?
Yejin Choi has been harassed and assaulted her entire life. Who would stand up for her? She was a nobody. Yejin lived her life being scrutinised by everyone in her life, may it be her classmates, her teachers, or even her landlord. A troubled child, they'd call her, for being the reason why her parents decided she was no longer worth it. Growing up in the urban area has never been easy for her, it wasn't just the toxic environment, it was everything associated with her parents. She hated them. They never gave her any reason to understand their situation; which led to their gambling and drinking habits, forgetting they even had a daughter.
This wasn't your usual story where the poor girl moved to the countryside after her parents were scammed by the people they trusted. No, Yejin was born poor. She initially had nothing to her name and neither did her parents. She didn't know what happened because they never told her, but what would a 6 year old girl know about hardships? She's a kid. They were always away for 'work', her father would come back with a few soju bottles and lottery cards, while she was struggling to even last the day with an actual meal. Crackers, that's as far as she could get everyday. Her mother was the same, she indulged in whatever her husband was doing while telling Yejin, "You need to understand our situation darling, things will get better soon…"
When it rains, instead of worrying about getting cold, she had to worry about whether the roof would be able to take in the weight, or if the strong wind wouldn't knock the doors down. The floor was not heated, it was damn cold. The lights were almost nonexistent aside from that one lone light bulb hanging over the living room that is also her bedroom. What's the use of having it anyway if her parents didn't pay the electricity bills? She was sure that it was just there for decoration purposes.
One day, things began to change. She wasn't sure if it was for the better but her mother suddenly returned after being away for 2 weeks, dressed in clothes she was sure she couldn't have afforded on her own and said she was taking her away from her father. There was a struggle between the two but eventually, her mother won the fight and Yejin could barely say her goodbyes to her father. Her mother had a better life moving into the city, a two-bedroom apartment that would suffice them just fine. She was 10, she didn't know what it meant when her mother brought her 'friends' home, or when she would often just leave money on the counter and leave for weeks.
At the mere age of 14, she started working part-time after school because she could no longer tolerate using the money her mother received from her line of work. It disgusts her. Yejin knew exactly what type of work her mother has been doing, but turned a blind eye and deaf ear to it because no matter how many times she would tell her to quit that job, her mother would slap her and say she would never understand. It went on until she turned 17. School was nothing to her, though she retained excellent grades, she had a bad reputation for being the daughter of a prostitute. She didn't have friends, so she kept to herself. She has been collecting enough money to get out and rent someplace else, just in time before her mother's marriage to a wealthy businessman who had a long history of abusing his previous two wives. She hated that guy too.
Unfortunately, on the eve of her mother's wedding, while she was busy packing her things to move out, she was caught by him. She should've known he didn't want her mother only, not when her mother had a 17-year-old daughter who could satisfy him better. He was bigger and taller, for a small girl like her, it was futile for her to fight him and expect to win. Nonetheless, Yejin still fought him. She tried. He had forced himself on her and instead of consoling her or breaking off the marriage with the scumbag, her mother threatened her to keep the father's identity a secret or she would kick her out. The last thing she wanted was to be a pregnant teen, a result of being defiled by the masked devil that she had to endure calling father.
Her hope of escaping the bird cage was shut down and she was back inside it. Yejin hated her parents, and she hated the child she was carrying to. There have been plenty of attempts where she tried to abort the child but she couldn't bring herself to kill the innocent life inside her. But she also didn't want her baby to live this torturous life either so she made the decision to give him away when she gives birth to him, hoping he would be able to find a better home than this hell hole. Yejin kept his birth a secret and paid the nurse in charge of her delivery to keep her mouth shut. The nurse left the newborn baby in front of an orphanage, wrapped in a cloth Yejin herself had made with his name embroidered on the side; Jihoon. As far as she's concerned, to her step-father and mother, her baby didn't survive the childbirth.
The orphanage belongs to a single father, Haejun Park. He has been operating the place since 4 years ago after he lost his wife and second child. It was located in Gyeonggi, and was quite a popular orphanage in the district since they had government support from their activities. Haejun Park was a male in his late 40s, who came back from his work so he could visit his only son, Jaewook, who supervises the children there. It was raining heavily and he heard the sound of a baby crying in front of the entrance gate. Imagine his surprise when he got out of the car only to be greeted by a crying baby soaked in the rain.
Haejun quickly picked the baby up and brought it inside. Poor Jihoon has been left alone outside for hours in the rain, and because of that, he developed hypothermia. Jaewook assisted his father in trying to warm the poor baby, discarding the cloth he was wrapped in previously and turning up the room temperature. Haejun called 119, but by the time they arrived, Jihoon had already stopped crying and his pulse was weakening. The CCTVs at the area were broken so they didn't know who left the poor baby at the orphanage's doorstep, there was nothing they could do to assist the search of Jihoon's mother or the person who abandoned him. He was hospitalised for a few weeks until his body temperature and health condition stabilised. Haejun felt sorry for the baby and realized it was unfair for him to leave it to the authorities to search for his parents when it was clear they abandoned him. In front of an orphanage no less.
So he took him in. There was no way the hospital would allow him to take the baby home when he has no relation with the poor infant. Thankfully, the hospital director was a family friend of his and after settling a few documents, he was allowed to bring him back to the orphanage after they could no longer hold him there. Growing up, he was a weak child. He was always prioritised because of his health condition by Jaewook, who behaved as his older brother. He could've just cared for him the way he does for the other children at the orphanage but Jihoon was a sickly baby, he required a lot of attention.
But despite his health, Jihoon grew up to be an outstanding child. He had good grades and was especially active in the musical department. He had a perfect pitch and started learning piano at 9. Thankfully, as the years went by, his health got better. He continuously exceeded Haejun's expectations. For a while, everything was fine. He had a loving man whom he called father, and an understanding older brother who never pressured him. Staying at the orphanage was the best choice he could've made. But orphanages were meant for orphans, and more often than not, children there still wished to be adopted into loving families. Should someone request to adopt a child there, the supervisor couldn't exactly reject them, especially after they have provided concrete evidence that they were able to care for them exceptionally.
Jihoon was 11 when he was first adopted into the Lim family. When it was time for them to take him home with them, Jihoon was crying for Jaewook and Haejun. He didn't want to leave them, they were all he had. Jaewook promised that they will be visiting him later, which turned out to be a lie because his parents, Anna and Ryeowon Lim, were based in San Francisco and were only in Korea because they were visiting their parents. There was no way Jaewook would be able to visit him if they were halfway across the world from each other. Jihoon passed out from exhaustion after crying so much and only woke up when he was already in the plane, scheduled to take off to his new home.
The plane ride was long, Jihoon was very exhausted by the time they arrived at his new home. They were wealthy, that's for sure. He wasn't the only child either, but he was the only adopted one. Jihoon had 3 sisters, 2 who are older than him, the twins; Maia and Claudia, and one who's younger than him by 2 years; Christina. They were all biologically related to Anna, who had them in her first marriage. After marrying Ryeowon, she decided that adopting a boy would be easier than having another child since she could no longer have one after her birth complications with Christina. Everything was foreign to him, he wasn't fluent in English yet, and he could barely take in everything. "This is your home now, baby, we're your family. We'll protect each other."
If only he knew how poisonous those words would turn out to be later. Frankly, Jihoon had a good relationship with his sisters, especially the twins. They would help him with his homeworks and in return, he would make them their favorite snacks. Christina, on the other hand, would be quite clingy to him but he learned that it was only natural. Even though nobody taught him to cook, he picked up the small skills from the cooking programmes he watched, and even made his own recipe after experimenting on a few selected dishes.
He was 16 when it happened. He just came back from school after his lacrosse practice and was dead tired so the first thing he wanted to do was lie down on his bed and sleep it off. Perhaps that would help. But the moment he closed the door to his room, he noticed that a girl was lying on his bed. He had asked what she was doing in his room because he did not recognize who she was, but before she could say a word, Christina came inside and said her friend was lost. Jihoon dismissed it because she was Christina's friend and it was her first time there, to him there was nothing unseemly regarding it.
But it kept happening. He didn't know why and what warranted it, but he kept seeing that girl everywhere he goes, from school and when he hangs out with his friends. Jihoon came to find out her name was Delilah and that she was in the same class as Christina's. At first, it didn't seem weird seeing her at their home almost every week because Christina is the type to bring her friends home. But then she started advancing on him, which made him confused. She would constantly flirt whenever Christina's not around and it wasn't only one time where he found her in his room. He confided in Maia regarding it and she told him to not worry about it, "Everyone knows Delilah has a big crush on you."
Her attempts to get closer to him grew to annoy Jihoon who normally isn't mean to anyone. She was incessant and it honestly scared him to what kind of stage she's willing to go just to get his attention. On his 17th birthday, she surprised him in his room once again but he thought enough was enough and chased her out harshly. What he didn't know was that she was extremely drunk and could barely hold her balance so when he pushed her outside and closed the door to her face, she had tripped and fell down the stairs, hitting her head against the cold marble floor. Ryeowon blamed Jihoon for his recklessness and when Delilah woke up, she accused him for pushing her down the stairs because she wouldn't return his feelings when in reality, it was the opposite. Nobody would believe him except Maia.
Christina pressured him to apologise to Delilah and their relationship got worse. She could barely look him in the eye ever since that day and Claudia distanced herself from him. Their parents were too busy working and Ryeowon was as strict as ever. Maia was away in her boarding school so Jihoon was left alone. His friends left him and it feels as if he had committed a grave mistake for ever dismissing his worries about Delilah. The once happy and bright child who was always loud in his class became someone quiet. He even stopped attending his lacrosse practice because of the rumors spread about him and Delilah. Some were even insinuating that he took advantage of her while she was drunk and discarded her when she no longer wanted him. When did things go wrong for him?
Ryeowon told him to live quietly because that's the best thing he could do and Jihoon asked his permission to attend college in NYC if he graduated with flying colors from his performing arts high school. He majored in dance and managed to retain good grades throughout his schooling period despite the false allegations against him for the last 2 years of his senior year. Competing in the annual dancing competition would secure him a scholarship to Juilliard. It was the perfect opportunity to escape his life here and embark on a new journey elsewhere. He practiced every night, his muscles were sore and he barely had enough sleep due to studying but it was worth it. The day of the competition arrived and he won the grand prize, which earned him a ticket to his dream school.
Ryeowon begrudgingly allowed him to leave because of the scholarship despite not liking his decision to leave but Anna was supportive, as was Maia. As he departed to Juilliard, he left his stressful past behind. It was the first time he had left home but he has never felt more freer. He didn't have his past weighing down on him no more, as guilty as he felt, he decided that rejecting calls from Christina and Ryeowon was for the best. The two of them would only continue to pester him and he had the chance to run away from them while creating a new chapter of his life there.
While he was in his second year in Juilliard, he stumbled across a group of sponsors. More than once, honestly. They had annual competitions where sponsors from across the world came to scout new talent. There was one persistent female who kept asking for his contact but what piqued his interest was the charming blond who seemingly had a graceful air of elegance to him, even from the way he walks, Jihoon could understand that was not just a sponsor who came for the sake of profiting and exploiting young talents. Yeonseok Lee, he came to know of his name. He was the CEO of Amare Dance Company. He made his decision after a while and realized signing with him would be the best decision he could make. So he did. He was approaching his junior year at Juilliard but has already won the previous annual dance competition; he had plenty to add to his portfolio, dating back to his days at his performing arts high school in California.
What Happened After
He made a friend in the young CEO, and by the time he graduated, his future was bright. A Juilliard graduate signed under a big company, he had everything he ever wanted. Dancing was something he had known since a child. He would often bring lunch boxes for the other dancers in his session too, boosting his cooking skills after picking them up once again. He didn't know that he would lose his life so easily over a mugging incident. Jihoon was the last one to use the dance studio and was going to get some coffee at his favorite cafe a few blocks away from the company, but as he went past the alley, he was ambushed by a few thugs. He was nowhere near being weak, but what could he do against 5 people, each equipped with either a bat or knife?
The lights malfunctioning that night was like his own, as if it knew he wasn't going to survive the night after suffering multiple stabs to the chest. Perhaps he shouldn't have fought back, they could've left him be after a few beating after thinking he was harmless but he couldn't allow them to just bully him. After what seemed to be hours long, they left his battered body slumped against the brick wall, his face pressed against the cold ground, and all he could remember before blacking out was the sight of two silhouettes towering above him and one of them saying shit.
When he woke up, he was greeted by a blinding light. He has a splitting headache and his body honestly felt like it was mangled. But when he rushed to see if he had sustained any injuries from that night, he found none. His body had no wounds, no scars, not even the slightest blemish. He limped over to the mirror and noticed he looked fine. Jihoon's first thought was to freak out because he could vividly remember that night where he was sure he wouldn't survive the stabs. The first person he met after exiting the room was Daehyun, he noticed him as the guy who always visited the dance company, Yeon's friend. He first started to explain what happened and when Jihoon didn't believe what he said, he called Yeon over to prove it to him. He had no knowledge whatsoever regarding the supernatural so it took him a while to digest what happened to him and when he finally did, he freaked out again.
Eventually, Dae had to knock him out and Yeon explained to him how Dae's going to train him before he could return to the world again. The thought of being dead to the world upsets him, especially upon finding out how devastated his friends were. But none of his so called family cared much, which confirmed his suspicions that they never truly saw him as one of their own. Both Dae and Yeon made a promise to let him return to the world of the living after a year, once he could prove his self restraint. It was hard to control his blood thirst at first, everything was new and he was both excited and scared by this new identity of his. But he wanted to return and take this opportunity as his second chance at life, now with no more attachments stringing him, he could live the life he wanted without any restraints.
A year and half has passed, and Dae confirmed it with Yeon that Jihoon was good to go. He thanked the valkyr for his guidance and help, but requested that he be given the chance to pick what he wanted to study as his way to officially begin this life. Dancing was everything to him, yes, but he also remembered how he wanted to cook. His father berated him for wanting to do culinary and forced him into performing arts. While he grew to love dancing, he still wished to give cooking a chance. Just like Yeon gave him another chance at life. He decided to move to Evermore, the university there had a promising culinary programme and he was told it was a city populated by plenty of supernaturals. If he was going to get used to this, he had to adapt. Dae promised to look out for him, or at least that's what he said to Yeon anyway.