Rating: PG13 (rn, for a little swearing)
Word Count: ~2,200
Summary:Sungmin is a greeting card writer. He's good only at sympathy cards and rude only to Dr. Cho.
Warning: I have no idea how it happened and I do not hate him but Siwon is fat in this fic.
”What in the world do you think you’re doing?”
“Calm down, Sungmin. You’re scaring my endothelial cells.”
“We are locked in the lab and you’re counting cells? Why don’t you try all the six digit combinations you can think of!?” Sungmin pressed his forehead to the glass door of the cell culture laboratory and looked longingly at the shoe cabinet outside. On top of the shoe cabinet were two handphones, lying side by side. Beside them was a sign saying, “NO HANDPHONES ALLOWED. RADIATION KILLS YOUR/MY/RATS’ CELLS.”
Kyuhyun sighed and lifted his head up from the microscope. “The possibility of us getting locked here overnight is approximately 99%. First of all, it’s already twelve midnight, no one is likely to come by. Secondly, there are a million six digit combinations possible for the numbers zero to nine. Thirdly, if you need the loo, feel free to use the lab sink. We have CCTV installed in here though.”
Sungmin twirled around so fast, he nearly tripped himself. “What about that 1%?”
Kyuhyun smiled as he poked a dead endothelial cell with the end of a pipette.
“I believe in fate.”
+ + + + +
Chapter 1: Get Well Soon (Fat Hope)
“Sungmin.” Siwon started. Cautiously. “Did you send in Eunhyuk’s work by mistake?”
“You wanted me to be witty, Boss.”
“I know. But. Seriously? Balls? Balls?” Siwon scratched his forehead and Sungmin had to pull his gaze away from his boss’s head. Everyone in the office knew the boss was wearing a wig. Everyone was feigning ignorance. Siwon’s face puckered up in serious thought, however, all he could come up with after a full minute was, “But balls are not your thing….I mean, I’m sure you have them,” Sungmin flushed. “But….balls are not your thing…” He leaned back in his office chair, lowered his chin (which was difficult due to the constraint in space brought about by Siwon’s triple chins) and tried to appear very concerned.
Sungmin was forcefully reminded of a beaver he once watched on Discovery channel. Said beaver was extremely anxious about his pitifully small stash of twigs for the coming winter. That, and the fact that his companion had failed to conceive yet again after their second year together.
“I would like to request a transfer back to the Condolences department, Boss.” Sungmin’s brows furrowed a little. He pushed his metal framed spectacles back up the bridge of his small nose. Siwon’s office was small and brown. Brown wallpaper, brown carpet, brown office chair, even the blinds were brown. On the window ledge, right behind the Boss’s table, stood a row of small bottles. Sungmin took a deep breath and caught the distinct scent of camellia in the musty air. He wrinkled his nose and those wretched glasses slipped off again. “Get well cards are not my area of expertise.”
Seated at his table, Siwon looked up from the stack of notes that was Sungmin’s latest submission and turned his attention to the row of greeting cards that were framed and hung up on the walls of his office. These were the best selling cards this company had ever printed and Sungmin’s best works were among them. Most notably, Sungmin had been the inventor of sympathy cards for pets. That quarter, the company beat Ballmark in profits for the first time ever.
That was the card that made Sungmin the most sought after greeting card writer a year ago. Now it hung off Siwon’s office wall under a metal plate that said, “Best Selling, Most Inspirational, 2009”. But that was before Siwon unknowingly transferred Sungmin from the Condolences department to the Get Well department on his first day of work as the new boss. Siwon gave his head a firm pat out of habit (to ensure that the wig was still on) and brought his focus back to Sungmin who was currently standing in front of him, drawing circles on the carpeted floor with his left foot. He didn’t want to risk upsetting his prized writer but there weren’t any more vacancies left in Condolences. The new recruit just arrived yesterday to fill Sungmin’s void.
“I know that the switch has upset you greatly,” Sungmin pouted. “and I know that you really want to return to Condolences,” The pout gave way to a look of hope that seemed to radiate from the depths of Sungmin’s eyes. “but I have other arrangements for you. We should never put a harness on our own potential, Sungmin, especially since you’re such a talented writer. I have great plans for you.” The hope faded from Sungmin’s eyes as suspicion took its place. “I have decided to place you in the Romance department.”
Overwhelmed with glee, Siwon failed to hear Sungmin’s world crash around him.
+ + + + +
Chapter 2: Let’s Talk About Sungmin
A: “Do you know Lee Sungmin?”
B: “What? That dude in Condolences?”
C: “Well, I heard he’s been transferred to Get Well.”
A: “The latest news is that he’s been posted to Romance!”
B: “Can we talk about cows and methane emissions instead? Honestly, cow farts are more interesting than him.”
A: “….what? Don’t you find him cute?”
C: “How long have you been in the company?”
A: “About a month.”
B: “Then you don’t know enough about him to judge. He’s cute alright, but that’s all there is to him. He’s boring, he puts grannies to sleep, and he pulls the legs off spiders for fun!”
A: “At least he can write a touching obituary?”
The above lunchtime conversation between Sungmin’s co-workers was reported word-for-word for the reader’s reference. While it generally represented the impression that the majority had of Sungmin, it wasn’t an accurate representation of him. For one, Sungmin certainly didn't pull the legs off spiders for fun. Instead, he wrote.
Sungmin regarded writing as his both his work and hobby. He worked as a greeting card writer and off work, he usually wrote emails to the local newspaper. Oh, he wrote only to a specific columnist who published under a pen name. As the columnist had a great desire to remain anonymous, he frequently changed his pen name. Yes, Sungmin had surmised that this columnist was likely to be male judging from his choice of pen names. The current one he was using was “Real-Men-Use-Clutches”. His emails were never published but Sungmin didn’t really mind as long as they were answered. It wasn't as if he had never seen his words in print.
Sungmin wrote to seek advice on everything. From “I’m trying to take up gardening, what plant do you think I should start with?” to “What is your opinion on twenty three year olds who have never dated? Of course I’m asking on behalf on my friend.” and “How do I seek a transfer from one department to another?”
That’s right. “Balls” were most definitely not Sungmin’s thing.
He couldn't really recall when he started writing to the fashion columnist and he had no idea why he ever thought it was appropriate, but a year later, he was absolutely convinced that “Real-Men-Use-Clutches” knew everything. Every-fucking-thing. He even knew how to soften tough meat (”…rub a piece of green papaya on the meat. Use the rest of the papaya to make Thai green papaya salad.”)
Those who didn’t know Sungmin said he was boring. Those who knew him said he was just about the most indecisive creature they had the misfortune to ever know. Now, Sungmin was hardly boring. Like all people, he wanted to be liked too. But at the same time, he felt that he had got to live by his own rules. He just didn’t know that it would make him socially awkward. The fact that he didn’t have a clue about his social awkwardness made it even more awkward for those around him. Gradually, people stopped talking to him and he didn’t know how it happened (well, he didn’t know it happened), but Sungmin started to have a reputation for being a bore.
The only colleague he got along well with was Eunhyuk. They didn’t get along so well at first for Eunhyuk had heard of Sungmin’s reputation and had made sure to avoid the outcast when he just joined the company. As fate would have it, he was made to sit with Sungmin during the annual Dinner & Dance and that was when they had their first conversation. Sungmin was the one who initiated it.
“Did you know that there’s a zip behind Rilakkuma?”
Eunhyuk swiveled around in his seat and tilted his right ear towards Sungmin. “What?” Surely he must have heard wrongly.
“I said. Did. You. Know. That. There’s. A. Zip. Behind. Rilakkuma.” Sungmin inched closer to Eunhyuk and spoke slowly and clearly into his right ear.
Eunhyuk pulled back in a flash and stared at Sungmin. There was nothing but sincerity in the latter’s eyes. Then Sungmin pulled out a Rilakkuma keychain from his pocket and flipped the little bear over. “Look, there’s a zip! I bet you never know!” Sungmin beamed.
Honestly, Eunhyuk had never heard of Rilakkuma, much less care about the zip on its/his/her back but he only nodded and smiled broadly and hoped the message that’s currently flashing in his mind – namely, ‘Oh my god. He’s gay?’ – is not showing on his face.
Sungmin tilted his head and regarded Eunhyuk with an intense look on his face. Then he beckoned a waitress over and asked for a glass of orange juice.
“Wh-What.” Eunhyuk stuttered bewilderedly.
Placing the glass of juice in front of Eunhyuk, Sungmin said in a very serious voice, “I think you have scurvy.”
. . . . .
Rule #1 → Always be true to himself
One might take this to mean to never lie to oneself. Most unfortunately, Sungmin took it a step further and vowed never to lie to anyone. As a general rule, for the sake of one’s own self esteem, one usually did not ask Sungmin his opinion on how one looked in a new dress. Sadly, no one mentioned this to Siwon.
“Sungmin, do you think I’m fat?” He asked him one night, after the welcome dinner held in honor of Siwon on his first day in the company. Siwon had been very easy on himself lately, all those late night suppers and booze. He couldn’t help but feel that his pants were feeling just a little tight today.
Sungmin scrutinized Siwon from head to top in the dim of the moonlight. His new boss had asked him for his opinion and he wasn’t about to fail him. Squashed facial features as a result of excess facial fats, checked. Triple chins, checked. Invisible neck, checked. Flabby arms which were now fluttering in the midsummer night breeze, checked. Overflowing love handles, checked. Thunder thighs that somehow managed to make his pants looked like tights, checked.
Looking straight into his boss’s eyes, Sungmin said with utter conviction.
The next day, Sungmin found himself unceremoniously transferred from Condolences to Get Well.
Rule #2 → Always apologise
Sungmin’s second rule was created out of need to resolve whatever crisis that was formed as a direct result of rule #1.
It didn't always work though. Please refer to above run-in with boss.
Rule #3 → Never give an opinion unless asked
Similarly, the third rule was formed out of sheer necessity. As mentioned, Sungmin was unaware of his inability to interact on relatively friendly terms with the masses, but he did know an angry face when he saw one. So he tried to learn to keep his mouth shut. Which was good for his health (no punches coming his way) and bad for his mental well being (he loved dispensing opinions). It was probably for the best, there are few things that are capable of more destruction than the potent combination of honesty and the need to be vocal.
Rule #4 → Always treat everyone with respect
This had been engraved in Sungmin’s mind by his mum. Lee Sangmi, supermum, housewife, volunteer for the community welfare center, regular blood donor, guest preacher for the neighborhood church, adopter of stray cats, upholder of justice! She had spent much of her life advocating good and would much prefer stepping into her grave a few decades earlier than see her sons grow up to be scumbags of society. Thanks to his stringent upbringing, Sungmin had been instilled with impeccable manners. He said his ‘thank you’s with bright toothy smiles, was wholly charming to the nasty waiter at the café near his apartment and struck up amicable conversations with perfect strangers about their babies (until they asked him if he thought their babies were cute). Sungmin was a gentleman with flawless manners and that's the way it’s going to stay, thank you very much.
But then, one fine Friday night, Dr. Cho Kyuhyun strolled into his life.
to be continued
p.s.: my laptop broke down 2 days ago. no net = no life. in my spare time, i had this morbid thought: hey, i'm going to write a longass fic that will take me over 2 years to complete, just like all those chinese fics i love. this is the result of said morbid thought. i'm losing steam already. erm. lets hope i finish this one.
p.p.s.: srsly. discovery rly said that. something like, 'he's worried because poppy (not her real name...no rly, i forgot the female's name) will not give birth again this spring.' beavers are so cute.
p.p.p.s.: dont slam my ferret prose. i tried! (／‵Д′)／~ ╧╧