Jinyoung handed the iPad to the CEO, revealing the record of Jackson that his best friend had been keeping since this semester of college started. The father sighed and rubbed his eyes for a moment.
"This year has been harder on Jackson than anything that's ever come before," Jinyoung explained, "He's taken every test that he couldn't score higher than a 50% on as something that quite literally broke him. I...I don't want to continue to watch the most amazing person suffer."
He crossed his fingers behind his back that Jackson's father still bought that he was still just friends with Jackson. That's what he was, at any rate. He was too scared to bring up his feelings to Jackson, especially when the only time that Jackson would ever let him talk openly was when he failed a test.
"What should we do?" the father asked, looking down at everything that told him his son was not going to be a good successor.
"I think you should try to spend some time with Jackson, to make him see that you are here for him as a father," Jinyoung replied, clasping his hands behind his back, "It would make him more at ease, sir."
"But I don't want him at ease, Jinyoung," the father replied, tossing the iPad onto his desk, "I need him to be on his toes, he needs to see that there are two ways of living in the Wang family. You excell or you fall. My brother and my nephew both fell, I don't need another failure."
Jinyoung swallowed back his anger, hating it when anyone called Jackson a failure...especially when Jackson called himself a failure, and continued with a professional front, "With all due respect sir, Jackson is trying his hardest."
"Jinyoung, I don't think you see the problem that we are facing here with the right head," the father replied, turning to face the younger, "Jackson has never done well in school, he was designed to be a failure since his mother gave birth to him. The only thing that he has done remotely well is maintain a friendship with you."
The younger's fists clenched. He was slowly starting to let his anger relapse.
"Sir, maybe if you acted like a father rather than a CEO, Jackson would see himself as less of a failure."
"Jinyoung! Jackson is a failure!"
"Stop talking about him like that," Jinyoung seethed, narrowing his eyes at the older man, "He is nothing like a failure."
"Is there something that you want to tell me, Jinyoung?"
The door exploded open and Jackson stood there with Mark and Jaebum running into the doorway, panting. They'd been running ever since Youngjae sent the group chat a text that Jackson was going to see his father.
He'd seen him pass Hoshi's cafe on his way to the business building with an angry look on his face. The only reason Youngjae wasn't there with them now was that he'd been in the middle of lunch and he still had to pay.
Youngjae was certainly taking his time.
Jackson pointed at Jinyoung, his eyes blazing.
"I knew that I would find you here!" he barked, "You've been working for my father since I was a kid! You knew that I would fail all of my tests, you never tried to help! You only offered some stupid temporary solution that resulted in me gaining weight!"
"Zip it, Mark!" Jackson ordered, a fire taking over his body as he sent a glare at the older. Mark's mouth dropped open slightly and he looked at Jaebum with shock before turning to see Jinyoung looking with fear at Jackson.
Jackson was losing his mind.
"You have been manipulating me since I was a child, haven't you?" he asked, looking at Jinyoung darkly, "You've always wanted the position I did with my father, didn't you?! Answer me!"
"Jackson! Mind your tongue!" the father ordered, Jackson turning to him with shock and hidden fear behind his eyes.
"I don't want to hear it!" the CEO stood up and continued bitterly, "I told you to stay out of the company today! Instead, you go against my wishes and come here to accuse your best friend of something he'd never do! Leave, now, Jackson."
Jackson could feel the fire in him slowly dying and tears pricked the back of his eyes. He sniffed deeply and looked at the bookshelf for a moment. He was using all the self-control that he had not to cry in front of his father, he didn't want his friends or his father to see just how broken he felt.
"You always defend him," Jackson said, sounding slightly broken, "Every time he gets accused of doing something that wasn't even wrong, you come running. But god forbid your son can't get a good grade and you want to disown him--"
"I never said that--"
"You've considered it, haven't you?" Jackson asked, the tears showing in his eyes and making them glossy. He looked at Jinyoung and with the last bit of fire in him, "Keep Jinyoung then. He can be your son."
"You told me to leave, right?" Jackson interrupted, sounding extremely broken.
Youngjae finally arrived, putting his hands on his knees to catch his breath and looking at the scene in front of him. He needed to know what he'd missed, it was like he'd interrupted the middle of a K-drama.
Jackson looked at him with a confused look, wondering how he could possibly be running when the elevator was literally just down the hall.
"With all due respect, Mr. Wang," Youngjae panted, "Your elevators are shit. They stopped at the fifth floor, I had to run ten stories up."
Secretly, Youngjae had also been finishing his sandwich when he was running up the stairs and that was not the smartest thing he'd ever done.
Bambam and Yugyeom arrived shortly after Youngjae, not quite panting but still breathing heavily. They wanted to catch up as well but the two youngers were torn between checking to see if Youngjae was going to throw up or if Jackson was going to faint in the middle of his father's office.
Jackson reached up and wiped his eyes before throwing his hood over his head and leaving the office. He was done with today, he was finished with what he wanted to do and Mark couldn't help but feel an odd mixture of pity and pride for him.
The father looked with wide eyes as his friends stepped to the side to let Jackson through, ordering, "What are you doing? Stop him!"
Mark looked at the man in shock and then shook his head in disgust, rolling his eyes and calling, "Jackson, you want to crash at my house for a while? I'm sure that Namjoon wouldn't mind."
"He doesn't like me," Jackson called back, getting in the elevator with his four friends running to catch him.
Jaebum stayed behind, looking at Jinyoung and the CEO for a moment. He crossed his arms over his chest and let out a breath.
"I'm going to hate myself for this," he said, "I really am."
The father crossed his arms, smirking already at what Jaebum was going to say.
"But I can't let Jackson walk out on Jinyoung."
The father's eyes went wide and he looked at Jaebum with shock. Didn't he mean to say that Jackson can't walk out on the family?
Surely Jackson could not survive without the Wang family fortune!
Jaebum noticed his shocked appearance and replied to it with bitterness, "Oh, he can walk out on you all he wants, I don't care because I don't like you. I care about how he feels."
Jinyoung was quick to take advantage and asked, "What does he feel?"
"I'll tell you after we leave. I think Jackson's ready to leave the Wang legacy behind."