Prologue (Two Years Ago)

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Prim.

Proper.

Men and women clad in black suits and designer cocktail dresses moved around the room, constant confident smiles on their faces, hands positioned properly, accents perfect as they communicated and negotiated with each other. Ringed and jeweled hands held expensive glasses filled with fine wine or soft drinks and socked feet shuffled around, some wearing heels and clattering against the ground. Smells of cologne and perfumes, new dresses and stuffy coats, along with the tangy smell of alcohol and steak wafted throughout the room. There was a sort of eased tension in the air hidden under the polite smiles, caused by the hidden contempt most of them had for each other.

After all, this was a family business party.

And while, there were some friends in there, most were rivals.

A tall guy with large ears bowed politely to a middle-aged lady, smiling as he let go of his mother's arm while excusing himself. The lady smiled – but it was too big and wide to be natural. It wasn't the lady's fault though. As a lady from a very high and prosperous family, wife of one of the biggest businessmen ever, and a featured and popular artist herself, she couldn't possibly be expected to smile genuinely at the thought of someone else – a rookie artist, barely legal - trying to get his art up there in an art gallery of extremely high prestige. She also couldn't comprehend why the mother of said rookie was so casual about this, laughing in front of her with dark, deep lipstick smudged on her lips – as if she thought it was nothing serious. Maybe, it wasn't. But the child had seemed pretty serious.

But then again, she had never really understood "casual" families like theirs. Her own son, a renowned archer, was constantly working towards his goal to stand in the Olympic fields. His dreams...weren't casual or impromptu. And they weren't treated as such either. She smirked. Nobody in this room could compete with her in terms of the success of their children.

The tall boy walked towards the bathroom, the smile slipping off his face quickly, as he thought about how much contempt and disregard that lady had been harboring for him. He didn't really understand people like her – people so conceited, close-minded and success-driven. His family was a far better contrast.

But for some reason, the look in her eyes when he told her that he was an artist too kept replaying in his mind. She had looked surprised, as if she couldn't possibly believe that he wanted to get his art in the Hyundai Gallery, as if he wasn't worthy enough to dream of that. She had made him feel small and insecure, and she had made his family seem foolish.

He didn't like her or her oh-so-perfect, talented and rich family.

People moved past him in a blur, smiling at him, and gaining a stretched smile back.

Until he came. The tall guy was broken from his daze because he wasn't smiling. He was smirking; victorious. His back was straight, and even though he was shorter, he seemed bigger, as if he held the moon in his hands. The tall guy felt immediate hate rise from the pit of his stomach. One day, he will make sure that these people will be below him...

He brushed past him, shoulders rubbing intentionally, not failing to step up on his toes and whisper in his ear –

"Was my mother too realistic again, Park?"

The guy in question grunted, "No, Byun, she just has no hope. Kind of like you."

A smile. A huff. A glint. A glare.

And they both walked away, far from each other, in their respective safe vicinities until they could stop and allow the sadness to seep into their hearts; the utter pain and pressure.

The world is realistic...

The world has no hope...

But both kept smiling throughout the rest of the night.

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