Thankfully, there was the sister who could at least be there as family while father dearest was running around working too much. And, as it came to turn out long before Kangjoon was old enough to really remember, dating again. Like maybe he'd known for a while that something bad was coming and he was only really good at preparing for the worst and being with someone, not trying and having to suffer and deal all alone. As early as Kangjoon can remember, his father was married: married, mostly happy and the well-to-do father of three children.
Things were kind of an amaglam of nonsense for the middle Seo. He took up what habits and hobbies seemed to suit him on a day to day basis; one morning he was a devoted astronaut and spouting off the various made up names of all the rockets and planets he had conquered in his six hundred year career. The next, he owned an ice cream truck that never ran out of chocolate and walnut popsicles. None of these things seemed to be forgotten as time went on (
“I had to retire, no one can do that stuff forever!” he'd always say when prompted ) and all carried a hint of weight in him. With deep eyes, Kangjoon looked as if some days he really had lived all those little adventures into truth: like he was swallowing the world whole and willing to live with its history with a bright, bright smile still left lingering on his face. The trouble was, mostly, Kangjoon didn't really know when to not talk about it to others which lead to the only option that still sticks firmly to this day.
Fighting was easy, after the first black eye. Kangjoon could take a punch well as anyone it turned out when some kids tried to mouth off about—something, he can't be recall it completely (
“You're so stupid you need your stupid sister to protect you huh?!” )— and he came home with bloodied fists and a swollen face. It was just a one time incident, of course, and he got into big trouble for it. Mostly. Daddy was proud, though, because no son of his was going to go down without a fight! Behind step-mother's back, he was enrolled into classes. Judo, boxing, taekwondo—the classes were plentiful until Kangjoon was more than capable of defending himself against anyone who tried to step up to bat. Himself and his family, of course. Because Hyosung was lovely, but Hyosung was the sister; Kangjoon was the eldest male and he had a duty to uphold, that way.
After all, who was going to take care of Jaeho if anything happened to their father, one day?
And that was what happened, slowly. The older Kangjoon got the less he saw of either of his parents. Hyosung was more mother than sister most days and Kangjoon resented it; not because he wanted her to not boss him around as much but because she shouldn't have had to deal with it. He tried to step up to plate and do what he could to help his sister, to keep the house in order, which lead to the starting edges of the way he and Jaeho butt heads. Their parents were just busy—they were working hard to support their children and as far as Kangjoon was concerned that made them sort of like heroes. Heroic people who didn't abandon or forget or move in selfish whims but parents who were sacrificing everything, even their time with family, for their children's needs. It was a bit stupid, he has always known that, but that was besides the point. It was his truth, that which he chose to uphold, and it turned him into a steadfast fool for doing just as could make his parents proud, mostly.
Things were shit, really, and Kangjoon tried his damned best to make sure to pretend they weren't. For every busted lip there was an absurd long story to join it. As time went on things only got worse; Hyosung moved out from the house and mom was barely around. Even less than dad, most weeks. Kangjoon started to try to handle everything, daily meals and school schedules balanced with studies, after school programs and, well, the favor of attention from people who liked to make out or do a little more. It was difficult, damn difficult, trying to string together family time with just Jaeho there more often than not but Kangjoon would be damned if he hadn't at least tried. Underneath a slow, slow anger built, the kind of temper that could drive a man to snap on a short wind but life has its way of learning to curb what could be, to fit what must. That is a lesson Kangjoon learned hard and fast on one of the rare afternoon's he got to spend with his father, a boy's night out just to try to build their time together, to bond.
“They might not make it through the night...” )
Recovery was difficult, to say the least. Kangjoon pushing himself at a tender age of sixteen to try and fight to help his brother do the same, his brother's resistance, the turbulence of being thrown to live with their sister who now had even more to suffer. Then the fires began, slowly, Kangjoon's temper setting itself ablaze with that same old ache and the scratch of sounds inside of his head. The doctors were who sent him to Pyeongchang first, who showed the survivors what had really happened and after a few months of burning off his clothes every time he tried to even light the darkness of a room Kangjoon sort of got a hang on things. Enough, at least. He felt better in direct daylight, he never tired, he never stayed sick for long. It was like his father's last gift was this new safety, this new way to make damn sure the family would be safe even if Jaeho could never see it that way; Kangjoon wanted to honor the dead man's memory with all he had. He just wasn't all that keen on doing so fiscally.
For a while, Kangjoon did try; he went to meetings on behalf of his father and he kept the money coming in with the barest of understandings. These days the options are more board than legal and he can manage it simply enough: he still manages the distribution of their money amongst the kids as was deesigned in his father's will, too, seeing as searching for their mother has kind of proven to be a vain cause. It was a bit much for a boy to handle at seventeen but he did it and he let himself go wild outside of it to make amends. He had to, really, because the fires started getting out of control and one day, when trying to practice, Kangjoon had almost killed his trainer when finally all the clawing sounds came to light and Kindle was born before them, a dragon full of sun and flare.
Rock became a safe haven, not school. Kangjoon joined a band and began to call the lead singer his girlfriend; he was drumming all day and making love to her all night and things, things were pretty great. But it was a temporary fix and Kangjoon thought with all his youthful, loving heart that she'd understood that. So when he proposed to her, marriage to a guy who didn't have much to him but his willingness to act and some money in his pocket, he thought she got that, too; that he wanted her and a better life than what they were set up to have. They were together for a good two years that way, engaged and happy and playing together as Kangjoon started getting part time jobs just for life experience. It turned out she didn't like the idea and one day Kangjoon came home to her engagement ring and a letter on the table. The engagement was off and Neon Zebra had even found a new drummer. It was done.
Work, booze and sex were the only things to get lost in. One of his part time jobs had been being a short order cook and that gave way, eventually, to actually being a cook; for a take out joint, sure, but one all the same where he got to start plating things properly. One thing lead to another and Kangjoon began to cook, really cook, taking pictures of the food for pride's sake and starting to post them along on sites. The take out restaurant lead to meeting a restaurant owner who, after hiring Kangjoon introduced him to others. Charm and talent was a good enough mix of things for the sunshine boy, really, and Kangjoon was able to worm his way into a gig for a while traveling for lifestyle magazines working briefly in restaurants and promoting their recipes with new looks. A food stylist, a lovely thing, never having to kill himself all day long for years on end like his father had.
Kangjoon couldn't avoid it all completely, though; food styling lead to getting work on television shows behind the scenes and that lead to meeting one rising starlet known as miss Park Kyungri. Kangjoon was doomed the moment he met her, almost caught breathless by the sight of her and it wasn't long before he was leaving her breathless right back; they were dating a few months after meeting and things were, well, good. Really good. But, like when he was a kid, Kangjoon ignored the bad in favor of hoping for the best until it all became too much. Her nagging, her controlling ways, her jealousy were all a bit much and they came to an end with a few of Kangjoon's things shattering out on the sidewalk when Kyungri threw them out the window. The rest burned or came to shreds. He liked that part, honestly, like her spite was fun. He had other things to do, though, focusing on work more and trying to get more and more jobs around the world.
But that, too, got a bit tiring. Kangjoon began to write for himself, blogging at first just to get his thoughts out before it began to tack real traction. The tips he'd been given from cooks around the world began to pay off: he knew what he was talking about when he wrote and he could cook his ass off to back it up, too. He kept his job as freelance food stylist, of course, even getting a few gigs on movies and television shows overseas but never staying there long; traveling is key, for him, and just the way he likes it. By twenty four he'd already published his first two cookbooks, too, and created himself a new persona that proved to be successful in all new ways. The King Quits posts in various languages to keep people guessing his origin, venting with false recipes and plating proving beautiful but ultimately simple in taste just to spite some of the people Kangjoon had wound up working for over time. Under the pen name, he got another two books done, the last of which released in December of 2015, just in time for Christmas.
Always on the look out for new opportunities, Kangjoon began to let himself be the focus before the camera now and again. He made appearances on television shows, sparsely until he actually participated in three seperate cooking competition shows, winning two of them. New doors opened then, the handsome face with a bit of talent and much too much mouth on him, including a few commercial deals for his own face to feature in now that he was a known figure for food, starting with an ad for NescafÉ. Life, always on the go, has proven itself to be pretty damn good afterall.