i've been watching the army reality show real men lately andd it's inspiring? kinda. XD that, and how jackson was checking out their ~handsome instructor~. so i just /had/ to write JB as the instructor.
His stomach was hurting, his hands were sweating and he was overall the most nervous he had ever been while filming something. Jackson had known Real Men wouldn’t be an easy deal but it had still exceeded all his expectations and concerns. Being in a strange and stressful environment with unfamiliar people was one thing but coping with it with a slight language barrier made it even more challenging for him. Jackson was aware that his Korean was still far from perfect but all the army phrases and vocabulary suddenly made him feel like he was 17 again and first time encountering the language. And it definitely didn’t help that their Company Commander and Instructor was very strict, very scary and very handsome. And who, for some reason, took Jackson as his target more often than not.
Commander Im Jaebum had a scary aura, loud voice and piercing gaze, and even the older members of Jackson’s team, veteran actors or comedians who all had gone through army once, were fidgety before him. Jackson was, too, but at the same time he couldn’t stop stealing glances at the Instructor, his sharp yet handsome features, flawless skin and high cheekbones.
He did that even with the risk of being scolded. Which still happened, a lot. Commander Im had given Jackson a hard time since the very beginning.
“Recruit Jackson, what is this?”
“It’s organic green tea, Sir.”
“Why do you have it? You aren’t allowed to bring any food items here.”
“I– I’m sowwy.”
“I’ll take it. And you won’t need these items either, all the toiletries are provided for you.”
“I… cannot use my face mist? Or my own toothpaste?”
“Did you not hear what I just said?! Everything is provided!”
It didn’t help that Jackson had problems with the proper pronunciation of apologies, which often made his fellow squad members trying to desperately hold their laughter and Commander frustrated.
“Recruit Jackson, why aren’t you standing still?”
“There was a bee, Sir.”
“You must stand still when ordered no matter what.”
“I’m sowwy, Sir.”
“What did you say?”
“I. Am. Sorry.”
“–and stop apologizing all the time.”
“I’m s–... Understood, Sir.”
Most of the time Jackson didn’t even have to play up his role as the comedic foreigner; he was lost enough to begin with and all the amusing episodes the directors and producers were looking for usually just happened on their own. But for the show or not, Jackson was sure that half of the time he was really yet unintentionally testing Commander’s temper. But Jackson also thought that a couple of times he’d almost made the Commander smile, too.
Once was when they’d just come back from the shooting and combat practice, which had gone very well for Jackson. The instructors had all complemented him, and because Jackson liked being complemented and because it was a rather rare occurrence for him in the army, he sure wanted their Commander to hear about his good performance, too. So when the Commander mentioned about their practice in the evening before they returned to the barrack, he couldn’t stop himself.
“You had lots of challenging practices today and I heard that you all worked hard for them, which I’m very pleased of. ...What is it, recruit Jackson?”
“I was just wondering whether you heard about our scores, too? Are you proud of us?” Proud of me is what he really wanted to ask but that would’ve been too much.
Jackson was sure he saw the Commander’s mouth twitch slightly but he composed himself quickly and after clearing his throat, only said “You did well” before letting them go in, but after all the scolding that alone sounded like the best praise to Jackson.
Other unexpected incident happened a day later when they were training hand-to-hand combat with other soldiers. During his turn, Jackson had sprained his ankle slightly and the instructor had ordered him to go and get it checked at the first-aid tent. Turned out it was nothing too serious but the medic put a supporting band on the ankle just in case. Jackson was just tying his boot when the Commander suddenly appeared by the tent.
“Recruit, is everything alright? I heard you hurt your foot during the training?”
“Yes Sir, everything’s fine. My ankle sprained but it’s tied up now.”
“Can you continue the training?”
“Good. Off you go, then. And be careful with your foot, recruit.”
And before he walked away, he shortly patted Jackson on the shoulder, so quickly that later on Jackson wondered whether he had imagined it all.
Maybe he had.
That evening, the Commander made them do 20 push-ups because Jackson had forgotten to clean his boots.
The three-day filming period ended eventually, and Jackson and his fellow squad members could finally say goodbye to all the strict instructors, stiff army language and their uniforms. But instead of relief, Jackson felt slight disappointment while changing back to his civil clothes and getting all his personal belongings back. They’d filmed their goodbye scenes with Commander Im earlier but Jackson had secretly hoped they would see him again without all the cameras but it didn’t look likely after all.
After saying goodbye to other cast members and taking a couple of group selfies, Jackson reluctantly made his way out of the barracks. His manager had just messaged him saying that they were waiting for him at the parking lot.
Jackson was just about to walk through the gates when he heard someone calling him.
He turned and saw no one else but the Commander walking to him. He automatically straightened his posture and raised his hand for salute.
And this time the Commander really smiled at him. “At ease, soldier. You’re not on duty anymore so you can speak casually.”
Jackson felt a bit weak at the knees. “Really? I can? Oh god, this feels so weird!”
The Commander laughed and yeah, Jackson was a goner.
“I hope the filming wasn’t too stressful or hard for you? I know it must challenging for a foreigner...”
“Oh no, it was great experience. I’m glad I got to do this.”
And then, for better or worse: “Is it really ok to be casual with you?”
He was still a bit scary. But he was also very handsome and seemed friendly enough and his smile was out of this world. And because Jackson was Jackson, he just had to ask.
“Okay then, hyung. Would you have time for a dinner tonight?”
kira_shadow, you're up!