Chapter Six - Already Fallen
DO HYUN FINALLY got the courage in high school to ask me out and I decided to yes before I even finished reading his letter. By our second year in high school, we were practically the power couple. All of our friends, at least, expected us to stay together all through high school.
Do Hyun was charming and sweet and everything I’d ever wanted in a boyfriend. The best part about it was that he actually liked me back. He asked me out on White Day. When I sat down at my desk there was a dark blue box sitting on my books, exactly like the one I’d gotten several years before. It was tied up with the same ribbon as before and I easily transferred it to my hair before opening the box. It had chocolate inside, along with a note written on blue paper with silver pen. This time, it was in his handwriting.
It was a long letter talking about how much Do Hyun liked me but didn’t have the courage to tell me until now. Would I accept his heart? Without hesitation, I rose to my feet and moved over to Do Hyun’s desk where he was doodling in his notebook, his hands shaking. Jongin, who had been watching me read the letter, picked it up and was reading it as Do Hyun’s gaze lifted to meet mine.
“Yes.” I said simply, “Yes, I will accept your heart. Will you accept mine?”
If Do Hyun could have kissed me right there in the classroom, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have. Instead, he rose to his feet and pulled me into a tight hug, which I gratefully reciprocated. The classroom erupted into cheers, only Jongin was silent. While we couldn’t kiss at school, Do Hyun made up for it by kissing me as he walked me to the bus stop. As first kisses went, I’d say mine was pretty good.
By the time high school rolled around, Jongin had started training with SM Entertainment. He still came to school, just not as often but we kept to seeing each other when he came home in the evenings and on Saturdays. I always asked Do Hyun if he was jealous of Jongin because we were so close, but he always said that if he was he never would have asked me out. He said he couldn’t imagine Jongin and I ever having romantic feelings for each other, which I agreed with to his face. After my crush on Jongin in grade school, I couldn’t be sure if my feelings would come back.
Either way, freshman year was a roller coaster. No one quite knew how to act like high school students, so everyone was always so stressed. While no one really had time for dating, it didn’t stop anyone. I went out with Do Hyun and as far as I knew Jongin was going out with Hwa Eun. At first it bothered me, but I figured if it was decision to go out with her then who was I to put him down. As his best friend it was part of my duty to support him, even if I didn’t like his girlfriend.
“I told you, Seo Kyung-ah, that’s just a rumor.” Jongin shut down my theory of about them dating with a phrase and a twinkling smile as we waited for the bus together, “You know she’s liked me since we were eight.”
“I know, but-” I started, but Jongin pushed a finger against my lips, cutting me off.
“Seo Kyung-ah, you don’t have to worry about me dating Hwa Eun of all people. I like someone else and she just has to deal with i- OWWW!” Jongin cried when I took his finger between my teeth and bit down.
“Yah,” I scolded, hitting his head, “How am I supposed to know between truth and reality? Hwa Eun is a good liar.”
“Yah,” Jongin mimicked my tone of voice which earned him another smack on the head, “We’re best friends. You should always believe me when I tell you something, okay? I’d never lie to you, Seo Kyung-ah.”
I BELIEVED him. He really didn’t recognize me. Jongin, my best friend, stood there with blank eyes as he looked into mine. A moment ago, anger flared in his eyes from being interrupted, not from being spoken to informally. He apologized for his harsh words and I had to ask...
“Do you... know me?” I asked slowly, slipping back into formal talk.
“I’m sorry, I don’t.” Jongin shook his head.
For a moment, I doubted myself. Did I get the wrong Jongin? Did Cha Hyun mess up? That was impossible, I decided quickly. His lips and his deer-in-the-headlights look were too obviously him. I could pick him out of a crowd, so why couldn’t he pick me?
“Ah, I see...” I trailed off, “I’m sorry, I must have mixed you up with someone else.”
“It’s okay.” There was a twinkle in his eye as his lips curved up into a smile.
“I’ll... go back in...” I turned around and headed back towards the karaoke room, but his voice stopped me in my tracks.
“Actually...” he started and my head whipped around.
“Where... is the bathroom?”
I would be lying if I said my heart didn’t fall out of my chest, through my feet and to the floor. He really had no idea who I was. It was possible it was because of my makeup, but did it really make me that unrecognizable? I mean, I still recognized him even though he had layers and layers of makeup on his face. I showed him the way to to the bathroom before heading back into the karaoke room.
The night was almost over. Sehun was passed out, Baekhyun was finishing a beer, Lay was belting out a song that sounded Chinese, and the rest of the boys were tiredly bopping along. Suho was sober enough to know that it was time to get his bandmates home, so as I entered the room he slipped passed me, shooting me a smile. He stopped me so he could ask me where to pay and I gladly gave him directions. D.O. was the only other sober one, despite the fact that his voice was slurring slightly. He was well enough to help a completely sloshed Chanyeol out the door and up the stairs.
“Where did you go?” Baekhyun slurred when I reentered the room.
“Bathroom.” I lied easily.
“You go there a lot. Are you okay?” Baekhyun slung his arm around my shoulder.
“Yeah, it’s just one of those nights I guess.”
My buzz was wearing off and I was getting tired. Suho reentered the room and passed a few bucks to each of the girls, including me. I thanked him and offered to help the rest of the boys get out to the van.
“Thank you, but that’s okay. Lay, Xiumin, Baekhyun, Kai and Chen are staying for another hour or two, so don’t worry about it.” Suho shot me a dazzling smile.
“Okay, have a good night, then.”
“Thank you.” Suho started out, but turned to me at the last minute, “Ah, Seo Kyung-ssi.”
“Yes?” I inquired, somehow not worried that he knew my name.
“I talked to your manager and he said that if you wanted to leave you could.” Suho gave me a knowing look that made me do a double-take, “It’s hard, isn’t it? Being around him when he doesn’t even know you.”
“Do you...” I trailed off.
“Yah, Seo Kyung, how could I not recognize the girl Jongin won’t shut up about.” Suho’s grin brightened and my heart skipped a beat or two.
“Then,” I fell into a bow, “I’ll be leaving. Thank you.”
“Of course, Seo Kyung-ah.”
I took that opportunity to head out of the room and up towards the kitchen to confirm with Cha Hyun that I could leave. My head was spinning and I wondered if I was going to take a spectacular fall down the stairs. How did Suho know who I was but Jongin had no idea? My only consolation at this point was that as soon as I was out of the noraebang I was free and I would never have to deal with Jongin again.
As I climbed the stairs towards the kitchen, my gaze lifted to see Jongin heading down the stairs towards me. I kept my eyes on the stairs so I wouldn’t trip in my heels, which meant I could easily avoid eye contact with Jongin. He passed me and I got a decent whiff of cologne, but there was something else in there.
“Uh, excuse me...” his voice stopped me in my tracks and I turned to look at him. There was a question on his tongue, I could tell from the way his eyebrows scrunched up just like they did when we were little.
However, when his mouth opened to speak, I was terrified of his question.