Ms. Han turned to twelve-year old Jungah. She placed her hands on her daughter’s shoulders and looked into her eyes with a tired, somber expression. “Jungah, this is our new home now. You’ll have a father and a new brother now. I want you to give them utmost respect.”
Even then, Jungah scowled. She was never a happy child.
The only difference between little Jungah and the older Jungah was that that the older one knew how to fight while the little one only had a big mouth to shoot off of.
Jungah shrugged her mother’s hand off her shoulder and sullenly crossed her arms, “You didn’t even have a damn wedding. I hardly know these men, and they will not be my new ing family.”
“Jungah, language, please.” Ms. Han wearily sighed. She rang the doorbell with another warning look at Jungah.
Jungah completely disregarded it and sulked unhappily.
A moment later, the door to the small, dirty house opened. A tall man with square shoulders and an apathetic expression stood at the doorway. Ms. Han greeted him, “Junghoon-shi…” “You came earlier than expected.” At first, he seemed hesitant to let them in, but he opened the door wider.
“Thank you.” Ms. Han submissively bowed. She pulled Jungah inside their new home.
Jungah looked around the grimy house and wrinkled her nose in distaste. *We’re supposed to live here now? This is worse than the apartment we lived in.*
Ms. Han turned Jungah towards her new husband, “Junghoon-shi, this is Jungah, my daughter. She’s twelve. Say hello, Jungah.” Jungah gave a quick, tiny bow without any greeting. Mr. Woo didn’t seem to care. “I have a son also. He’s fifteen, so he’ll be her oppa. Woo Jiho! Come out!”
*Great.* Jungah rolled her eyes. “Coming!” A voice shouted.
The last door opened, and a tall, skinny boy with short brown hair and a black t-shirt darted over.
“You called, dad?”
“Meet your new family. I told you last night, right? Your stepmom and your stepsister.” Mr. Woo introduced. Zico grinned and bowed, “Annyeonghasayo! Jiho imnida!”
Ms. Han was surprised by his cheerful attitude. “H-hello, Jiho. Um,” She placed her thin hand on Jungah’s shoulder, “This is my daughter, Jungah.”
Zico’s eyes shifted down to his new stepsister. Jungah boorishly stared at him. *What the hell is he staring at?! Look away!* A big, radiant smile came on his face. He bent down to her height with an amiable smile and held out his hand, “Hi, Jungah. I’m Woo Jiho, but friends call me Zico. You can call me Jiho oppa or Zico oppa now. After all, I’m your big brother now, right?”
Jungah rolled his eyes with a scoff, “Big brother, my .” She slapped his hand away.
Zico blinked at her in surprise. “Jungah!” Ms. Han warned. Mr. Woo, as always, didn’t care.
“Where’s my room?” Jungah took her backpack and walked away.
*She has an attitude. Oh well!* Happily, Zico went to help her find her new room that he had cleaned yesterday.
Mr. Woo and Ms. Han met eyes and uncomfortably looked away. To be honest, they hadn’t married out of love, but to make life ‘easier’. Ms. Han needed someone to guard her daughter and herself and help pay the bills. Mr. Woo, on the other hand, needed someone to do the house chores and take care of his growing son.
Zico opened the door next to his, “Ta-da! This is your new bedroom!”
Jungah furrowed her eyebrows at the dimly-lit room. The walls were covered with brown stains, and the springs were already coming out of the bed. “Look! I washed the blankets, and I bought new curtains so the neighbors couldn’t peek at you while you’re changing!” Zico grinned proudly.
Jungah eyed the duckling curtains. *How old does he think I am? Two?* She put her backpack on the bed and sat down on the mattress.
“Do you need help settling in?” Zico asked. Jungah shook her head.
“Okay then…I’ll leave you to adjust.” He gave her a sincere smile, “I hope we’ll get along. I’m happy to have a new sister. I’ll be the best big brother you’ll ever have!”
Jungah rolled her eyes. “Later! Don’t hesitate to call if you need me!” Zico waved and left.
Jungah shook her head. *His cheerfulness irritates me. God, I’m going to hate living here.*
A couple days later, the school opened for the new year. Jungah wore her new red and black uniform and had her first awkward day at Eunkwang Middle School. She didn’t make any new friends, and she planned to keep it that way. When her first day was over, Jungah left the school and walked towards the gate.
“Jungah! Hey Jungah!” Someone called. “KYAA! THAT’S BRANDNEW STARDOM HIGH’S JJANG!” Girls squealed.
*Jjang?* Jungah turned around, and her eyes widened. *What the hell is he doing here?!*
Zico grinned and waved, “Jungie Jungie~”*OHMYGOD!*
Jungah wanted to dig a hole and crawl into it. Everyone stared at her. “Is he calling her?”
“JUNGAH!” Zico waved both arms. She scowled. *He is SO dead!*
Jungah stormed up to him with a fierce glare. “Shut your mouth!” She hissed.
Zico stopped shouting and stared at her.
Jungah looked up at his arms high up in the air and yanked them down, “Quit waving your arms! Can’t you see that you’re embarrassing me?!”
“Oh. Sorry, Jungie Jungie~” Zico sheepishly grinned. “Hi, Jiho oppa!” A few middle school girls giggled. He smiled with a friendly wave, “Hi.” He pointed at Jungah, “She’s my sister. Take care of her.” “Sister?!” Their eyes widened. “Stop it!” She hissed.
The girls left, and Zico faced her, “Am I really that embarrassing?”
“You didn’t notice?” Jungah coldly asked.
“But I’m the jjang. Everyone loves me.” Zico pouted.
Jungah rolled her eyes. *This guy has no shame.*
“What are you doing here anyways?” “Why else? To pick you up from school.” Zico patted his black and white motorcycle. “Hop on, sis.”
“Don’t. Call. Me. That.” Jungah growled.
“Okay. Hop on, Jungie Jungie!” Zico demanded.
“Don’t call me that either- hey!” She yelped as he picked her up and set her on his motorcycle. “What are you doing?! You crazy?!”
“Probably.” Zico placed his spare helmet over her head and hopped on in front of her.
“Hold tightly onto me, okay?” He asked. “You wish.” She snorted with her arms sourly crossed. Zico took her hands and wrapped her arms around his waist. Jungah’s eyes widened at the touch. “What the freak-“ Zico wouldn’t let her pull away. He glanced back at her with stern eyes through the visor of his motorcycle. “I’m serious. Don’t ever let go. I don’t want you to get hurt.” Her eyes softened slightly for a couple seconds then she looked away with a scowl, “Hurry up and go.”
“Yes, mam!” Zico saluted. He was back to his cheerful, childish self.
Jungah shook her head. *What a geek.*
Zico sped off into the busy street. Jungah dared rest her cheek against his back. His warmth radiated from his back, and it shielded her from the cold wind.
Twenty minutes later, they stopped by a dukkbokki shop. Zico hopped off and pulled his helmet off his head.
Jungah pulled her own helmet off and frowned up at the eatery, “This isn’t home.”
“I never told you we were going home.” Zico chuckled. He nodded, “Come on. Follow me. I’ll introduce you to my friends.”
*I don’t want to meet your stupid friends.* Yet, Jungah followed him inside.
“Oy, Zico!” Someone called. Zico waved back and headed over.
Jungah saw a group of six guys hi-fiving him.
Zico glanced back and waved her over, “Come here, Jungah!” Instantly, the guys fixed their gaze on her. Jungah felt mortified. Yet, she had no choice and shuffled over.
“Who is this?” A skinny boy on the short side with black hair looked her up and down.
Zico grinned, “My new sister Jungah.”
“SHUT UP! NO WAY!” The boys chorused. One boy with brown hair and narrowed eyes gazed at her with his eyebrow slightly raised. “Aw, you look so cute~” A boy with bright orange hair and an impish grin reached out to pinch her cheek. Jungah quickly slapped his hand away, “Don’t touch me!” “Ow!” He wagged his hand. His red-haired friend raised an eyebrow, “She has quite a temper, doesn’t she?”
“Yep! Just like me!” Zico proudly smiled.
“Who are you kidding, Woo Jiho? You never lose your temper. You were smiling while the Sunggo High boys insulted you.” Taeil snorted. Everyone laughed.
Zico laughed then straightened up. “Jungah, meet my gang from Brandnew Stardom. U-Kwon, the one you slapped.” “Not a pleasure. You’re the first girl that slapped me.” He rubbed his hand with a frown. “B-Bomb hyung.” Zico nodded at the red-haired male. “P.O.” Zico pointed to the tall maknae with black-framed glasses. “Taeil hyung and Jaehyo hyung.” Zico motioned to the two oldest. “And my bff Park Kyung.” He slapped the black-haired boy on the back.
“Ow, man. Easy.” Kyung grinned and held his hand out, “Nice to meet you, Zico’s little sister.”
“I’m NOT his sister.” Jungah hissed. “Careful. She’ll bite.” U-Kwon said.
Jungah threw him a nasty look. “I’m out of here.” She turned to go, but Zico grabbed her arm, “Don’t go! Not unless you ate the best dukkbokki in the world!” Before she could protest, he yanked her down into the empty chair and sat next to her. “LARGE DUKKBOKKI, PLEASE!” Zico yelled. “Okay!” The cook replied.
“Yummy!” Zico eagerly pulled out chopsticks and handed a pair to Jungah and kept the other for himself.
“So, how old are you, Jungah?” Kyung asked. “Twelve.” Zico answered for her.
“I have a mouth, you know. I can speak for myself.” Jungah stated.
“Damn. Feisty.” Kyung laughed. Jaehyo shook his head. He didn’t like her attitude already.
The food came and everyone ate. Jungah watched the boys pig out and made a face in disgust. *Pigs.* “Have some, Jungah.” Zico held the dukkbokki out. “No.” But as soon as she opened , he popped it in. She glowered at him angrily. Yet, she could taste the spicy, sweet food in . He grinned knowingly, “What did I say? It’s the best.” Jungah swallowed the dukkbokki. Zico pushed the dish towards her, “Have some.” Jungah reluctantly reached out.
Soon, only one dukkbokki was left. P.O. reached out, but Zico slapped his hand. “Ow, hyung!” He complained. “This is all Jungie Jungie’s!” Zico put the place in front of her. He gave her a disarmingly charming smile and patted her head, “Eat.”
Jungah was surprised at how well he was taking care of her and quietly bit into the last dukkbokki.
“You sure know how to tame your sister.” Kyung said.
Jungah stared him down. He held his arms up in defense, “I didn’t mean anything bad.”
U-Kwon stared at Jungah for a long time. She sneered, “What the hell are you staring at?!” He turned his gaze to Zico, “If your sister wasn’t so damn y, I’d ask her out.”
“You fool! She’s twelve!” Kyung cracked up.
Zico protectively put his arm around her shoulder, “No! I’d never let you date my Jungie Jungie!”
Jungah rolled her eyes and pushed his arm off of her, “Will you stop calling me that annoying nickname?”
“I agree. It is annoying.” Kyung held his fist out. Jungah paused then lightly bumped his fist.
“Hey, hey! Me, too!” Zico held out his fist. Jungah crossed her arms and disregarded him. His face fell, “Jungah!” Kyung laughed, “All right! I like this girl. She can be my new sister as well.”
“Mine, too.” P.O. said. “But she looks more like Jaehyo, so she can be Jaehyo’s sister.” B-Bomb pointed.
“Leave me out of this.” Jaehyo growled.
“No! Stop! She’s MY sister!” Zico panicked.
Jungah stood up, and everyone stopped talking. “I’m off. Don’t bother coming after me.” She walked out of the eatery. The gang was quiet for a moment then B-Bomb spoke, “You sure you can handle her, Jiho? No offense, but your new stepsister is a with a capital B.”
Zico smirked lightly, “I like her just the way she is.”
“Apparently, she hates your guts though.” Kyung pointed out.
“I’ll make her like me. I have a way with people. If I can make Jaehyo hyung my friend, I can make her my sister as well.” Zico shrugged. Jaehyo scowled and rolled his eyes.
Kyung nodded, “Can’t argue with that. You finally brought the emo turtle out of his shell.”
His friends also nodded in agreement.