“Come on! Kill that monster! Die! Die! Die!” U-Kwon jabbed his controller.
“NOOO!” Taeil moaned.
P.O. guffawed as he shoved popcorn into his mouth.
At that moment in time, Block B was seniors in high school, and Jungah was merely a freshman. All eight of them were at U-Kwon’s house on a Friday night.
“Heck yeah! Who is the boss?” U-Kwon hi-fived Kyung.
“Move, hyung. I’ll beat U-Kwon hyung for you.” P.O. sat in Taeil’s place.
“Pfft. You wish, gigantic maknae. You’re nothing but a tadpole to me. I can beat you with one hand tied behind my back.” U-Kwon confidentally stated.
“We’ll see.” P.O. reset the game.
Zico laughed at their friendly banter.
“Looks like someone grew bored of the game.” B-Bomb chuckled. “Muh?!” U-Kwon asked in outrage with his eyes glued on the screen. B-Bomb glanced back with a snicker, “Uh, Zico? Your stepsister fell asleep.”
Zico looked up from the armchair. Jungah was asleep on the couch in the back with her head on Jaehyo’s lap. His arms were crossed with a sulking expression.
“Don’t make that face, Jaehyo hyung. You look like Jungah’s doppelganger.” Kyung shuddered.
“Don’t sprout such nonsense . What the hell are you doing just sitting there, Woo Jiho? Come take your freaking sister off my lap. Her head is as heavy as metal.” Jaehyo shifted his lap. Jungah began to move in her sleep.
Zico swiftly got up and held one hand out, “Easy, hyung. She’ll wake up.” He placed his soda can on the table and walked over. Zico slipped his arms under Jungah. She clutched onto Jaehyo’s knee reflexively. He stiffened and glared at her.
“Zico.” Jungah mumbled.
Zico chuckled, “Sweetie, that ain’t me. That’s Jaehyo hyung.” He sat her up and crouched down in front of her.
“Jaehyo…ick.” She mumbled.
“PUHAHA! DID YOU HEAR THAT HYUNG? SHE EVEN HATES YOU IN HER SLEEP!” Kyung pointed and laughed.
“The feelings are mutual.” Jaehyo sneered.
“A little help someone?” Zico asked.
Jaehyo rolled hs eyes. Gently with rough hands, he helped her onto Zico’s back.
Zico lifted her up, “Kyung, get my jacket and put it over Jungah. Make sure it doesn’t’ fall.” “Araso.” Kyung safely tucked the black hoodie over Jungah. “I’m going first. Later.” Zico said his farewell and left the house. He walked down the cold, dark night street. Zico glanced back at Jungah to make sure she was safe. Her arms unconsciously wound tighter around his neck, and she snuggled into his broad, heated back.
Zico affectionately smiled. “We’ll almost be home, Jungie Jungie. Let’s get you into your nice, toasty bed.”
When they came home, no one else was home. Zico carried Jungah to her room and carefully laid her on the bed. He removed her red converses from her feet and draped the blanket over her thin figure. “Whew.” Zico pluked down on the edge of her bed. He shifted his attention towards her face, and his eyes softened automatically.
A powerful surge of warm, tender emotions bubbled out from his heart.
*This is what it feels like to be in love.*
Zico never knew his stepsister would be his first love. It wasn’t love at first sight or anything. When he first saw Jungah, he truly wanted to be a good brother. However, day by day, she began to intrude his heart. *Ever since one day…you came into my heart Han Jungah. Your rare smiles make my heart beat faster, and the way you try so hard to be tough makes me feel giddy inside. I love you a lot, and I wish you would always stay by my side.*
Slowly, Zico bent down. His lips were about to meet hers. He closed his eyes for the long awaited moment.
Suddenly, the door burst open.
“Jungah, are you home-“
Zico’s eyes flew wide open, and he shot up fast.
Ms. Han (currently Mrs. Jiho) stopped in her tracks.
*Damn.* Zico looked away with a burning face, “U-umma…”
Ms. Han glanced down at sleeping Jungah then suspiciously gazed up at her stepson. “What were you doing to Jungah…?”
Zico realized how bad this looked. He frantically shook his head, “Nothing, umma. We just came home, and I was just putting her to bed…” Zico lowered his head and whispered, “That’s all.”
“…Okay then. You may go.” Ms. Han said.
Zico bowed, glanced back at Jungah, and then walked out of the room.
Ms. Han couldn’t push away the feelings of doubt. She looked at Jungah in alarm. *What is Jiho is in love with Jungah? No, no, no.* Ms. Han shook her head. She went by Jungah’s side and took her hand. *I can never let him be with you. For one, he is your stepbrother. But two, he is just like your father and stepfather. He was raised from the lowest of the lowest. If you continue with the path that I went through, there will be nothing but suffering ahead for you. I don’t want that for you. I want you to grow up into a beautiful lady and be with someone who will be able to take care of you.*
Ms. Han shook her head and rested her forehead on Jungah’s hand. *I want the best for you, my one and only daughter.*
Zico and Jungah were anxiously standing around in Ms. Han’s hospital room.
It had only been two months since Mr. Woo had gotten into an accident at the construction site and passed away.
Ms. Han’s health had quickly deteriorated after that. She had trouble breathing, and her pulse uneasily picked up and dropped at random times.
Jungah squeezed her mother’s hand with tears in her eyes. *I won’t forgive you if you leave me, too. First dad, then stepdad, and now you. Come on, mom. You’re strong. Get up!*
Ms. Han gazed at Jungah with a deathly pale face. Tears filled her eyes. She reached out to touch her daughter’s cheek one last time. As soon as her finger grazed Jungah’s cheek, her pulse went out of control. Ms. Han choked on her breath, and her eyes rolled to the back of her head.
Jungah shot up, “UMMA!” “UMMA!” Zico shook her in panic.
Jungah pressed the call button, “SOMEBODY HELP! MY MOM IS DYING!”
There was no response.
“SOMEONE ING ANSWER! DAMN IT!” She ran out of the room.
Ms. Han gasped for air. Her eyes flipped back, and she gazed up at Zico. He squeezed her hand, “Umma, please wait. Jungah went to get help. Just a little longer-“
Ms. Han shook her head. His eyes rounded, “Umma…”
She beckoned him closer. He bent down.
“Don’t…love…Jungah…” Ms. Han raggedly whispered.
Zico stiffened. He stared at her in horror. “B-but…she…she is my sister-“ She gripped onto his shirt and looked him straight in the eyes, “Yes. She’s your sister…and only…your sister…” Tears fell down the corner of her eyes as she fervently shook her head, “You cannot…be with her…you need to…take care of her…but not…love her…like that. Do you understand…?”
He looked away from her stifling gaze.
Ms. Han squeezed his arm, “Promise me…promise me…you won’t…act upon…your feelings. You and Jungah…are not meant…to be.”
Zico felt his own oxygen cutting off. Her final words cut through his chest and made his heart bleed.
“Promise me!” Ms. Han demanded.
Zico slowly exhaled. Then he turned to meet eyes with his stepmother and slowly nodded, “I promise, umma…”
Her grip began to loosen.
“MOM!” She heard Jungah from afar.
Ms. Han looked up at the celing and blinked away her tears. She could feel her end coming. Her gaze drifted towards Zico.
She liked him, really. She was grateful that he had been so accepting of her and Jungah.
However, she did not feel that he was a good pair for her daughter.
“Jiho-ah…” Ms. Han thinly whispered. He turned to her.
“…I’m sorry.” With that, she closed her eyes.
Those two words had set the deal between Zico and his dead stepmother. By just those couple words, he could tell how much Ms. Han had really loved her daughter. She wanted someone better for Jungah. He was not worthy enough for her, and he knew that.
But deep inside his heart, he ached for her.
It was pathetic.
Inside, Zico pined for Jungah. But outside, he remained smiling.
It was slowly killing him inside.
Zico’s tears hit the floor, and for the first time in a long time, he was sobbing. *I know. I’m her stepbrother AND an illegal drug dealer. I don’t want someone like me to be with Jungah either. I’ll try hard to keep my promise, umma. Instead, please don’t take Jungah by my side. Let her remain by my side as a sister or even a friend. If I lose her, I lose everything.*