judging from where you met, you knew krystal came from the canteen to get the ice-cold gatorade she handed you. and if your interpretation of what she said is correct, it only means she's been near the dojo all afternoon.
does that mean that she's been waiting for you to go out of the locker room?
at that instant, you remember what taeyeon told you yesterday about krystal already doing her part; that you should do your part this time.
maybe she is right. maybe you should make your move now.
besides, you're too tired of this push and pull thing with krystal. you don't want to be in pain anymore. you will tell her everything even if you get rejected. at least there'll be no more false hopes after that.
confessing is frightening. but before you worry about it, you need to find the perfect time for you to talk alone.
you took out the yin necklace from your drawer and stared at it. it's time to let krystal know you have the other half of her necklace.
the fun run marks the finale of the foundation week. all the fees collected from the participants will be donated to a particular charity the school is supporting.
the athletes, including yourself, are required to take part in the event. this is to encourage the common students to participate, which is effective because many are willingly joining.
the good thing is you get to see krystal. the bad thing is you get to see kai too. you hate hearing him boast about their victory even though he didn't contribute much to it.
krystal seems to be in a good mood today. she's talking to her friends cheerfully and not minding kai. she looks pretty wearing that white shirt and blue shorts uniform for the run.
you checked the yin necklace in your shorts pocket to make sure it's safe there. you've decided to bring it daily to school now. it would be easier to confess using that in case you get the chance to talk to krystal.
the starting pistol was fired to signal to start the run.
for the past two years, your usual strategy is to catch up and adjust your phase to match it with krystal's gang. you love watching and observing her from the back.
however, compared to the past two years, there was a slight difference this time. it would've been easier if you were with taeyeon alone as she supports you whenever you try to run along with krystal discreetly.
but it's not possible today because suzy is with you. she's a bit slow so you and taeyeon have to adjust.
it was after thirty minutes when the race has taken its toll on suzy. she asked you to stop for a second for her to catch her breath. you assisted her to the side to give her time for a short rest.
you looked at the people in front and noticed you were the last ones on the track. this means you won't be able to catch up with krystal anymore.
"are you all right?" you heard taeyeon ask suzy.
"don't worry, i'm not going to die yet..." suzy joshed.
"but you never enjoyed running, right?" you asked, remembering that this is the first time she joined this event. "what's with the sudden change of mind?"
"i just want to try it. we're graduating next year and i want to experience this before we leave school," suzy answered, wiping a towel on her face.
you exhaled, secretly hoping she won't join in next year.
"but are you sure you're okay? i thought you have this asthma thing?" asked taeyeon.
"i'm fine. it's not that serious, okay? c'mon, you two, help me get up so we could run now." suzy stretched her arms up.
you finally resumed but this time you were walking instead of jogging. then out of nowhere, you heard someone aching in pain from the dark alley you just passed by. you abruptly stopped, trying to make sense if you heard it right.
taeyeon noticed it. "what's wrong?"
you heard the same sound again. "there's someone..." you walked over to that alley. suzy and taeyeon followed.
as you were nearing, you heard voices.
"you never learn!" the first guy said. it was followed by a sound of a man crying in pain. "what? have you forgotten what we talked about before?"
you recognised that voice.
you peeked from the wall and saw kai beating byungho, a teammate who's stuck against the wall while kai attacks him.
"i told you to never steal my game, remember?" said kai, pulling byungho by his hair.
"i'm not... stealing your game... they surrounded you... i had to pass it to others..." said byungho. pain is obvious from his voice.
"that's bull!" kai launched another punch in the stomach, hard enough to make byungho puke blood.
that's when you've decided you needed to step in.
"amber, wait." taeyeon stopped you. "that guy is crazy. i don't think he even cares if he gets caught or not. and you showing here will give him a reason to attack you."
"but we can't let him beat byungho like that!"
"i know. but have you forgotten you still have the scholarship to protect?" asked taeyeon. "and you know he doesn't like you. showing here will give him a reason to attack you."
"she's right, amber. why don't we just leave and let a disciplinary office handle this instead?" said suzy.
"who's going to call a disciplinary officer?" a deep male voice said.
you whipped your heads, and there were jimin and jinhwan standing right behind you.
"why are you three snooping here?" asked jimin.
jinhwan pushed the three of you into the alley. "kai, we've got company."
kai parted himself from his prey who fell on the ground already unconscious. he scoffs. "wow. i have guests, huh. and of all the people, you," he said, eyes trailed on you.
"also, this also plans to call a disciplinary officer on you," said jimin, pushing suzy. "i thought she's your ally?"
"no, we're not allies!" said suzy. "i won't tolerate illicit acts like this!"
"illicit acts?" kai snorted. "says the one who's pretending to be an angel, huh?"
suzy exhales. "look, kai, we're willing to forget all of this. just let us leave and i can assure you we'll keep our mouths shut."
"and why would i do that? how can i believe you when you're the one who suggested calling a disciplinary officer on me?" asked kai.
"look, suzy is right," said taeyeon. "we'll pretend none of this happened. just let us leave with byungho so we can bring him to the infirmary. he needs medical attention."
kai shakes his head. "allow me to explain the situation. jinhwan, jimin, and i will be on the brink of getting kicked out of this school if anyone of you ever talk. i'm sure, with the way the kung fu master glares at me, she will talk after we let you go."
you didn't take your eyes away from him. "you ."
"why, thank you." kai smirked. he stepped forward, gliding his hands along the old wooden planks piled against the wall. "since we're going down after this, why don't we all go to hell, right? join us, let's all get kicked out of the school."
"kai! you're crazy!" said suzy. "you can't do this!"
"you shut up, suzy!" snapped kai. "you're nothing but a backstabbing !"
"no! i won't shut up!" answered suzy back. "once we get out of here, i'm gonna make sure i'll report all of you for beating up byungho and threatening us!"
"wow. so, the really has a backbone now, huh," said jimin, walking on kai's side. "do you want me to tell your friends here about the things you planned with kai to prevent amber and krystal from getting closer?"
you blinked at that.
suzy looked at you. "i will explain later to you, amber, after all of this is over."
"no. let's all hear it," suggested kai. "tell her how you came to me, begging, to make sure i keep krystal within my boundaries."
you looked at suzy. your heart starting to pound.
"i..." she swallows a lump in . "kai's telling the truth. i conspired with him to make sure krystal stays away from you."
"y-you what...?" said taeyeon, while you can't find the words to say.
"you two were getting closer. i can already tell when i saw you at hamster cafe," explained suzy. "i had to stop that so i told kai about your meeting. we plotted everything, from him picking up krystal and guarding her, up to the date we had in the park. that was all plotted..."
you stared at suzy in shock.
"i'm sorry, amber." she steps closer, one hand hovering over you, testing if it's okay to touch you. "i didn't mean to do that. i was selfish and jealous and immature. i'm sorry. i understand if you'll get mad at me."
you still couldn't come up with a response. but it makes sense to you now, of why all of that happened, of why krystal had to send a secret message to you just so she could warn you about kai.
but what makes little sense is why kai had to play a part in this if krystal is already his girlfriend. don't he trust her?
"i would understand if amber won't forgive me right away. but you know what i realise," said suzy as she turns to kai. "it's useless for us to go in between them, because you and i both know that they--"
"stop!" kai clutched his ears.
"--like each other."
"i said stop!" kai strode towards suzy. "i said you stop talking, !"
out of instinct, you and taeyeon stepped forward to hide suzy behind your backs.
"stop right there, big boy," warned taeyeon, already in position.
kai snorted, looking at you. "what? you're trying to protect her after all she's done?"
your nerves mounted. kai being this close could mean that he can attack you anytime and you'll be left with no choice but to defend yourselves.
even so, you remained in composure, still glaring at him.
kai laughed, his hands on his waist. "are you implying you'll attack me if i do something unpleasant?"
"we won't hesitate," said taeyeon.
"wow." kai clapped his hands. he turned to jimin. "i guess we don't need to pull your connections to get these two kicked out."
jimin smiled. "we'll still need my dad's help because we'll surely go through a trial for this one. but i'll make sure they all get kicked out, along with that suzy . let's eliminate all the dirt in this school."
you clenched your fist. your breathing has become heavy now. you're not sure what to prioritise anymore. you're worried about your scholarship and itching to punch kai now.
kai turned his back on you, hands trailing again on the plank of old plywoods. "so, i guess this is our final battle, huh?"
and in a flash, he grabbed the nearest plank in his reach and hit you with it.
your reflexes kicked in. you blocked the wood with your arms. however, the impact is so strong you fell on the ground, feeling an enormous pain in your left arm.
you seriously wish you didn't break a bone.
you were in the of oblivion, hoping your arm is still functional after you recover.
you heard suzy scream. you got a glimpse of taeyeon getting attacked by jinhwan from behind with another plank of wood.
everything blacked out for a moment. the pain in your arms suspended your senses. you hear nothing anymore. you were on the ground, wincing in pain, somehow expecting another attack will hit you anytime now.
you opened your eyes and saw kai raising the wood on top of his head, aiming it at you. hate is burning in his eyes.
as soon as your senses kicked in, you rolled away, dodging kai's second attack. the wood broke upon hitting the ground.
you kneeled up and felt someone behind you. it was taeyeon.
"amber, you all right?" she asked, preparing to defend herself from jinhwan.
"got hit but i'm alive. you?"
"got hit from the back. good thing i was able to somehow evade." there were trickles of blood on her shirt from the hit she got on her head.
"you sure you're all right?"
"yeah." taeyeon nodded confidently. "holding back will not help us now, will it?"
"you're right. let's give them what they want, without hesitation," you said firmly. you turned to suzy who's still standing in the same spot she was earlier, shocked. "suzy! leave us! get any help you can!"
suzy fixed her eyes at you and nodded.
"no, you won't!" jinhwan strode towards suzy to stop her.
"run!" taeyeon, who knows what's on jinhwan's mind, quickly ran, slid down on the ground and trifled him.
"! kai, she's running away!" said jinhwan, trying to get up.
you run to blocked kai. his fist launched towards your face, hitting the air. you locked his arm with yours to stop him from moving further. after gaining momentum, you kicked his stomach, sending him flying away from you and landing on the floor with a crash.
you were shocked. now you're sure your life in the university is over after what you've done.
"jimin..." said kai, trying to get up. "follow..." he pointed at the direction of the track.
you didn't stop jimin knowing she won't be able to catch up with suzy. instead, you prepared yourself for the next wave.
from your peripheral view, jinhwan fell on the ground after taeyeon hit him with a roundhouse.
you forgot taeyeon takes taekwondo lessons outside school.
ironies of life: just as when she needed a disciplinary officer for help, that's when she can't find one.
suzy was half-running now. she's almost out of breath. she knows she's supposed to stop to take a rest but the urgency and worry are stronger than her lungs.
in her hurry to get help, she didn't mind her condition. she knows amber and taeyeon are in danger. she's well aware how kai is so dying to beat amber and is just waiting for a reason to do it. this could be the reason he's been waiting for.
unfortunately, her only option to get help is to make it to the finish line. for sure people are flocking there and taking pictures. her plan is to call for help right away when she gets there.
she's feeling dizzy now. she can hear her own deep breaths.
she felt hopeful when she saw a group of students hanging around the vending machine. assuming they stopped over for a drink, suzy went to them.
she was already near when she realised it's the gang of the girl she hated most--or used to hate.
"what are you doing here?" she heard one girl said. she thinks it's tiffany.
she didn't mind. she walked straight to a specific girl, not caring if she'll get in trouble later. even though she hated this woman, she knows that this is the best help she could get now. this is the only person who could stop that beast from doing something dangerous.
she held the girl on the shoulders and tried to make out the words even in her short breath.
"kai... amber... alley..."