"since when did you start caring about me?" asked krystal, her eyes fixed at you.
you gaped in her direction, feeling like a cold water was poured over you. your heart started pounding crazily, so hard you were worried krystal would notice it from your chest. it's supposed to be cold inside the café but you felt sweat starting coming off your forehead.
damn. how should you answer that question? does she already know?
"w-what do you mean?" you asked her instead, trying to stall.
"i'm just wondering," she said, breaking the stare. she went to fiddle with her necklace. "that night at the school party, why didn't you just leave me there?"
it was hard to answer. you were hesitant. "i... uh... i was worried that someone might take advantage of the situation. you're too baked to resist anyone."
she nods. "you... were worried about me...?"
"y-yeah," you said, scratching your eyebrow. "umm. it's not wrong to care for a classmate, right?"
she stares at you with a serious face before nodding again. "yeah..."
"s-should i have just left you instead?"
"no. i'm actually thankful that you did it," she said right away. "it's just that i never thought you somehow... cared for me..."
you blinked at her, unsure of what she meant by that.
"it's just that i always had the feeling you hated me..." she admitted.
you furrowed your brows. "where did you get that?"
"from you?" she said, feigning a smile. "it just seemed to me you never liked me. you never looked my way. you don't talk to me. you don't even smile at me. you never treated me the way you've treated most of our classmates."
you opened your mouth to let her know how wrong she was, but no words came out. you're guilty, yes, but not because you hated her but because you are so damn nervous around her. knowing she won't like you back, you were afraid to do anything that will give her a hint of how you truly feel for her.
but what is she saying now? does that mean that she's noticing you too?
"i woke up that day in your room panicking at the thought i slept with someone the night before," she said. "i panicked more when i realised it was you. my brain was like shouting, 'great, now you've done something that will make her hate you more'."
you stared at her, feeling a wave of guilt building up inside you.
how can you hate her if she's being like this? you've tried to forget her lately by pouring all your attention to suzy but with just a single moment like this all your efforts became futile and you go back to square one.
to hell with those suzber shippers. you don't care anymore. you want krystal. just her only.
"i wouldn't blame you tho," she said, breaking your thoughts. "students your calibre rarely want to be around students like me."
"no. you got it wrong," you said, almost in a hurry to explain yourself. "i'm sorry. i'm not just as social as everyone. but i never hated you. i don't hate you at all."
her face brightens. "are you sure?"
you nodded. "why would i hate you? i don't see any reason for that."
she planted her elbows on the table and rested her chin on her palms. "even though we're ganging up on your girlfriend?"
you shook your head no. "and suzy is not my girlfriend."
she looked surprised. "but yesterday you--"
"i just did that for tiffany to stop bullying her. maybe it worked because no pringles came, right?"
"yeah. it worked, i guess." krystal played with her earrings. "and, umm, i'd like to apologise for what happened yesterday. i know we've gone overboard."
see? this is what you've been thinking about. krystal isn't as bad as what others see her.
"you should apologise to suzy, not to me. you guys never treated me badly," you said, giving her an assuring smile. "may i ask why you guys do that to her?"
krystal gazed into your face for a few seconds before looking away. "let's just say that some of my friends are overly jealous of your closeness with suzy."
you knitted your brows. "j-jealous?"
"i know that doesn't justify our actions. don't worry. i'll apologise to suzy after the current issue is resolved."
your heart just keeps fluttering seeing this side of krystal. you were right all along. she is kind after all unlike some of her friends.
that made you remember something. "if i may ask, do you still trust them after what they've done to you last time?"
krystal traced her fingers on the table. "well, it's kind of complicated to explain right now. but to sum it up, i can't just leave tiffany behind. she's like a sister to me. we grew up together. i know it may seem like she's badass right now but she's just naïve and easily gets influenced by jimin and her friends. she seemed to have liked jimin, a reason why we started hanging out with them more. after that, we got acquainted with jinhwan, jimin's boyfriend, kai, and the others."
you felt a pinch in your heart when she mentioned her boyfriend's name. "but they spiked your drink, are you all right with that?"
"well, it's partially my fault," she said, rubbing her fingers on her neck out of habit. "they could have thought i was ready to do it because i joked about it one time during one of our drinking sessions."
a creased formed on your forehead. so, that was all for fun?
"hey, don't look at me like that," she said, noticing the grimace on your face. "that's why i'm thankful you saved me. but that's the reason i can't leave tiffany with them because she'll surely be doomed."
"oh." you nodded, feeling glad to know the reason behind her actions. "did they ask how you suddenly disappear that night?"
"they did. i made up stories. but i didn't include you in the picture. like i said, i'd like to keep you out of trouble."
"but you'll keep getting in trouble if you're with them. like this morning..."
krystal said nothing after that. silence settled in. maybe you should stop asking questions. you don't want her to feel you're prying too much.
"amber," she called. "would you believe me if i told you i'm innocent even though i was caught with them?"
you stared into her eyes trying to sense if there's a hint of lie with what she said. it may sound odd but your heart tells you to believe her.
"if you say you're innocent, then i'll take your word for that," you said.
"what if all the people told you a different story, will you still believe me?" she followed up.
you're not sure where she's going with this but you know you she's looking for assurance and that's what you'll give her.
"if you're sure you're telling the truth, then i'm gonna believe you no matter what they say."
she looked relieved. "could you promise me that?"
you can feel krystal wants to tell you something but is hesitant. you put your right hand on your chest. "i promise."
she looked immensely relieved.
"but did you really do it with them?" you asked, feeling a little more comfortable now.
"i was there for a reason, but i swear i wasn't doing it with them."
it's your turn to feel relieved. "okay. i believe you then."
"thanks." krystal gave a sweet smile. "isn't it funny how we got to talk just now even after we've been classmates for two years already?"
"yeah, i know," you admitted. you still can't look straight into her eyes that long though. "to be honest, i also thought you hated me. i was too hesitant to approach you."
"yeah. weird, right?"
"indeed. so does that mean we're friends now?" she asked.
"yeah. friends." you're trying your best to hold off a huge grin from coming out.
krystal's eyes twitched when she looked at the person behind you.
"what is she doing here?" asked the familiar voice.
you turned around and panicked when you saw suzy standing, looking down at you with an unhappy face.
"suzy, why are you here?" you asked.
it's not that you don't want them to meet but you know it's not the right time for them to talk to each other yet. suzy never liked krystal and her gang. she despises them. and seeing you, one of her closest friends, having a cake chat with one of her enemies is chaos.
"i was hoping we could go home together," said suzy flatly. "i couldn't find you anywhere so i thought i'd see you here." she eyed krystal for a second and went back to you. "what is she doing here?"
"she wants to borrow my notes for the classes she missed today," you explained, looking back and forth suzy and krystal.
"really?" suzy shook her head and smiled sarcastically. "of all the people, why you, amber? she could borrow notes from the others. she has luna and yerim."
"well, we saw each other in the principal's office and had a little talk here."
"ahh. so that's her way of befriending you now? do you think you can be friends with her or with any of them after what they've done to me?"
"and you," said suzy, shifting her eyes to krystal. "is this part of your plan, to befriend amber and take her away from me?"
"suzy, you're overreacting," you said, feeling the tension rising.
suzy didn't listen to you. "i'm sorry to burst your bubble but amber isn't fitted to be your friend. you'll just put her in trouble."
you stood from your chair. "suzy, stop it, okay?"
that didn't stop suzy from firing again. "and please tell tiffany, or the others, that amber wouldn't want to date people like you!"
krystal rose from her seat too and glared at suzy. you clenched your fist hoping she'd not fight back. she took a deep breath and fixed her bag on her shoulder.
"i'm sorry, amber, but i need to go now."
you held her shoulders to stop her. "no. please don't go yet. let me handle this."
krystal met your eyes and she nodded. relieved, you turned to suzy, hiding krystal behind you.
"it's not like what you're thinking," you told suzy. "we were talking because she wants to apologise to you too for what happened yesterday."
"apologise?" suzy sneered. "do you believe that crap, amber? she's just fooling you. they are worthless liars. you should know that yourself."
krystal's hand clutched the hem of your shirt. you know she's pissed and you're thankful she's trying her best not to fight back.
"suzy, please, if you could just listen to me..."
"tss... gosh, amber. see? now you're defending her."
"i just want you to calm down and listen to us. like i said she wants to apologise to you."
suzy scorned and shook her head again. "i can't believe you've fallen for that. let me guess, she told you she's not part of the news flash this morning, right?"
that caught you off-guard. how did she know that krystal will tell you that? had krystal done this before?
"see?" suzy jeered after seeing your expression. "i knew it. she's lying to you so she could get your sympathy."
"well, look who's talking," said krystal in her very calm voice, her hand letting go of your shirt. her expression has changed now from the sweet krystal earlier to a tigress. "isn't it funny how you keep saying i'm a liar when in fact you're a big liar yourself?"
"and what did i lie about, huh?" asked suzy confidently.
"for your information, amber, someone has been telling the entire school that you and she are officially dating." krystal looped her arm through yours. "and if i remember it correctly you just told me earlier that suzy isn't your girlfriend, right?"
you looked at suzy to confirm but she avoided your eyes.
"so, who's lying now?" asked krystal.
suzy hung her head low, still avoiding your eyes. "i can explain about that, amber. but i prefer talking about it in private."
you were simply dumbfounded. so it's true? she didn't deny it.
suzy fixed her bag. "i'm sorry for interrupting your little talk just now. i should go. i'll talk to you tomorrow, amber."
you couldn't say anything as you watch suzy strode towards the exit.
"i'm sorry," krystal whispered.
you turned to krystal. "it's not your fault. i should have brought you to a different place. suzy knows i always go here."
of all the reaction you could get from her, krystal chuckled.
"what?" you asked her.
"i just find it weird," she said, smirking. "instead of you blaming this on me because i was bullying your friend, you were apologising because you took me to a place where she could catch us?"
you scratched the back of your head. "i know you guys aren't really in good terms yet so i kinda want to stay out of trouble for now."
krystal looked away, still smiling. "it's just funny to think about it. it's like you're the cheating husband where suzy is your wife and i'm your mistress."
you felt an electric shock running through your entire body.
did she just imagine herself being your mistress? oh, jeez. just imagining it makes you want to scream in joy.
krystal's phone rang. "mom? yes, i'm here in a café near the school... name's hamster café... it's just around four or five blocks from there... okay, i'll go out now." she put her phone back into her bag. "amber, my mom is already in the area. i need to go."
"sure. you take care."
"so, um, thanks for the treat..." she glances over the table. "and thanks for believing in me."
you felt a warm feeling building up in your chest. "anytime. i'm glad we got to talk today even though things went... went a little rough in the end..."
krystal smiled. "yeah. let's just edit out the last part, okay?"
krystal's eyes landed on the car outside the café. "there's my ride. i'll go ahead."
"i'll see you tomorrow."
krystal looked like she wanted to do something but she hesitated. in the end, she leaned forward, tiptoeing a bit to cheek kiss you.
you were expecting it'll be a cheek to cheek contact but you kinda felt her lips on your cheek instead.
"bye," she said shortly before leaving. you watched the car drove away.
you always see her do that to her friends so it's not proper to give any meaning to it, right?
but hell yeah, you can't stop blushing!
you were still spacing out when a hand landed on your shoulder.
"if you want to date them both, i suggest you bring them to another place where the other one doesn't know. ya hear me?" said yuri.
you grunted, pinching the bridge of your nose.
"you're in trouble, amber... you're in trouble..." yuri waved her index finger at you.
you shook your head as you stared at krystal's empty plate.
what a day.