Shuhua let out a booming laugh, running for her life as two monster’s ran after her, claws out and roars loud. “Please, spare my life! I want to live!”
“What do you think, Yoon? Should we spare her life? Or should we eat her?” Jeno and Yoon stopped in their tracks, cornering Shuhua to sit on the bottom of the slide.
“Eat her!” Yoon yelled, excitement all over her face, as she jumped on her feet.
Jeno roared, raising his hands in the air in the form of sharp claws, “let’s feast!” Yoon followed Jeno’s pose, both roaring as they approached Shuhua.
“No! Let me live!” Shuhua faked a cry for help, which turned into fits of giggles, as she felt tiny fingers and large ones tickle her sides simultaneously.
“Okay, okay, Jeno— let me breathe!” Shuhua wiggled around on the slide, trying to pry their hands off of her.
Yoon giggled, climbing on top of the slide to lay her body flat onto Shuhua, wrapping her arms around her neck. Shuhua was in awe, wrapping her arms around Yoon’s tiny body, and looking up to a grinning Jeno.
“Uncle Jeno wants love too!” Jeno swooped down to wrap his long arms around the two, holding his weight up on his feet, as the three embraced on the slide.
Yoon giggled, “uncle Jeno you’re heavy! We’re gonna squish Shu!”
Jeno got up, grabbing Yoon, and throwing her up in the air, before setting her safely onto her feet.
“Go play as much as you can before your sister picks you up!” Jeno ushered Yoon to go play with the other kids, and the little girl didn’t hesitate to join them.
Shuhua smiled, pulling Jeno to lay down with her on the slide, looking up at the sky. “You’re good with children.” Shuhua told Jeno, pulling on his arm to use as a pillow underneath her head.
Jeno chuckled, “you are too, Shu. I’m kind of surprised that you’re an only child. I would have thought you had younger siblings.”
“Nope. Just me.” Shuhua said.
Jeno hummed, “did you know I was in an orphanage just like this one back in Korea. I was adopted when I was two, so I don’t really have any memories of what it was like over there.”
Shuhua turned to look at Jeno, and he had bright eyes, and a slight smile on his face. “I don’t know who my real parents are, and I’ve never really felt the need to find them.”
Shuhua frowned, “really? You’re not even slightly curious about who they are?”
Jeno pursed his lips, before shaking his head. “Not really, but I think that’s a good thing, right? That I was blessed to have been adopted by a family that wants me. My family raised me with so much love to the point where I’m not even curious about my birth parents and why they chose to abandon me.”
“....maybe they had a good reason?” Shuhua tried to reason, always finding the good in people.
Jeno let out a bitter chuckle, “no, Shu. No parent would do that to their child if they really loved them.”
“Well, I guess that makes my parents evil, then. Choosing and making it known to their child that they don’t give a about me. They practically abandoned me.” Shuhua scoffed, snuggling into her friend.
Jeno hummed, “we’re not very lucky when it comes to our birth givers, huh?”
Shuhua let out a laugh, Jeno bursting into a fit too. “No, we’re really not, but you know what? I think we turned out alright.”
Jeno sat up, bending the arm that his friend used as a pillow to wrap around Shuhua’s shoulder to bring her up with him. “Yes, we did, Shu. And I’m glad I met you along the way, clumsy.” Jeno leaned his forehead against Shuhua’s temple, shaking his head adoringly.
“Me too. You’re actually the first genuine friend I’ve ever made in my whole lonely existence.” Shuhua stated.
Jeno leaned back, grinning, “well, what an honor that is for me then.”
Shuhua grimaced, pushing her friend’s face out of the way, before standing up, “don’t be gross about it, weirdo.”
“Not gross, Shu! I’m being sweet and sincere!” Jeno snickered, standing up and running after Shuhua who joined the children in their game of dodgeball.
Shuhua carried a handful of books in her arms, trying very hard to not drop them onto the floor before she got to her table. She’s been in the campus library for the past two hours, finding books as sources to use for her research project in one of her psychology classes.
“Kill me now.” Shuhua sighed, looking at the stack of books on her table.
“Having a hard time?”
Shuhua looked up, surprised at the sudden question from an unknown voice. She was met with a familiar face, smiling softly at her, arms holding her own borrowed books.
“Karina? Hey.” Shuhua returned the smile, not having expected to see her again.
“Mind if I sit with you?” Karina asked, and Shuhua didn’t hesitate to gesture for the latter to take a seat in front of her. “No, not at all, please sit.”
Karina grinned, eyes scanning the thick psychology textbooks and old looking books taking all the room on the other half of the table. “Research?” Karina questioned.
Shuhua nodded, “yeah, it’s torture.”
Karina chuckled, “I bet. I remember when I had to write my first college paper. It’s not fun.”
Shuhua hummed, “what do you study?”
“I study classical music and dance, actually. I’ve been doing ballet and playing the piano ever since I was a little girl.” Karina stated, and Shuhua gaped with admiration, “no way, that’s so cool! I didn’t know NYU had a classical music major.”
Karina chuckled, “they don’t. I’m not a student here, I actually attend Juilliard.”
Shuhua furrowed her eyebrows, tilting her head to the side, “then why are you here? This is NYU’s library.”
Karina tapped the books that were in front of her, “came to borrow these. And just my luck, I got to see your beautiful face again too.” Shuhua’s cheeks reddened at the cheeky grin the other girl was giving her.
“I would love to have coffee together sometime. If not coffee, maybe dinner?” Karina said, the small tilt of her lips never leaving, eyes gazing at Shuhua softly.
Shuhua smiled, “I would love that.”
“Yeah?” Karina’s smile grew.
Shuhua nodded, “of course! I’d love to get to know you and be friends.”
“Does that mean I can get your number then, beautiful?” Karina said flirtatiously and elegant. Shuhua chuckled, grabbing a sharpie out of the pencil bag, then reaching for Karina’s hand. Karina watched Shuhua write her digits down on her skin, a tiny smiley face and heart just below the numbers.
Karina turned her hand towards her to look at what Shuhua wrote, “you’re cute.” She giggled, seeing the adorable drawing.
“And you’re flirting.” Shuhua pointed out, a teasing smile on her lips.
Karina raised her eyebrows, biting her bottom lip, a grin threatening to form. “What am I supposed to do when I’m in the presence of someone so beautiful? Talk about the weather?”
Shuhua laughed, “I can get pretty passionate about the weather.”
“Well, maybe when we have our date, you can get passionate about it then.” Karina suggested.
“Date?” Shuhua questioned, an amused look on her face. Karina gave her a determined nod, “yeah, a date.”
Shuhua’s expression softened to a small smile, Karina returning the same expression. “Well, beautiful, I gotta get going. I’ll text you soon.” Shuhua watched as Karina got up, holding onto her books, and rounding the table right next to her side.
“Good luck on your research paper.” Karina bent down to whisper, placing a quick kiss onto Shuhua’s cheek, taking her by surprise. People in the city were just too bold, and Shuhua needed to get used to it.
Before Shuhua could say anything, Karina was already walking away towards the exit of the library, Shuhua’s eyes trailing after her.
“You know you don’t need to have your friends check up on me everyday while you’re in Boston.” Shuhua said, holding her phone in front of her to see Yuqi on the screen.
“My friends are your friends too, Shu. They love you.” Yuqi pointed out.
Shuhua hid her appreciative smile, “I know.”
“But seriously, it’s unnecessary. I’m an adult, Yuqi.” Shuhua whined, giving the grinning Yuqi a frown. “Adult? What is your definition of adult?” Yuqi teasingly questioned.
Shuhua groaned, “shut up.”
Yuqi let out a low laugh, “what have you been up to since I left? Bored out of your mind missing me?”
Shuhua pouted, “yes.” She said in a low voice, not wanting to admit it. Yuqi grinned, not having expected for Shuhua to actually agree, giving her cousin a fond look, “Aw, baby cousin! Biggie misses you too.” Shuhua’s look of disgust only prompted Yuqi to keep making kissing sounds on the screen.
“Stop, that’s disgusting.” Shuhua groaned.
Yuqi clicked her tongue, “stop calling my affection disgusting, you brat.”
Shuhua rolled her eyes, “anyway, how’s Boston?”
“Beautiful! We got to work and learn from a few professional photographers at the convention. It was a great experience.” Yuqi said, sounding excited. Shuhua watched her cousin walking, the scenery constantly changing behind Yuqi through the phone.
Shuhua wonders why Soojin wasn’t at the convention with Yuqi and the other photography students.
“That sounds fun.”
Yuqi smiled, “yeah. I’ll take you to Boston sometime, Shu. You’ll love it.”
Shuhua grinned, “I’ll hold you to that promise.”
“You bet.” Yuqi giggled, “hey, I gotta cut the call short. We’re about to have a team dinner.”
Shuhua hummed, “okay, have fun. Don’t choke or stab your tongue with your fork.”
Yuqi chuckled, “a simple bye would’ve been decent, Shu.”
Shuhua only smiled into the camera, “I’m not a simple girl, Yuqi.”
Yuqi scoffed, “yeah, you’re a pain in the .” Shuhua faked a laugh, a mocking expression on her face, as she rolled her eyes.
“Okay, bye, love you! Also, Lucas is on his way to pick you up and take you out with the gang tonight—,” Yuqi said rapidly, the screen up close towards her face, before the call ended.
“Wait wha— Song Yuqi!” Shuhua groaned, her screen returning to her Home Screen, a picture of Yuqi and herself when they were younger popping up into her vision.
Right on cue, Lucas burst through the door, wide smile, and arms wide open, “your favorite person is here.”
Shuhua jumped in surprise, body only relaxing after seeing her goofy friend enter her loft. “You should at least knock.”
Lucas shrugged, “I will, once you learn to remember to lock your doors. It’s not safe, little Shu.”
“Yeah, you can have fools like this one burst through your doors.” Chan appeared behind Lucas, slapping the taller guy upside the head softly.
Shuhua’s eyes lit up seeing Chan, immediately running towards him and latching on. “You’re back!” Shuhua cheered, scrunching her nose when Chan ruffled her hair, something most of them loved to annoy her with.
“Did you have fun in Australia? Do you have a pet Koala? If you do, can you take me there, so I can hug it? It’s on my bucket list.” Shuhua jumped on her toes, excitement all over her face.
“What was it that you were saying the other day, Shu? That you were a what? An Adult?” Lucas teased, putting on his best face, as if pretending to remember. Shuhua shot him a glare, “shut up. You told me the other day that you have “box a kangaroo” on your bucket list, so who’s the real child?”
Chan facepalmed himself, “this is quite offensive to us Australians, you brats. We don’t have pet Koalas, and no, , you can’t box a freaking kangaroo. I mean you can try, but you’ll get your kicked and probably end up in jail.”
Lucas squinted his eyes, shaking his head, “nah, I can take a kangaroo. They don’t have abs like mine.” He ran his hand down his stomach, a smug look on his face. Shuhua grimaced, walking away and leading them further inside her loft for them to settle in the living room.
“Why are you guys here? I mean, not that I don’t want you guys here…” Shuhua sheepishly said.
“I just got back, Shu! Of course I want to hang out!” Chan exclaimed, hugging one of the couch pillows.
Shuhua pouted, “okay, can we just lounge around and read books? That’s what I want to do.”
Lucas gave her a look, “no, nerd, that’s boring. Soojin has a dance showcase tonight, and we’re going to support her.”
Shuhua frowned, “she doesn’t even like me, and we’re not friends. Do I have to go?”
Lucas hummed, “well, maybe if you came she’ll see that you’re genuine and that can be the start of your friendship. Soojin is just a tough nut to crack at first, but in reality she’s really kind and soft-hearted.”
Shuhua shrugged and sighed, “I guess… I mean, I know I don’t have much of a choice because Yuqi put you two up to this.”
Chan chuckled, “exactly. The rest of the girls will meet us at the venue. We were in charge of picking you up.”
Shuhua made a pouty face, whining, “that s