”So, what do you need help with?”
Jiwon instantly regretted her past request the moment the words had left , and the looming remorse only increased when they were both facing each other in the decaying gym of the hotel that same night with their Taekwondo uniforms on.
No matter how much she despised the idea of admitting the fact that she was literally taking steps backwards in the sport, this had been Jiwon’s idea after all, and so the girl opted for huffing grumpily.
”Just yesterday, before you stormed in my room, I was failing the roundhouse kick.”
Sehun’s eyes narrowed in confusion, and he leaned in her direction. ”The roundhouse kick? But that’s one of the most basic—”
”I know, okay?! You don’t have to remind me. And it’s not like I’ve always had this problem, I’ve managed just fine before, but these days it just...Doesn’t come to me.”
He nodded nonchalantly, and shrugged. ”Which happens sometimes, no need to be so dramatic about it. Alright, try to do it.”
Overwhelmed with a sudden wave of self-consciousness, Jiwon swallowed. ”What- now? In front of you?”
”No, tomorrow.” He rolled his eyes. ”Yes now.”
Easy to say, the atmosphere surrounding the pair was nothing short of awkward. With Sehun extending his left hand, holding the flat of it towards her while he cocked an expectant eyebrow, made her feel suddenly ashamed of her incapability.
Nonetheless, she closed her fists and gained a fighting stance, eyes focused on the target, that now seemed to be the palm of Sehun’s hand.
Jiwon leaned backwards, raising her knee as her back foot spun around at an attempt of pivoting. And it was there - in that balance, in which she failed. As a result, her balance was thrown off and the girl stumbled backwards.
He remained still on his spot, unamused. ”You didn’t even try.”
”I did try, .”
”You didn’t kick, you just stood there with your knee up.”
”That’s because my balance was off, I would’ve fallen to the ground if I’d done the actual kick.”
”Well, what’s a fall going to hurt? You have to try to know if you can do it or not.”
”I said that I tried!”
”Okay, okay, whatever. Tell me this instead, balance is your problem?” Sehun finally asked, pacing around.
Jiwon shrugged awkwardly, clearing . ”I..guess.”
”And you said it’s never been a problem before?”
”Then the problem is not balance.” He finally deduced.
”...Right. I’m not following.”
”You’re the problem.”
Jiwon let out a dry laugh. ”Thanks.”
Sehun rolled his eyes. ”You don’t understand. First of all, you were way too slow, why don’t you try doing the entire sequence faster? Have a bit of confidence.”
There it went again. Reading her like an open book, like he already knew everything about her. Confidence. Who was he to assume she wasn’t confident? Now this happened to be the case, but that still didn’t give him the right to just assume it.
”I am confident!” She countered.
”Okay then, so do the kick again, but faster.”
”Okay, I’ll do the kick.”
Sensing the returning awkwardness brewing in the air, Jiwon readied her stance and sharply bent backwards and raised her knee. The motion had been so fast, that her back foot had spun around on its own. A flare of victory went alight in her chest and her eyes lit up at the prospect, but as soon as her foot hit Sehun’s hand, her pivot swayed and she didn’t lower her knee in time to gain balance. Jiwon mentally braced for impact as her body dived head first onto the floor.
She landed -first on the ground, feeling a mix of irritation and shame sting at her heart. Sehun extended his hand in her direction, offering help to raise her up to her feet again. Jiwon only glared at the gesture, and got up by herself.
”Whatever. This is a waste of time.” She grumbled.
”Hey, you were the one who came to me for help.” He said, pointing an accusatory finger in her direction.
”Never said I wasn’t. And don’t point your finger on me like that.” She slapped his hand away. Sehun looked offended by her gesture, and slapped her hand in response.
”What the- hey!” She complained, hitting his hand. And then he hit hers, and vice versa until they had broken out in a cat-like fight with their hands. Jiwon ignored the fact that they probably looked like children, and stopped only when there was a sound of voices approaching their direction.
Sehun opened his mouth to speak, but she beat her to it.
Jiwon frowned, concentrating on the growing sound. ”I recognise that voice.” She whispered, almost to herself.
Her suspicion was confirmed when Somin’s figure came into view through the open gates of the gym. She was wearing a skintight dress and makeup, followed by the man she recognised as Matthew.
Sehun and Jiwon remained glued to their spots when the other pair stopped abruptly in the middle of their conversation, noticing their presence.
Somin’s eyes lit up in recognition and she pointed an excited finger in her direction. ”Hey, Jiwon!”
She waved back awkwardly, though the girl did not seem to sense her obvious state of discomfort at all. Matthew, who was standing beside her in a denim jacket with jeans of the same color, threw a peace sign and smiled.
Jiwon ignored Sehun’s burning, befuddled stare on her and replied to the other male.
”Just, uh, training. What are you guys doing here?”
Somin grimaced. ”Training? Why are you guys training at this hour?”
”It was her idea, I am as clueless as you are.” This time Sehun decided to in, lineaments creasing in a taunting smirk.
Jiwon suppressed a scoff. Instead, she played along. ”I’ve never spoken to this man in my life. We just casually met while both training here.”
”We’re in the same dojang.” He clarified. ”And we most definitely have talked before.”
”Well,” Matthew started, nodding slowly. ”There’s this get-together at the nearest beach and we were just going there. There’s no one left here by now, do you guys want to tag along with us? Not to be rude or anything, but there’s plenty of time for training when it’s not night.”
Jiwon flared her hands with a sheepish smile. ”I’m actually fine—”
”Sure! We’ll go.” Sehun cut her off. She shot him a glare in response.
”No, we’re not. I don’t even have nice clothes with me—”
”That’s not a problem.” Somin smiled. ”I have something that could fit you.”
Jiwon bit back an exasperated sigh. But she didn’t want to go. It was getting late, and what she really was to forget of Sehun’s existence, and the fact that this had all been an idea of her own. Obviously this wasn’t a plausible option, that’s why she was stuck between gut-wrenching awkwardness with a walking irritation, or a beach party she didn’t want anything to do with.
And when she lifted her gaze to meet Sehun’s challenging one, she understood what it was all about.
”I just don’t want the best years and possible moments of my life to drain away.” He had said.
”I’m not wasting my life!” Had been her response.
He was challenging her.
Making sure her eyes were locked with his, Jiwon spoke. ”You know what? Training is going nowhere anyways.”
Grains of sands crunched under the weight of Jiwon’s boots as they sunk heavily into the bank. The beach was crowded with scattered Taekwondo students; some chugging drinks like it was a lifeline, some were by the sidelines dancing and others were sitting on the sand doing more….private actions. The air smelled of alcohol and smoke - not the best combination certainly, but the soft breeze and comforting warmth of the bonfire radiating over her was oddly soothing.
Jiwon held the cheap bottle of corazón tequila in her hands, eyeing it warily as smells like teen spirit roared in her ears. It seemed whoever had been picked as the DJ, was on a eighties-through-nineties rampage. Not that she minded, of course. The tequila had been Somin and Matthew’s idea, who decided shortly before heading to the beach to stop by a secluded grocery store and buy alcohol that looked too cheap to be anything near drinkable.
What Jiwon did mind, though, was the smirk Sehun had plastered on his stupidly plump lips. The small glint in his eyes made it seem like he was constantly planning something, and it did not sit right at all.
She took a sip of the drink, wincing in disgust before turning to the latter. ”Is that like your default expression or something? Go to your friends or whatever.”
He looked unaffected by her words. ”Aren’t you going to mix that tequila with tonic water? It’s just going to burn in your stomach if you keep drinking it like that.”
Jiwon raised her eyebrows, and lifted the bottle once again to her lips, this time taking a bigger sip. He was right, and it did burn, but she wasn’t about to let him know that.
Sehun merely shrugged, shaking the red solo cup he was holding in his left hand, making the liquid in it spin mesmerizingly. ”Do what you want. I won’t be the one who gets faced later.”
She responded by childishly sticking out her tongue in his direction, mimicking his words in a mocking way.
The male was about to retort, though whatever remark he had in store for her was cut off by a couple of voices behind them.
”Sehun, hey man, We’ve been looking all night for you. Can we talk for a moment?” The smirk faded instantly, and was instead replaced by a crestfallen gaze. He turned quickly in her direction as a way of acknowledgement, and proceeded to stalk in the direction of where his friends had called him.
Jiwon expected to be relieved now that he was gone, but none of those emotions came. It was strange, but something in his look told her that everything wasn’t as it should be. Maybe the reason he had so willingly chosen to be with her that evening was because he, maybe, didn’t really want to encounter his friends.
She shot down the pooling concern as soon as it came, down in the pits of hell where they belonged, and made her way towards Somin and Matthew, who were both situated on the sand a couple of meters ahead of her.
”And I know that it’s dumb to think that way, also because I never confront them