I was always the second-best.
The second choice when the actual best was not around.
The brilliant person who was not brilliant enough to be at the top.
This notion had been engraved into me growing up.
Even though I tried to work harder than anyone else, I would still never see the view from the top.
Simply because the thick wall standing right in front of me was something impenetrable — impossible to overcome.
So, I was left with no other choice but admit it to myself that I, Jimin Yoo, would never be the best.
“You ready for the quiz bee later, Yooji?” my best friend—Aeri asked while turning the pages of the book that she was currently reading.
We were currently in one of the gazebos scattered about the school grounds, whiling the time away before our next subject.
“I am so not looking forward to it.” I rolled my eyes, sighing as I rested my chin upon my right palm. “She will be participating as well, you know?”
“That’s a no-brainer.” Aeri shrugged. “She is our school’s prized possession, after all. The ace.”
“You don’t have to remind me. I am very well aware and I hate her so much for that. She does not even study, but she somehow always excels everything. That girl is an anomaly, I am telling you,” I spat out in pure disdain.
“Why do you hate her so much?” Aeri gave me a curious look. “It is not like she has done something unforgivable to you.”
“I just do. A reason is not necessary. I hate her whole existence, that’s all.“
That was a lie.
I wouldn’t admit it to anybody else, but it was solely because she was the person who made me realize that I was only ordinary.
That I was nothing special, that I was only there to take on the role of being beneath her.
That in spite of my countless efforts, it would not amount to anything.
The actual best, the one who was always at the top—Minjeong Kim, the person who was unjustly favored by the universe.
People may found me petty for hating on her for a reason she was not in control of, but I couldn’t care less.
I hate the girl with all that I had and it would stay that way even if the world caved in.
“I heard Ryujin will be there too.” At the mention of the name, my face brightened up. “She will be cheering Minjeong on.”
Oh. Right. They were sisters.
I often forget since the two were so different from each other.
Ryujin was a sweetheart.
She was always helping people in need of academic advice and she had the student body fawning over her because of how kind she was.
She was dedicated and righteous.
I was not blind to the girl’s reputation, as I had been crushing on her all my life.
Minjeong however, was the complete opposite.
She was the spawn of the devil.
She was a cunning individual who would do anything to get what she wanted even if that meant she would be trampling on other people’s feelings in the process.
Her methods were always the end justifies the means.
“If she will be there, then forget what I said earlier. I am so looking forward to it now.” My grin was wide, eyes were sparkling. Forget Minjeong, the love of my life would be watching and that was enough to put me in high spirits.
Aeri could only shake her head at my statement.
“You are so hopeless.”
The time for the quiz bee came sooner much to my delight. I was excused for the rest of the day and since Aeri still had to attend her classes, I went to the school’s auditorium alone. Not that I was complaining, but seeing a familiar face among the audience was always pleasing. Now, I had to do this without anyone supporting me.
I pursed my lips as I scanned the crowd for a certain blonde-haired angel and I wasn’t disappointed when I spotted her at the top corner, occupied with something on her phone.
She looked so attractive, oh my god.
This was my chance to impress her.
Nevermind that she was here to give support to her sister.
There were five contestants in total including myself. All of them were familiar faces since we were the same people who were always competing with one another.
I could not be bothered.
I knew I was miles better than them and thus, there was no need to worry.
The person I should be wary about on the other hand, was seated in front of me, looking so bored out of her mind and unimpressed as if she wasn’t about to participate in a regional competition.
The quiz was over in an instant.
It was pretty easy for most of the questions were something I had already studied in advance, but as if the universe really had a problem with me being on top, I had gotten the last question wrong resulting in me placing second again.
“Congratulations Miss Kim for acing the Math Quiz Bee for two consecutive years!” the president of our school said enthusiastically while handing the arrogant motherer her gold trophy in which she lazily accepted while yawning. “You are really the pride of Seoul High.”
I was no longer in the mood.
All of the times I had to up, it just had to be when Ryujin was watching.
Impress her, my .
There was no way I’d be able to do that as long as the devil incarnate was also in the competition.
Once again, I was reminded that I’d always be the second-best.
A bitter smile graced my lips as I threw a glare in the girl’s direction, hoping it had enough power to disintegrate her, anything that would make her disappear from my sight.
God, I hate her so much.
After I was done receiving my silver trophy, I was getting myself ready to leave, but then, I heard a familiar voice calling for me.
Turning around, the face of my angel came into view. A small smile on her face while she was walking in my direction.
I felt myself turning into an ice sculpture upon realizing what was just transpiring.
Oh my god, she was coming to me!
“Hi, Ryujin—” My words were cut off when someone slipped before me, completely blocking my line of vision. “What the hell, Minjeong?”
Even if I couldn’t see her face, I knew it was her.
Minjeong’s scent, her presence, her aura, I knew her very well.
“Congratulations, Jimin,” said Minjeong, causing me to crane my neck upward to look at her face to see her smiling softly. “You did great.”
“I don’t need your praise.” I glared as I crossed my arms over my chest. “If only you weren’t here, I would be placed first. You are such a pest.”
Minjeong appeared unbothered by my insult as she only shrugged her shoulders in a dismissive manner.
“It wasn’t my fault I was born intelligent.” The look on her face was smug which infuriated me even more.
“I hate you so much.” Then I ran a hand over my face aggressively. “I hope you disappear into nothingness and never come back.”
A triumphant smile adorned my face when she suddenly sported a serious expression.
That made me feel better.
At least, I was able to get a reaction from her other than arrogance.
“Why do you hate me?”
“Isn’t that obvious by now?”
“What, do you want me to throw away all the future competitions that we will be both participating in for you to stop hating me?”
I gave her an incredulous look.
“You are unbelievable. Do you think that would make me feel better?”
“Then what do you want me to do?” She raised an eyebrow. “Tell me and I will do it in a heartbeat.”
“You are so ing annoying.” An exasperated sigh escaped my lips. “Why do you even care? Why does it even matter to you?”
I was getting frustrated by the second.
I do not understand why she was acting like this when we were not even close.
The only interactions we have had were when I was cursing her for always beating me.
“Because I am in love with you.”
The unexpected confession froze me on my spot.
My face morphing from a look of disbelief to a look of utter disgust.
Did I hear her right?
Or were my ears playing with me?
The Minjeong who did not care about anyone else was in love with me?
“Are you serious?” I let out an amused laugh. “No, there is no way you are serious. And even if you are, that only means you are freaking boring. I am not fond of dating somebody who has feelings for me because there’s no challenge. No thrill at all.”
When she just stared at me with a blank look on her face as if she was trying to read my mind, I took it as a cue to leave.
I figured I was just going to waste my time dealing further with her, but before I could even take a step, Minjeong held my hand.
“Let go of me!”
“Mark my words, Yoo,” she whispered in my ears, her grip tightening. “You will come crawling back to me one day. I promise.”