30: You Try

Yooji: Love is War

               I woke up the following day feeling lighter —  gone was the anxiety that had been weighing on my chest for days, and was now surmounted by something akin to contentment.

               My heart was calmer as well; beating rhythmically in a normal pattern. My mind was empty — in the sense that it was no longer plagued with incessant awful thoughts.

               In other words; I feel so fantastic.

               It could be concluded that it was because it was finally the day of the music club’s performance. This had always put me in high spirits ever since, after all. However, I think the reason was entirely different this time around.

               ...most definitely.

               My morning routine was done with a  small smile ghosting over my lips, and spring in my step — which I wasn’t even aware of until one of our housekeepers pointed it out.

               Embarrassed, I muttered an excuse that it was because I was reminded of a certain comedic scene in a movie that I watched last night — which was a lie since I was up until around midnight talking over the phone with Aeri about her.

               I also asked our chef to teach me a thing or two about cooking since I plan to personally make myself and the other a bento for our lunch later — just a little something to show my affection.              

               Once inside the car, I instructed our driver to follow the address I scribbled on a piece of paper. He seemed curious since the place was out of the way; though, he didn’t ask anything and proceeded to drive away.

               Okay.

               I’m not sure if I was doing this right.

               I hope she wouldn’t find it weird.

               Upon arriving, I quickly fished out my phone and opened the messaging application.
 

Jimin:     Come out.
                   I’m in front of your gate.

              

               Not even a minute had passed when I saw the gate opening, and someone familiar coming out; eyebrows furrowed in apparent confusion.

               I took the opportunity to appreciate her appearance behind the tinted windows where I couldn’t be seen.

               She was wearing our school uniform like she normally does — folded sleeves all the way up to her elbows — the undone first two buttons of her undershirt causing her pale upper chest and her snowflake pendant to be visible — the blazer that hung loosely upon her shoulders. However, for some reason, she looked a lot more attractive than she already was in my eyes.

               Damn.

               I drew in a deep breath.

               Here it goes.

               I rolled the window down; then beckoned her over which she did even though confusion was still plastered on her face.              
        
               “Karina...” she mumbled once she was closer. “What are you doing here?”

               “Good morning to you too, Winter,” I said in a cheery tone. “Picking you up, of course.”

               She raised a brow, clearly amused.

               “Oh, really?”

               Ugh.

               I knew this would happen.

               “Get in, Win.”

               She let out a deep chuckle before walking around to the driver’s window. “I’ll drive us from here, Sir.” Then, she handed him a few paper bills. “You may hail a cab by the entrance of the village.”

               What she had just done didn’t immediately register with me.

               I merely stared at her, dumbstruck.

               “Understood, Ma’am.”

               Before I could even utter a single word, Winter had already made herself comfortable on the driver’s seat.

               Jesus...

               She really just ordered our driver to go home on his own.

               Haa, that was just so her, alright.

               “Explain yourself, Karina,” she piped up, breaking me off my bubble.

               “Huh? Explain what?”

               “Why did you pick me up?” She gave me a look. “I thought you need time?”

               Oops.

               Right.

               I failed to make myself clear because I literally bolted out of the rooftop when embarrassment caught up with me after our confrontation.

               She must’ve been so confused.

               “Uh-huh, that’s correct indeed; time to make it up to you, that is.”

               Aeri had to endure hours of my unending rant about how shamelessly bold I behaved during our talk and how I was kind of regretting saying the majority of what I said; especially the part that... ugh, I don’t even want to remember. What matters was that we are okay now.

               She blinked, puzzled. “Make it up to me?”

               I nodded. “Of course, Winter. It is only right that I do that first before we- y-you know- like... that.”

               Oh, god.

               What am I so embarrassed for?

               “We what?” She smirked. “I don’t understand. Enlighten me, Karina.”

               I rolled my eyes, looking away in an attempt to hide the blush that I knew was beginning to adorn my face. “Have I already mentioned that you are so insufferable?”

               There was an amused cackle.

               Oh.

               How I’ve missed hearing that melodic sound.

               “You have,” she replied, cynically. “This is the third time, actually.”

               “Great. I have been consistent in reminding you as I should.”

               I bit back a smile.

               This dynamic of us...

               I couldn’t believe there’d come a day when I would miss having banter with her.

               I missed this.

               I missed us.

               When a minute had passed and she still wasn’t saying anything, I looked over my shoulder to check on her; only to see her gazing at me ever so intensely.

               I gulped, growing conscious all of a sudden.

               I knew that look.

               “Could you come closer?”

               And that voice.

               “Why..?”

               I was feeling nervous for some reason.

               “Baby...” she whispered, breathily. “Come closer. I need to feel you.”

               The gentle pleading in her voice snapped the last nerve of my self-control.

                No way I would allow myself to deny her of her needs — or our needs because the universe knew how much I wanted to feel her too.

               Without a word, I scooched over — almost hitting the emergency break in the process, and Winter immediately buried her face into the crook of my neck, arms wrapped securely around my waist.

               “I missed you,” she murmured, her voice muffled. “God, you have no idea...”

               I raised my left arm, snaking it around her nape while the other settled on caressing her hair soothingly.

               “I thought everything that transpired the day before wasn’t real; that I was just suffering from hallucination.” She nuzzled my neck. “But you’re here. You came back to me...”

               My heart was racing and something new fluttered through me, warmth that pooled at the base of my belly.

               “I-I was the one who pushed you away,” I muttered meekly, ignoring the way her lips grazed my skin. “It was on me to pull you back.”

               With a throaty chuckle, and a deep breath of crisp, clear air, she lifted her head. “Did parading myself with those girls latched onto me in front of you do the work?”

               Instead of feeling annoyed as the sight of her arm around someone else’s popped into my mind, I found myself sighing while retracting my arms. “Can you promise me one thing?”

               She stared at me, seemingly trying to figure out what was going on in my head.

               “...what is it?”

               “You would apologize to those girls you used for your own benefit.”

               “What? No way.” She leaned back in her seat, face showing her immense disapproval of the idea. “They were the ones who came up to me and begged me down on their bended knees to give them a chance. I am quite sure you know the reason why they were more than willing to give themselves to me,” she explained in a manner that lacked interest. “Of course, I would never allow myself to be a tool for their lame drama and not turn it to my advantage. Therefore, I made them as pawns in my game.”

               Okay, maybe what she did was excusable in some way.

               Those girls only view her as some kind of a badge of honor they could go and boast around to make themselves feel superior, anyway.

               Though, Winter being cunning was still a matter that should be addressed later on.

               “Fine,” I surrendered. “However, you need to apologize to Lia Choi. Her feelings were genuine.”

               She swiped her tongue across her bottom lip, looking conflicted for a while before slowly nodding her head.

               “I’ve been planning to, frankly,” she said lowly. “I just haven’t found the right opportunity to do it.”

              Oh?

               So, she was capable of owning up to her wrongdoings.

               “Good.” I grinned, satisfied. “Now, get this car moving.”

               “Before that...” She inclined forward, whispering huskily, “Can I kiss you?”

               The bluntness caught me off guard.

               Warmth crawled up my neck, developing into a burning flame the longer I was under her expectant eyes.

               “W-What?”

               We have already kissed a couple of times before, but the thought of kissing her again right here and right now was making me nervous.

               “I’m kidding.”

               I gaped at her, searching her face.

               It was obvious she was not kidding.

               Did she assume I wasn’t going to allow her?

               “Win..”

               She revved up the engine and began to drive off.

               “Yeah?”

               I felt my throat drying up for what I was about to say. “I missed you too...” I looked away when I saw her grip on the steering wheel tighten. “And you can k-kiss me — not now though.”

               I heard her take a deep breath.

               “Damn...” She stepped on the break when we reached a red light at an intersection. “Do you want me to crash this car or something?”

               “Huh?”

               “How can you expect me to drive properly after what you’ve said?”

               Ah...

               That was probably her way of saying that my words were affecting her.

               “Well, you won’t be getting that kiss if you mess up and send us both to the hospital or oblivion.”

               “Is that a challenge?” Her smile was sardonic, dark eyes held a glint of mirth.

               I shrugged in feigned indifference.

               “Maybe.”

               “Prepare yourself then.” She moved the gear when the light turned green. “Because I will not hold back.”






 

               We parted ways once we got to school — Winter headed to the office of the student council to carry out her duties, while I made for the music club in case there would be an important announcement.

               Everybody was occupied with their own matters when I stepped inside the room; no one even bothered to look up and greet me like they normally would except for two people who seemed to have been waiting for me.

               “Hey, cupcake.”

               “Hello, Jimin!”

               They greeted simultaneously while walking in my direction, my attention focusing on the one bearing those foxy eyes.

               Huh, interesting...

               I haven’t seen Yeji for only two days, but it was palpable that something about her was different — her face appeared to be brighter than normal —  the way she carried herself as if she had finally broken free from the shackles that had been weighing her down — the unusual genuine smile...

               ...She looked happier.

               It was such a sight to see.

               “Hey, guys.” My lips curved into a wide smile. “It’s nearly time for the show, huh?”

               “I’m so excited!” Chaeryeong squeaked. “And a little nervous.”

               “It’ll just be the same,” Yeji remarked; though her eyes betrayed her apparent disinterest. “But I’m looking forward to it... a bit more than the previous years.”

               Aha.

               That confirmed it.

               Something good had happened to her recently.

               I narrowed my eyes at her.

              “Oh? That’s new.”

               She shrugged nonchalantly, evading my inquisitive stare.

               “Yeah, well, things happened.”

               I figured as much.

               “I wish I could understand what you guys are talking about,” Chaeryeong chimed in, pouting adorably. “It sounds interesting.”

               We both let out a laugh.

               Really, she was such a baby.

               “It’s nothing important, Chae.” I patted her head gently. “Nothing to worry yourself about.”

               “What she said.” Then Yeji wore a sly grin. “But if you are so curious, then you would have to prepare yourself. It’s rated 18, mind you.”

               Chaeryeong’s face reddened and shook her head furiously. “I-It’s fine! I’m not curious, at all!”

               Yeji threw an arm around her shoulder, bringing her close. “That’s right. You are still a child.”

               “Ugh, get off!”

               Aw.

               They were getting along well, apparently.

               It was funny because Chaeryeong was just our age, and definitely not a child; it’s just the way she behaves that anyone could easily mistake her for one.

               “Your attention, please.”

               Everyone in the room ceased what they were doing to look in the front where Prez Chaewon stood short tall.

               Here comes her speech.

               It was quiet for a while as if she looked as if she was trying to gather her thoughts; closing her eyes while heaving deep breaths every five seconds.

               The members could only watch the rare sight of our normally confident president being all nervous in amusement.

               “Today’s the big day,” she finally spoke, smiling broadly as she looked at each of our faces. “This is the third years’ last time to perform in front of Seoul High’s student body. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Giving it your all would be more than enough.”

               Right.

               No one among us was striving for perfection.

               No pressure.

               The majority of us only wanted to escape the reality; the harsh industry that we chose to be part of, and have fun.

               “I’ve seen how you guys worked so hard, and all of it will be paid off once we hear the enthusiastic cheers of the students.”

               That, anyone could agree on.

               It was the best feeling in the world to see your audience have a great time watching you perform.

               “You are free to do whatever you want during the remaining time until our performance,” Prez followed up, earning cheers from everyone. “You can practice here, but I suggest that you enjoy the festival.”

               “Understood, Prez!”

               Afterward, some of the members began to leave the room to follow Prez’s suggestion, while the others remained in their spots to continue practicing.

               “I need to be in the dance club now,” Chaeryeong said while gathering her stuff. “I’ll see you guys later!”

               “Good luck, kid.” Yeji held out her balled fist to which Chaeryeong bumped with hers. “Tear the stage.”

               “We’ll be only rehearsing though.”

               “Same thing.” Yeji waved off.

               “Do well, Chae.” I ruffled her hair softly. “Send my regards to Ryujin.”

               She beamed. “Will do!”

               We watched as she happily skipped her way to the door, and once she was out of the room, I turned to face Yeji.

               “Are you and Lia dating now?”

               She let out a choked gasp as she regarded me with bulging eyes.

               “W-What?”

               “Are you and Lia dating now?” I repeated with malice this time. “So?”

               It was fortunate that we were seated in the corner of the room; far from where the members were so, no one would overhear what we were about to talk about.

               ...unless one of us decided to speak louder than normal.

               “N-no, we are...” She gulped, panic all over her face. “...just best friends.”

               I see.

               Her first reaction was to deny it, huh?

               How funny.

               “You are glowing, Yeji,” I pointed out. “You can’t lie to me.”

               She averted her gaze; her face, neck, and even her ears were dusted in red.

               “You’re not going to let this go, are you?”

               “No.” Then I shot her a sweet smile, earning myself a defeated sigh.

               “Alright, cupcake,” she muttered. “Just... give me a second.”

               “Take all the time you need.”

               I waited patiently as she tried to regain her composure.

               Oh my god.

               I never expected that she would be this rattled it almost made me want to laugh out loud.

               She really expected me of all people not to notice when she wasn’t even trying to be subtle about it.

              You made a huge miscalculation, Yeji Hwang.

              “So...”

              My attention went back to her when she finally spoke.      

               “Uh, I-I guess we are?” She faked a cough. “We kind of have a talk, you see. It went great, maybe? I mean, yeah, it went great, and then we decided to give it a go.”

               I hummed thoughtfully.

               “You mean you confessed and she feels the same way?”

               “Yeah.” She lowered her head, sheepishness reeking from her body. “It wasn’t planned. I blurted it out on the spur of the moment.”

               I laughed.

               How... unexpected.

               “What did she say?”

               “She said, she isn’t sure of her feelings for me yet, but she is willing to give us a try.”

               Hmm.

               I am not exactly sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

               Feelings were complicated.

               Yeji waiting in vain was a huge probability.

               “It’s good that she is over Minjeong already.”

               The mere mention of the name was enough to put creases between her eyebrows.

               “Yeah.” She shifted in her seat. “I guess, the fact that their relationship wasn’t serious saved her from falling deeper. It was mostly just for, and I quote, a show. I didn’t ask the details, but apparently, when they were alone, Minjeong Kim wouldn’t even allow Lia to touch her.”

               ...okay.

               I knew it was just indeed a show to make me jealous, but I never would’ve thought that it was that bad.

               A womanizer who doesn’t allow physical affection... how ridiculous.

               “I see...”

               Does that mean... I am her first kiss as well?

               Oddly enough, the mere thought had me feeling giddy.

               “Satisfied, cupcake?”

               I shook my head to rid of very unnecessary thoughts. “Thank you for telling me, Yeji. I am really happy for you.”

               “You actually did me a favor,” she said through her smile. “It is nice to have someone to talk to about matters like this.”

               I agree.

               Bottling up your feelings could be really destructive.

               “I know what you mean.”

               We spent another fifteen minutes talking about her relationship with Lia; how they were basically inseparable these days; how Lia became clingier after the confession; and how Yeji was down bad.

               It was entertaining to hear her talk about her personal life with no restriction since it was telling a lot about how comfortable she was around me.

               Our friendship really had come a long way.

               Because of that, I wondered if I should also tell her about my relationship with Winter...

               Maybe one of these days.





 

               It was quarter to twelve when I left the music club to go to the office of the student council. Since our performance would begin around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, I have more than two hours to spend with her.

               Make the most out of it.

               Holding the two bento boxes that I messily made earlier, I knocked softly on the black door.

               “Come in,” said a familiar, monotonous voice.

               I inhaled a lungful of air before turning the knob, and carefully swung the door open in order to avoid making any noise — the creaking of the hinges screwed it up though.

               Winter had her eyes trained on the papers before her, eyebrows furrowed in concentration as she read whatever was written on them.

               Such an unusual view.

               The ever slacker student being a responsible member of the council.

               I sauntered across the room and halted a meter away from her swivel chair. She’s so focused that she didn’t even take the time to spare me a glance.

               This side of her was freaking attractive.

               “Hello, VP.”

               The speed at which she lifted up her head had me worrying if she snapped a vein.

               “Karina?” she mumbled, looking as if she couldn’t believe that I was in front of her. “Why are you here?”

               Adorable.

               “It’s almost noon.” I dropped myself on the swivel chair beside her. “I figured you haven’t eaten your lunch yet.”

               She nodded. “Can’t. I have to finish this as soon as possible.”

               Ugh.

               Could she stop being so attractive for a second?

               “Here, I brought you food.” I placed the bento box near the papers. “And also, your favorite drink.”

               She eyed the box in disbelief before grabbing it to place before her. “You made this for me?”

               “Yeah.” I nodded, shyly. “I had our chef as my guide.”

               God, was it a disaster.

               It took me countless attempts before I managed to make the bento boxes edible and presentable.

               I highly doubt that it was as delicious as her cooking, but hey... I tried.

               “Well, I’ll be damned,” she blurted out after removing the lid. “...is this supposed to be Sherlock Holmes and some detective paraphernalia?”

               “Um, that’s right...”

               ...or not.

               The art (?) looked more like Merlock Molmes than Sherlock Holmes, to be honest. It was so bad that I feel ashamed to be giving such an abomination to her.

               “You have to excuse the taste and visual though. It’s my first time cooking something aside from sausage and egg. I think I messed up some of the ingredients — probably the salt... or the pepper. God, you know what? Why don’t we just eat out—”

               “Babe.”

               “Huh?”

               “It’s adorable.” She pulled her lips to a toothy grin. “Thank you for taking the time to do this.”

               Heat rushed up to my face.

               I knew she was just being nice, but the way she sounded so gentle and sincere...
              
               “Y-You’re welcome.”

               “I will eat it after I’m done with this.”

               Oh, thank god.

               I definitely wouldn’t want to see her face contort in disgust once she gets to taste my food. That would be most shameful that I probably wouldn’t show my face to her ever again.

               “Sure.”

               She put the lid back on; then placed the bento box inside the drawer under the table.

               “You are serious about making it up to me, huh?”

               I ducked my head in, rubbing my nape.

               “Of course.”

               “Frankly, doing this will only make me fall harder,” she muttered with a light chuckle. “I am already helplessly in love... that it is painful sometimes. What more do you want, really, Karina Yoo?”

               The stare she awarded me afterward was intense; her face showed want for something that I may or may not have an idea as to what exactly it was.

               I swallowed thickly, choosing not to answer her question to avoid embarrassing myself.

               Dead silence.

               I fidgeted in my seat, looking everywhere but her.

               God, it felt so awkward all of a sudden.

               “Could you grab the brown folder on the top row of the shelf over there?” she spoke, dangerously deep.

               That voice again...

               Not even a millisecond and I was already on my feet, stiffly making my way to the shelf that she was pertaining to.

               Okay, deep breaths.

               What was I so nervous for...

               If anything, the need to feel each other’s lips again was mutual.

               Haa.

               Calm your hormones, Jimin.

               Right, what was I here for again?

               Ah, that.

               Brown folder...

               I scanned the top row for the said folder, burrowing my eyebrows when I found nothing even remotely close to the color.

               “It’s not—” I choked back the remaining words when my face almost crashed with hers upon turning around. “What—”

               When I looked up, I was met with the most intense pair of eyes that I’ve ever seen in my life.

               It was so dark.

               ...and glistening with need.

               “I won the challenge.” Her arms found their way around my waist, pulling me close. “I didn’t send us both to the hospital.”

               Thinking rationally was proving to be impossible at this very moment; with the wild rise and fall of my chest because of our proximity, and the burst of different thoughts in my mind, I could only wish to even form a proper sentence.

               “W-Winter?”

               “I’ve been yearning for this...” she mumbled, her face leaning closer until I could feel her warm lips on my bare neck, causing myself to in a harsh breath. “To have you against me again... to feel you like this...”

               “W-What are you doing?"

               But the words seemed to fall on deaf ears as her lips began to move, kissing the exposed skin, causing the air in my lungs to escape from my mouth in a sharp gasp.

               “Claiming my prize...”

               She pulled me in, finally claiming my mouth.

               Hungry.

               Intense.

               I instinctively wrapped my arms around her nape, threading in her silky hair gently as I kissed her back just as intense and hard.

               Caution completely thrown to the wind.

               We indulged in our earthly desires as if there was no risk of someone walking in on us.

              All my pent-up emotions were released simultaneously as I relished the feeling of her soft lips moving expertly against mine.

               Her hands slipped down the curve of my sides to rest on my hips as she drew me in even closer.

               Oh my god.

               If she wasn’t holding me, I’m sure I would’ve dropped down on the floor by now with how weak she was making me feel.

               I pushed myself off the shelf, erasing the tiny spaces between us, pressing against her in need to feel more of her.

               , I couldn’t get enough of her.

               The tip of her tongue brushed my bottom lip, asking for permission, and I opened to let her in, welcoming the urgent swirl that sent a gush of searing flames racing through my body.

              A restrained moan escaped my lips at the sensation — at the pleasure she was giving me.

               By the time I became aware of my fingers, they had already slipped under her uniform, her skin smooth and radiating heat.

               The action had her separating herself from me, a self-satisfied smirk dangling on her swollen lips.

               Although dizzy, I tried to focus my eyes on her flushed face

               “Baby...” she whispered, hoarsely. “If you do something like that again, I’m afraid you wouldn’t be leaving this room... with your clothes intact.”

               Instead of shying away as I would normally do, I mirrored the expression on her face, bottom lip caught between my teeth sensually.

               “I’d like to see you try, Kim.”

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taglamig
Won't be able to update for a while. PH election is draining tf out of me. Not really in the right state of mind to write anything. Thank you :)
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