6: Always

Yooji: Love is War

               There would be a surprise long quiz on one of our subjects later. Our prof wanted to see how much we had learned for the past weeks so she would know exactly what she should focus on to make sure all of us would pass the upcoming term exam.

               A good tactic, if I may say.

               Though, I find the urgency unnecessary.

               The term exam was still a couple of months away. Students shouldn’t be stressing themselves just yet since we were already in our last year of high school where days we could leisurely relax were now numbered.

               Because of that same reason, I was taking advantage of the days where I could visit the music club since the day we would be ordered to quit every extracurricular activity that we were part of was fast approaching.

              That also meant, going back to rigorous practice with my mentor as more often than not, major piano competitions were held a month after the term exam.

               So, yes.

               The upcoming months were going to be really stressful.

               I glanced at the wall clock hanging above the front door of our room that read fifty minutes after nine o’clock in the morning.

               Ten minutes before the start of the quiz.

               The classroom was unusually serene today for the majority of my classmates had their heads down, notes on their desk to do a last-minute review, while the minority were just chilling or conversing with their cliques about stuff unrelated to school.

               I would be doing the same as the former mentioned above but I had already done some advance reading last night and I wouldn’t want to mix things up in my head so I chose to just assist Aeri who was trying to stuff loads of information into her short-term memory as of the moment because she decided it was best to binge-watch a certain rom-com series on Netflix than be a responsible student.

               Truth be told, Science was not a difficult subject; at least for me. As long as you were interested, read every once in a while, had decent knowledge in Math, and possess a good memory, you wouldn’t have a problem excelling in it.

               “Why do we even need to study if we are all inevitably going to die eventually?” Then she slammed her pen down on her reviewer.

               I found myself grimacing at her sentiments.

               What kind of logic was that?

               This girl I swear to god.

               “Probably so you can outsmart Satan himself once you are sent in the deepest part of hell.”

               She made a face childishly before picking up her reviewer again, albeit unwillingly.

               Aeri could really be a kid one moment, and then be a grandmother the next moment. If that’s a good or bad thing, I had no idea.

               My attention returned in front when our prof finally clapped her hands together indicating the quiz was about to proceed, earning collective groans from my classmates who hesitantly their notes back inside their bags.

               I quickly scanned the contents once I received the questionnaire.

               Oh?

               This was rather easy.

               It was enumeration and everything which I had read last night was reflected on the questions, fortunately.

               I was quick to finish the quiz and since Aeri was still busy pulling her hair while trying to fill her paper with the correct answers, I opted to just wait for her in the gazebo we frequent in.

               Exactly as I stepped outside the room, I saw Minjeong a couple of meters away from me leaning against the wall with her hands tucked inside the pockets of her blazer.

               A small smile broke out of her face when our eyes found each other but she stayed rooted in her place.

               Had she been here all this time, waiting for me to come out? I scanned the vicinity for possible onlookers with great caution.

               The rumors regarding us had already died down as it was surmounted by my rumors with her sister instead and the last thing that I wanted to happen was people talking about how I was targeting the siblings.

               “Almost all the students are inside their respective classrooms.” I brought back my gaze to her when she spoke. “It’s just us here in this corridor. You don’t have anything to worry about.”

               I sighed in relief.

               “What are you doing here?”

               The corner of her lips curved upward.

               “I wanted to see you.”

               “W-What?” I stammered out, the out of the blue bluntness catching me off guard.

               “I missed you so I came to see you.”

                And she really had to say that again as if I didn’t hear her the first time.

               “Quit it with the greasy crap.”

               She chuckled.

               “I also came here to tell you that we will be having lunch together later.”

               “What?” I looked at her, appalled. “We were just together yesterday!”

               “So?” She raised a questioning brow. “We are girlfriends, Jimin. It’s normal to spend time together.”

               I rubbed my face in frustration.

               Good lord.

               I think I was now starting to regret my decision.

               Having to go on dates with her was one thing. Now I also had to be with her during school hours?

               Was this what they call, hell on earth?

               “Ryujin is in the library.”

               My ears automatically perked up when I heard the name.

               “H-Huh?”

               “She has no class so she’s there to pass the time.”

               Hold on.

               I don’t understand.

               “Why are you saying this to me?”

               She pressed her lips together, her stare turning cold.

               “I said I will help you with her, right?” Her hands went at the back of her neck, clasping them together. “Since you went out on a date with me yesterday, I think it’s fair to let you have an alone time with her this time.”

               I stared dumbly at her, her words repeating themselves inside my head like a broken record.

               It’s just fair?

               Were my ears playing tricks on me?

               Was this really the Minjeong I knew?

               Kim Minjeong?

               The devil incarnate?

               The one who was known for being cunning was talking about being fair?

               This must be a dream.

               “You should go,” I heard her say, pulling me out of my thoughts. “Don’t forget our lunch.”

               Before I could even find my tongue to say anything, she already her heels, walking away from me without looking back.

               What was that...?







               Just as Minjeong said, Ryujin was indeed in the library, reading something that was probably very entertaining for her because of the thrilled expression she was wearing.

               Her friends were nowhere in sight, and the small number of students that were also here did not seem to be aware of her presence, propelling me to assume that this was the perfect chance (that Minjeong created) to get close to her.

               I took in a deep, long breath to fill my lungs with tons of courage before releasing it in a harsh sigh.

               Here goes nothing.

               With tentative steps, I made my way towards her. This was going to be the first time I would approach her without any particular reason ever since we became acquainted with each other and boy was it so nerve-wracking.

               I don’t think I could do this.

               My heart thumped loudly against my chest as her breathtaking visage became clearer as our distance from each other depleted.

               God.

               How was she real?

               She must’ve heard my footsteps because she suddenly shot her head up, her lips forming a wide grin when saw me.

               “Jimin, hey,” she said once I was an arm’s away from her.

               “H-Hi.” I unconsciously pushed a strand of my hair behind my ears. “Is this seat taken?”

               She shook her head a little too quickly.

               “You can sit here.”

               I mumbled a shy thanks before timidly taking the chair next to her, keeping my head down because I do not have the courage to meet her gaze that could turn me into a puddle.

               Oh my god.

               Only when I caught a whiff of her perfume did it sink in that I was sitting at the same table with the subject of my affection.

               I couldn’t believe I was saying this but...

               Thank god for Minjeong Kim.

               “You don’t have class as well?”

               “Um, no. We had a surprise long quiz and I finished earlier than the rest so...”

               She regarded me in amazement.

               “Must be a piece of cake for you, huh?”

               I was quick to shake my head, shrinking on my seat as I did so.

               “N-No, not really.”

                She slightly turned her body to face me properly, her elbows propping on the table to rest her chin against her palms before she stared at me longer than most people would find normal.

               “You are really pretty; especially up close.”

               My heart leaped into my throat.

               Every part of my body went on pause as my brain struggled to digest her words.

               Blood rushed up to my neck, dyeing my face in a deep shade of red.

               I tried to open my mouth to say something, only to close it again when nothing came out.

               It felt like I was on cloud nine.

               Ryujin’s silent giggles brought me back from the momentary trance she put me in.

               ing hell.

               Our first time alone together and I made a fool out of myself.

               Way to go, Jimin Yoo.

               Ha. Ha. Ha.

               “I didn’t know you can’t take compliments well.” She eyed me, amused. “It’s strange considering you have a face straight out of a magazine.”

               I ducked my head, letting my hair cascade in an attempt to cover my face.

               One more compliment from her and I might just explode.

               “You can stop now...”

               She smirked, oddly reminding me of someone who always wore the said expression.

               “Damn.” She swiped her tongue across her bottom lip. “If only...”

               “Hmm?” I probed when she cut herself off.

               “Nevermind.” She gave me a small smile. “Do you usually go here during your free time?”

               I hesitantly nodded my head.

               While it was true that the library was almost my second home now the librarian was probably sick of seeing my face already, if it wasn’t for her sister, I wouldn’t be even here right now.

               Once again,

               Thank god for Minjeong Kim.

               “I figured as much.” She puffed her chest, appearing boastful. “You are the best student our school has ever produced after all.”

               Now...

               “You must be talking about your sister.”

               I could feel myself cringing upon hearing the bitterness in my tone.

               She eyed me disapprovingly.

               “No. I am talking about you.”

               I knew I should be screaming in my head right now. This was Ryujin that was praising me, after all. But, I couldn’t bring myself to for I was very well aware that I, in fact, wasn’t the best.

               “Sure, Ryujin.”

               Silence fell upon us.

               The hushed whispers of the students around us, the flipping of the pages, and the sound the air conditioners were making were the only noises that could be heard.

               Ryujin was openly looking at me, her face serious as if she was in deep thought.

               “A-Anyway, aren’t you going back to your classroom yet?”

               “Later. I’d like to spend more time with you if you’d let me.”

               She would like to what?!

               Oh my god.

               I was pretty sure I looked like a riped tomato right now.

               I didn’t know Ryujin was such a smooth-talker...

               “O-Of course.”

               “Do you mind if we go somewhere else? It’s kind of uncomfortable talking in a place where silence must be observed at all times.”

               That’s how I found myself walking alongside Ryujin around the campus. Every student that we would pass by would gape at us, curiosity was apparent in their expressions.

               Us being together for the second time this week would further fuel the rumors surrounding us.

               Do I care?

               Absolutely not.

               If it’s with Ryujin, I wouldn’t mind whatever absurdity people might throw at me.

               We’d talked about a lot of things.

               How she came to love dancing when saw her sister perform at a talent show when she was in primary school.

               The information surprised me a bit.

               I didn’t know Minjeong could dance.

               She also told me how they were asked to learn at least one musical instrument by their parents when they were younger.

               Minjeong learned to play the violin; something I was aware of.

               Aside from being the top student in the country, she was also the youngest violinist to dominate the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition, the most prestigious violin competition at the age of 9.

               Yep, god’s favorite.

               Ryujin on the other hand learned to play the piano, a detail about her that I didn’t know.

               I asked her why I never saw her in any piano competition that I competed in.

               “It is just a hobby.” She shrugged. “And I prefer to play as Minjeong’s accompanist.”

               What a shame.

               I would like to see her perform someday.

               “You really adore your sister, no?”

               “She’s the most amazing person I have ever known.” Her lips stretched into a melancholic smile. “That is why it pains me to see her greatly misunderstood.”

               Misunderstood..?

               Was she saying that there was more to her than what meets the eye?

               ....I find that hard to believe.

               Whatever.

               It wasn’t like I care.

               Our conversation was put to a halt when an unfamiliar guy walked up to us, a bouquet in his hands while scratching his nape in what I assume was a shy manner.

               “M-Miss Jimin Yoo, this is for you.”

               The students around us howled in unison.

               Sounds of camera shutters filled my ears.

               I remained unmoving, not sure whether or not to accept the bouquet to save the guy from embarrassment.

               “I’m sorry dude, but she’s not available.” Ryujin suddenly stepped in front of me to face the guy. “So, why don’t you take your garbage with you and throw it in the nearest trash can?”

               The guy stood there, visibly shocked by my companion’s hostility.

               I couldn’t blame him since I was feeling the same.

               Ryujin had this kind of side?

               That was... hot.

               “Let’s go, Jimin.”

               Ryujin pulled me out of the scene with hurried steps. Her eyebrows were knitted together as if she was annoyed.

               Wait, annoyed?

               Why would she be annoyed?

               “A-Are you okay?” I asked hesitantly.

               “That guy is an animal, Jimin.” The scowl on her face deepened. “His gesture was supposed to be sweet, but his behavior was anything but.”

               “What do you mean?”

               She sighed.

               “Just, just don’t associate yourself with guys like him, okay?”

               Even though I didn’t know what she was talking about, I still nodded my head.

               She seemed satisfied with my answer.

               “Yooji!”

                I turned to the owner of the voice to see Aeri marching in our direction.

               “Oops, it looks like I have to go now.” I looked at her when she let go of my arm.

               “O-Oh, I see.”

               I tried not to sound too disappointed.

               Would it be greedy to ask for more time with her?

               Our time together felt too short.

               I almost jumped from my spot when she pinched my cheek gently.

               “See you later, cutie.”

               My eyes watched her blend into the crowd, mouth agape, unable to believe what had just happened.

               “What did I just witness?” I heard Aeri ask, but I was too out of myself to provide her a proper answer.

               “I’m never washing my face again.”







               I told Aeri everything that had happened between me and Ryujin without leaving any single detail out when we reached the gazebo. I probably even jumbled the series of events because of how fast I was talking but who cares? I was too overjoyed to even bother.

               Even the part where Minjeong was the one who made all of these possible, I didn’t forget to include to let her know that the devil was surprisingly being true to her words.

               “Do you think she is also interested in me?” I pried once I was finished with my story.

               Aeri rubbed her chin. “Well, I would say she was probably jealous of the guy who was making a move on you that was why she behaved like that, but I don’t want to get your hopes up.”

               I bit back the screech that begged to come out of my lips.

               “You think so?! Oh my god!”

               “Girl, calm down.” She held my shoulders to stop me from moving around. “I said probably. We won’t know if that was really the reason unless she says so.”

               She was making sense I know, but my ears chose to filter her words, focusing only on the brighter side.

               Ryujin was jealous...

               It was like a fever dream.

               “Wow... that really happened.”

               “If Ryujin is really interested in you, then you are one hell of a lucky .” Aeri smiled at me teasingly. “Imagine having both the Kim siblings wrapped around your fingers?”

               “I am lucky but I only care about Ryujin.”

               “Uh-huh, if you say so,” she said, unconvinced. “With how things are going, it seems like you won’t be needing Minjeong’s help anymore.”

               Well...

               That might be true.

               But I didn’t want to take any chances.

               “I can’t be too complacent,” I replied. “She played a big part in what happened today, you know?”

               “That’s true.”

               “Right? I still need her.”

               “Oh well.” She shrugged her shoulders. “I just hope their relationship won’t be ruined because they happen to like the same girl.”

               I was about to say something when my phone buzzed in my pocket.
 

Cruella de Vil:     Meet me on the rooftop.
                                  Now.
 

               I stood up.

               “I gotta go, Aeri.”

               “Huh? Where are you going?”

               “I’ll be having lunch with Minjeong.”

               Too excited to wait for her response, I immediately rushed towards the meeting place, not minding the weird stares the students gave me for running like an idiot.

               Once I opened the door to the rooftop and saw Minjeong leaning on the railings with her back on me, I found myself taking long strides to embrace her as tight as I could.

               I felt her body stiffened, but she didn’t remove my arms.

               “Thank you so much, Minjeong.”

               Her breathing became heavy.

               “Always, Jimin.”

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taglamig
This will be updated soon. I'm just caught up w/ work rn so I don't have time to write anything. See y'all soonest.
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