Is this an illusion?
Pretty sure I’ve imagined this before.
Me. Him. Having breakfast together. It’s like we’re newlyweds and this is our first breakfast as Mr. and Mrs. D—
His handsome face across me suddenly goes blurry when something blocks my sight. Uncle Jaewoo is waving a rolled newspaper in front of me and that’s when I realized that he’s been trying to get my attention. I couldn’t tell why I was spacing out, so I only responded with a grin, lowering my head slightly in case I am severely flushed.
“Is everything okay with you, hun? Do you want a different breakfast? What do you usually eat? Come on, tell us. You need energy for a long school day.” He insists, giving me a fatherly smile. One that I used to get from my father. I avoid the familiar look and I end up looking across me again. And there he still is. Reading a book while munching on his egg sandwich.
He looks even more handsome when he’s doing something that he’s genuinely enjoying. And I’m not only talking about the book. He’s so adorable when he eats.
He catches my gaze and holds it for a few seconds before looking away again and gulping down the last bit of his juice. “I’m going ahead. Thank you for the breakfast.” He bids goodbye to his father before turning in the direction of the kitchen where his mom was just getting out with a big bowl of what looks like a salad.
“How’s the breakfast, Hanna? Do you like it alright? Sorry, I forgot to ask your Mom what you usually eat before she left for work. I didn’t know she opens the snack bar so early!” Aunt Yoojin places the bowl at the center of the table and spots Kyungsoo across us, throwing the strap of his bag over his shoulder. “Oh, Kyungsoo—you’re not done with your breakfast yet—and you have to wait for Hanna. She doesn’t know the route to school yet.”
I look up at her and was about to shake my head when Kyungsoo spoke.
“She has a phone. She either has Kakaomap or Naver Map. She can go there alone.” He replies nonchalantly before bowing at his parents one last time and turning away.
“I’m coming with you! I’m done I’m done I’m done!” Minsoo shoved the last big piece of his sandwich in his mouth before rushing to gather his things and following his big brother to the door.
Aunt Yoojin stomps her feet to them. “No no no. Kyungsoo, get back here. You’re going to be nice and come to school with Hanna. Understood?” She then rushes to the young man, Minsoo, and put both arms around his shoulders, dragging him back. “Nu-uh, you’re gonna finish the rest of your breakfast. You still didn’t finish your soup; Mommy will take you to school.” She reprimands the frantic kid trying to get away so he could follow his brother.
I didn’t expect the Do family to be quite a chaos in the morning. It’s kind of cute. I get to see this side of Kyungsoo—well, not his side entirely but still … it’s exciting to be a part of this now. Speaking of the handsome devil, he just finished putting on his shoes and is leaning against the shoe cabinet, hands in his pockets, eyes glaring intensely in my direction.
He’s staring at me.
Oh shoot, he’s waiting for me. I didn’t think he’d actually follow his mother’s instructions in the end. I finish my breakfast as fast as possible and take another sip of my milk. Then I run towards the front door while clumsily putting the bag straps into my arms. “Sorry, I didn’t know you’re—" I remember to bid goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Do so I spin around again and bow. “Thank you for the nice breakfast! We’re heading to school now! I hope you have a nice day and—” I hear the front door shut close, making me stand up straight again to look at it.
Ugh, he left me!
“Bye!” I say to the parents and the grumpy little Minsoo one more time before running out to chase the other grumpy not-so-little man, Kyungsoo. “Wait for me, Kyungsoo!” I say as I catch the gate before it fully closes.
I start following him as we walk on the pathway beside the clean and empty neighbourhood street, and it bothers me how big of a gap we have. So, I pick up my pace as much as I can but for some reason … the gap was the same.
Oh. He also picked up his pace when I did.
“Wait—you’re walking too fast. Just a second—stop, wait—” I pant in between hurried steps. Suddenly, he goes to a full stop. And I freaking don’t. Before I realized that, however, I’d already crashed hard right on his back. Solid. Warm. Manly back.
Oh, god. What did I just do? I quickly recover from the contact and skip away from him as fast as I can. “Sorry, I didn’t—you stopped way too quickly.” I try to laugh it off but the awkward silence that follows tells me it’s not going to change anything.
I have already made him angry.
He turns to face me, and I recoil in surprise. Cautiously, I meet his eyes and swallow the big lump in my throat. I want to look away, but he’s making it really hard to do so.
Kyungsoo inhales heavily before finally speaking. “Let’s get something straight here, I have some ground rules now that we live under the same roof, and I will not be repeating this so make sure you listen or else I’m not going easy on you anymore and by the way, I will only show you the route once so don’t expect us to do this together every day. Understand?”
I can’t quite hold my shiver when I realize I missed a big portion of what he just said and only caught on the part where he said I will not be repeating this so make sure you listen. “You’re gonna what—say that again, sorry. You we—were too fast.” Ugh, I’m dead. Just when I thought I irritate him enough.
“One. Keep a distance. At least five meters away from me. More would be amazing.” He said slowly. Almost too slowly, actually.
Five meters. How far is five meters? I try to think about it as I look up at the sky. Not that I’d find answers up there, but it would be nice if it was up there. “Five meters, how far is that exac—”
“Take a step back.”
I take a step back as instructed.
“Take a step back again.”
I do it again. Sure.
And again, I guess?
One. Two. Three.
I look at the spot I am standing on. “Is this exactly five meters? That’s so cool, how’d you know just by looking at our distance?” I ask in awe. He really is so smart. I wouldn’t have known that without using a device like a tape measure or whatever.
“Two. I will repeat it, unfortunately. I will only show the way to school once and that is today,” He starts walking towards me as if he’s about to attack me with a butcher he’s hiding behind him. “If you fail to get it today or are unable to use your phone just like any nineteen-year-old would do usually nowadays, that’s not my problem anymore. Tie a long string on lamp posts and trees, or leave breadcrumbs to leave tracks for yourself, I don’t care what you do anymore after today. Understood?”
I look up. I look down. I look up again. I look down again.
“Yo—you’re not … you’re not five meters away anymore, this is more like five inches? Or Centi—me—ters?” I stutter as he leans closer and closer and closer—and for some reason, I start closing my eyes. Not that I think he’s going to kiss me, but I guess it’s a reflex. “Sorry, I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic or anything weird like that, I was just wondering why you’re super close right now and I—”
I feel the warmth of his body leave, making me open my eyes again, and he is now walking backwards back to his original spot. He then raised a hand, showing me three fingers up. “Three. Nobody should ever know that we live together, alright? Nobody. I don’t want any weird rumours starting between us. What you did a few days ago was already enough bother for me.”
I tip my head to the side while scratching my temple. “I know but—isn’t that a little hard to maintain? We have the same exact route everyday. Eventually, I feel like people would just—”
“Don’t make it my problem.” He threatens.
I nod eagerly. “I know that, it’s just—”
“Four. Don’t ever talk to me again when we’re in school.” He widens his eyes at me one last time before turning around and walking away briskly. I scrunch my nose in frustration. He’s such a handsome jerk. What’s wrong with my brain? After all that, I should like him less. But I think the complete opposite just happened. I try to shake the thought off my head as I follow the jerk while glaring intensely at his back. His broad back that I felt. His warm broad back that I crashed into—
“Five meters!” He suddenly shouts making me jump away from where I was walking as if ants are all over me. I grip my bag straps tighter while slowing down just so I can maintain the stupid five-meter gap he wants.
“Alright alright! Jeez.” I yell back.
I should hate him. I should really really dislike him now.
But why is my heart pounding even more? Maybe if I just wait for a little more until I am used to having more interactions with him like today, I’d start feeling less. This is normal. It’s just the impact of everything. He has said more words and has looked me in the eyes more times than he ever had before.
If it becomes an everyday thing, especially in this kind of manner then I’d eventually stop liking him. I guess it’s better that he’s treating me this way so it’s easier for me to do just that.
The trip to school was awful.
The subway train was packed, and I was being pushed here and there. Do Kyungsoo on the other hand was sitting comfortably on one of the seats. He didn’t even offer it to me! I’m all for gender equality but I still like to think that old-school gentlemen exist in this lifetime.
Maybe they do. I’m sure they still do. It’s just that Do Kyungsoo is not one of them.
When we finally got off the subway, phew, I chase him up the busy stairs. “Hey!” I try to get his attention repeatedly until we were out of the station. “Do! Kyung! Soo! Just a second—I have something to say.” I grunt in between panting.
Finally, he stops. “Didn’t I tell you not to talk to me? The school is a block away and students are everywhere, they might see us.” He coldly responds without bothering to look at me.
“I was being pushed a lot in there and I almost fell at one point. One guy literally shoved me against the door. And my feet got stepped on multiple times. You could have offered me your seat or something. There were two seats there initially and you didn’t even save the other one for me, you just let that one guy take it before I could. Is—isn’t it like … like a common courtesy fo—for gentlemen to offer seats to ladies?”
Finally, he turns around. Tilts his head to the side. “Are you pregnant?”
“Wha—what—of course not!”
“Are you an old person?”
“No bu—but I still—”
“Are you with special needs?”
“Uh … no.”
He puts his hands in his pockets and smirks. “It’s not my fault that you couldn’t catch up with me. Am I right?” He tilts his head one more time before turning away and walking ahead. Before I could follow, he signalled me to maintain the distance, so I had no other choice but to walk slower. “He’s so mean.” I muffle quietly, half-convincing myself to stop being so darn blind in love.
He will never like me. In fact, he treats me like I’ve wronged him on a personal level. Which I believe I haven’t. All I’ve ever done was that love letter that he never even got to read! But now that we happen to live together because of our parents, he seems to dislike me even more. As if I chose what happened. He probably thinks I pushed my mom to live with them.
I may like him very very much … but I won’t ever do something like that. My mom doesn’t even know about my feelings. I’m too scared to tell her. It might make everyone feel awkward around us if they found out that … I have feelings for Kyungsoo.
But who knows, I might be able to finally move on from him now that he knows about it.
I’ve let it out. Now, it’s time to move on. Maybe if I just chant, I hate him, repeatedly in my head, my brain would eventually believe it.
I hate him.
I hate him.
I hate Do Kyungsoo
I hate him so so so mu—
A loud slam on a hard surface makes me jump in fear. I look up to meet my teacher’s eyes, glaring in my direction. “Huh?”
“Miss Wang, is everything alright with you? You seem to be in your own head right now having a nice little chat, why don’t you share it with us instead?” Her tone is obviously sarcastic, so I just lower my head again for a bow. “Come on guys, you have to take this more seriously now that this year will be your last in high school. How many times do I have to tell you that we need to do better in our tests? The average score of this class is lower than the normal average score of the entire school. We are the one and only class that is declining steadily as finals approach.”
I look around me, more than half of us aren’t even listening and some are even fully asleep on their desks. Including me now, I could probably count the students who are actively participating and listening with my two hands.
“Oof, that’s cool! One and only, huh?” Baekhyun who sits beside me grins.
I look at him in bewilderment. How is that even a good thing? How is he finding something good out of this right now? Ugh, no wonder Do Kyungsoo hates me. I’m so stupid and I’m in a class full of equally stupid people.
“Oh, you think that’s cool, Mr. Byun?” The teacher fakes a smile at Baekhyun before frowning again. “Here’s something much cooler than that. The total grade of all your test scores combined … is still lower than our top student Do Kyungsoo’s grade on one test? Isn’t that even cooler?” She fakes a laugh which makes everyone quiet again except for who is Baekhyun grunting and scrunching his nose angrily at her.
I haven’t even been here long enough, but I quickly blended in, because I’m doing just as bad as everyone. If not worse. How can I hate someone like Do Kyungsoo? I deserve the treatment. I deserve the rejection.
I will never match up with him.
I will never be good enough for him.
Light bulb moment. But what if I can? What if I could be good enough for him? What if I could change how he looks at me? “I can!” I yell, maybe a little too loud. Yikes. I was supposed to shout that in my head. Everyone looks at me in confusion, including the teacher.
“Uh, I was uh—” I nervously laugh while recollecting myself. “I was just—it’s uhm … I want to beat Do Kyungsoo’s grades,” I tell them.
Everyone laughs. Including Miran and Sunyoung … and Byun Baekhyun? What the hell? He put a hand on my shoulder and leans closer. “Baby, I love you but uhm … I don’t think that’s possible. You’re so cute though.” He scrunches his nose at me before pinching my cheek. I just wince away from his touch and glare at everyone else who is mocking me.
“What—okay! Even if I can’t beat him, I still—well, I still want to—” I groan under my breath as I try to come up with a better plan to prove myself.
“Sis, just give up. It’s okay, you don’t have to go this far for revenge.” Sunyoung rubs my back behind me. “It’s wishful thinking, none of us here including you can even be on the Top 60 Chart. And Do Kyungsoo’s name on that chart is at the very far left, on the number one spot. That means you have to beat everyone else on that chart first before you can beat him.” She adds, further dismissing my idea.
The teacher taps the table multiple times to quiet us down. “Okay, guys. I understand the reactions but … at least Miss Wang here has the passion to even think about this. It’s uhm … a little far-fetched since … no one from Class F has ever been on that chart. Ever. Still, I really appreciate you Miss Wang.” She says kindly.
I clench my fists on the edge of my desk. “Even if I can’t beat him … I still want to—I want to try being on that chart. For the coming exams, I will be in that chart, ma’am.” I tell her.
She gives me the same defeated smile. “Like I said, Miss Wang. Ever since this school was established in the eighties, nobody from Class F has ever been on that chart so I don’t think—”
“Then I will be the first one,” I tell her.
My determination is warped by the thought of Do Kyungsoo, and maybe I am delusional, but I know in my heart that I can do it as long as I put my heart into it. I know I can be in that chart. I know that someday, my name and his name will be on the same chart, no matter how far the distance is.
It’s amazing how news spread fast. Within the next few days of me saying what I said in class, my statement had been spread throughout the entire school.
The news went so far that it also reached a student from the campus radio who announced it as a blind item (as if) to everyone during lunchtime that a certain someone from the lowest class who recently got rejected by a certain someone from the highest class is challenging herself to be part of the Top 60 Chart to prove herself to him. Not my words. I didn’t say those words exactly, but I guess it was way too obvious that that was my main goal. Still, not my words.
Students were cheering me on and others were mocking me for even thinking about it. Blind item my .
I’m not surprised if even Do Kyungsoo had heard about it. Well, how could he not? It was freaking broadcasted on the campus radio for god’s sake.
Oh my god, what did I get myself into?
I aggressively wipe the fog off the mirror to see myself. All fresh and clean but the steamy hot water in the shower still wasn’t enough to clear my head. I need to start studying for the midterms. I don’t know how I’m going to do it … but I need to start now while it’s terribly early.
When I stepped out of the bathroom, I am welcomed by Kyungsoo who is waiting right there with a towel over his shoulders. I jump in fear as I hide behind the door despite that I am now fully dressed in my pyjamas.
He leaned on the wall behind him and folded his arms. “Are you done yet?”
“Uhm, well … I—yeah.” I sigh in defeat before slowly sliding out of the door. I wanted to say something to him, but I don’t really know what. He hasn’t really said anything about the very obvious blind item this afternoon, but I know in my heart that he’s heard about it. I guess it’s better that he’s not reacting to it.
“Sorry, it’s very steamy in there. I like hot showers.” I tell him quietly as we switch places and he gets in.
I stare at his back and stand still at the door for a few seconds before he looks at me over his shoulder. What does he want now? Why does he have the look on his face, like he’s about to say something explosive? What did I do again?
He clears his throat. “You forgot your clothes in there.”
Out of reflex, I look down on myself and press both hands on my body. I have my clothes on, what does he mean by that? “What? I have clothes on. Are you trying to make fun of me agai—”
“On the floor. Your uniform clothes and other stuff.” He speaks.
It takes me a second before realizing what he meant. “Oh crap!” I hurry back into the bathroom, sliding past him and quickly picking up my dirty clothes and underwear that I had forgotten on the floor. I’m still not used to the system here.
There are three bathrooms in this house, but I have to share one bathroom with Kyungsoo and Minsoo since we all stay on the second floor. I don’t have my own bathroom in my room and usually, I’d just strip in my room and then walk straight into the shower but now I have to go out of the room and then take my clothes off. It’s just a whole different system that I’m still adjusting to.
Damn it! He must have seen my underwear. It’s not gross or anything but I wore one of my worst-looking and worn-out underwear today. It’s cotton and it’s comfortable but it’s not the prettiest, I have to admit.
“It’s just a bad day today, I was rushing for school, and I was—I usually wear things with, you know, with … with lace and stuff.” I try to explain while hugging the clothes close to my chest.
He just leans on the door frame while staring at me. A cold smirk slowly lifts one corner of his mouth, the steam in the bathroom making his face extra dewy looking and it’s making him a little more attractive than he normally is.
I clear my throat as I look around the bathroom just to avoid his gaze. “Are you planning to stay here and watch me take a shower?”
My eyes widen at his question. Oh crap, he’s just waiting for me to leave. Instead of sprinting out as the rightful reaction to his mockery, I just freeze in panic. My grip on the clothes tightens to my chest when I feel it pounding heavily. Kyungsoo suddenly starts walking towards me while holding on to the two ends of the towel still hung on his shoulders. “I mean … if you really want to watch, I guess I could make some exceptions, right? I just have one condition though, if you don’t mind?” He leans closer and closer making me take a step back until my back is touching the cold tile of the bathroom wall.
Our faces are inches away from each other. Why does he keep doing this to me? I can feel my knuckles getting colder as I hold my clothes tighter and tighter, using them as a shield. He’s so close … super close that I could almost feel his warm skin touching mine. Almost cheek to cheek when he leans even closer to my ear. Then, he put a hand on the wall just beside my head and I swallow the big lump accumulating in my throat.
“I’ll let you watch if … you tell me what your GPA is.” He seductively whispers in my ear and my entire body goes cold in realization.
I hit his chest with my clothes before running out. I could hear him laughing hysterically in there, so I kick the door of the bathroom before scurrying into my room. Why does he keep teasing me like that? It’s not even funny. I press a hand on my throbbing chest while I lean on my closed door. He was so close, so warm … he always manages to make me feel things like this and it’s only been a week since I moved in here.
No, this won’t do. I can’t let him distract me from my determination. I need to study. I need to be in that chart. Also, it’s a little too late for me to back out now since everyone in school knows about it now.
I slowly recover from the bathroom incident as I ease myself into studying—or more like deliberately make myself drowsy by reading these stupid books. Why can’t I retain anything? Why is it so hard to remember these words? Why are the numbers floating everywhere? Seriously, they look like they’re floating on the paper.
Three hours passed.
Wow. I thought studying at home would make me focus better than when I’m staying in school. I thought studying all alone would help me understand things better than having a strict proctor watching my every move during after-school studies. Nothing works for me. These books give me the same effect everywhere I go—it makes me want to sleep.
I look at the wall clock. Oh, god. It’s 10:30 PM and I’m not even halfway through this chapter. I look at my door. Across from me, Do Kyungsoo is peacefully asleep and not worrying about a thing. That jerk sleeps at ten o’clock sharp every night, bothered by nothing. He’s also nineteen but he lives like an old person who goes to bed way too early and misses all the fun.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
I jerk away from the sound of the knock on my door. I quickly fix my hair that I’ve been messing up every time I’d get frustrated. “Come in,” I say and Aunt Yoojin peeks in with a smile.
“You’re still awake, dear? Still, studying huh? I thought I should bring you some snacks to help you study. Here.” She cautiously opens the door and comes in with a tray full of sweet snacks and a glass of strawberry milk.
Aww, why is she so sweet?
Where the hell did Do Kyungsoo get his bad temper? Both his parents are the sweetest people ever. I don’t understand.
She places the tray in the small space beside my pile of books before sitting on the edge of my bed. “You know, it’s fun for me to see you studying like this. Since Kyungsoo never studies, I never really get to take care of him this way. This is so fun and cute.” She gives me a motherly smile while my hair.
“He never studied before? Even for finals and stuff?” I ask as I grab a cookie from the tray.
Aunt Yoojin shrugs and shakes her head. “You see it. He’s always asleep by ten. He doesn’t study here, nor does he do the after-school thing. He said he goes to school for a reason, that’s where he learns and then that’s it. He does the classes, reviews it himself once in school and then he’s good.”
Damn. I can’t believe someone could do that.
“He’s really amazing huh?” I mutter to myself and I can’t help but grin at the realization. As much as I hate how he teases me all the time and is rude to me … I can’t help but be amazed at him. “It would be nice if he could tutor me. Even that wouldn’t work for me. I’m a little slow, you see. You know. Mom probably told you many times that I don’t do good in school.” I joke. Not in a million would he ever do that.
I picture him tutoring me. The focus on his face, the smile he’d give me whenever I’d get the right answers. When he ruffles my hair because I did a good job. When he finally sees me differently and starts growing feelings for me because I’m not the same stupid girl that he once rejec—
I rub the grin off my face and look away, chewing my smile away along with the cookie. “Sorry, I think I’m way too sleepy. I’m delusional now—thank you for the snacks, it will wake me up for sure.” I smile at her before lowering my head for a light bow.
“Oh, why don’t you try asking him? Maybe he’d be willing to tutor you. He’s aloof but he’s really not that bad, trust me. He’s very shy.” She assures me but I’m pretty dead-set on what I think about Kyungsoo. He’s not shy at all. At least not to me. And he will never tutor me. Nothing would make him tutor me. I freaking wish.
“It’s ok—okay, I don’t want to bother him.” I shake my head in defeat.
Suddenly, Aunt Yoojin snaps her fingers. “You know what, there’s another way to wake you up. Do you want to see Kyungsoo’s baby pictures?”
I lose my fake grin in an instant and my face begins warming up. Kyungsoo’s baby pictures. His past. His memories. Oh, do I want to see all of them.
“You’ve seen him since you two were five when we came back home but I have a lot of pictures from when we lived in Japan when my husband was working there. You want to see them?” I grin excitedly as I watch her skip out of the room. When she comes back, she has two thick photo albums in her hands. I sit beside her on my bed as she starts flipping through the hard pages.
“Oh my god, those are cute—wait … who’s the little girl?” I point at the pictures of the same little girl posing for the camera.
She smiles at me. “That’s Kyungsoo.”
Uhm. What? What did she just say? I look at the photos more closely and I finally see the resemblance. No freaking way. What the hell? What did they do to him? Why is he … wearing girl clothes?
Aunt Yoojin laughs. “Let me explain, we weren’t trying to mess him up on purpose. Kyungsoo was actually born in Japan but we were only there for less than three years cause of my husband’s work. We didn’t have a lot of money then; he was still starting to develop his business, so we literally had nothing. I was confident I was having a girl and purposely didn't ask the doctor and I … kind of bought only girl stuff?” She covers and giggles.
“And then he tu—turned out to be a boy, huh?” I laugh awkwardly. I don’t really know what to feel about this. But this is big news.
Aunt Yoojin sighed. “I’ve always dreamt of having a daughter. And I already had those clothes ready for him so … I kind of … you know. We also didn’t have a lot of money then and I couldn’t return most of the stuff anymore so, uh,” She giggles in embarrassment. “He was happy with it in the beginning, he loved taking pictures with me but as he grew up, of course, he developed his own preference, and he didn’t like it anymore. So, we just stopped right away. I know it’s messed up, so we never really told anyone, not even Minsoo knows this. You want to keep one?” She takes out one of the baby pictures and hands it to me.
Kyungsoo was probably around two in this picture, and he was wearing a tutu dress. Oh my god. There’s no lying that this is Kyungsoo. Yikes. “I ca—I can keep this? Wouldn’t Kyungsoo be mad if he finds out I know?” I ask.
Aunt Yoojin shrugs. “Well, he’s been very mean to you ever since you moved here, and I feel responsible. He’s not usually like that, he’s … different around you for some reason? Don’t think I don’t see it. I don’t tolerate that even if he’s my son so … it’s just for emergency purposes, you know? I’d love for you two to get along.” She pats my head before standing up, carrying the albums with her. “When you two get along, maybe … he can tutor you, right?” She winks at me before leaving the bedroom.
I stare at the door for quite some time, registering everything that I just found out.
Then, it clicked.
Oh, damn, is she clever?
Author's Note: Holy , Kyungsoo's mother is a badass. But I mean ... Kyungsoo kinds of deserves the upcoming wake up call. Oh and by the way, in case the scenarios were too controversial for woke dudes, I'm just following what happened in the original story. Yall know. So yeah. But it's cute. Don't come at me.