The news had traveled fast, and there was no sign of it dying down anytime soon.
Your name had become a huge sensation that swept throughout campus the last semester of your First Year, though you didn't know how to feel about it. Flattered? Annoyed? Self-conscious? Famous? You weren't sure why everyone was making such a big deal out of it, since you had barely fazed him and came out of the confrontation as the more humiliated one, but maybe it was because you were first one to ever mouth off to the supposedly invincible Kwon Jiyong. Yes, that was his name, as you had come to find out by eavesdropping on the exaggerated stories of your heroism passed from one nosey gossip to the next in your classes. You never saw him after that day, and even though you kept telling yourself it wasn't your fault, you couldn't shrug away the niggling feeling that maybe you had done something direly wrong.
After all, his father owned the damn school.
You comforted yourself in the fact that his minions, Sehun and Luhan, didn't make any move to sneak into your dorm room at night and slit your throat, though Sehun always made your blood run cold each time he regarded you with those icy, emotionless eyes. Luhan was mostly harmless, but his china-doll face always made you feel like roadkill. As much as you'd like to think that you were drop-dead gorgeous, any ounce of self-appreciation is thrown out the window whenever you saw Luhan simply bat his long eyelashes or widen his twinkling bambi eyes at a teacher. You weren't much for ism, but you were sure many a faculty member wanted a piece of him. Female teachers would coo and aww at him, finding any possible way to touch any part of him, while male teachers would lose their train of thought whenever he smiled that divine smile of his that showed off his set of pearly whites. Students were no different, but Sehun would probably snap someone's neck off if they tried anything with him. He was particularly protective of Luhan, to say the least, and the latter certainly never complained about it.
You picked up your pace as you followed the asphalt path back to Azure House from the Grand Library, having returned the last batch of books you had borrowed to plow through over the summer break. Since you would much rather wrestle with carnivorous three-headed sharks in the fiery pits of hell than go back home, you remained on campus for the duration of the six weeks, enjoying the total serenity that came with the departure of rowdy, boisterous students ready for a break from school and from each other. No more obnoxious whispering, no more rumors, no more cautious, albeit marveled glances from curious eyes in the hallways. There were times at night where you had to concede that you missed the steady breathing of your roommate when she was in deep sleep, or heaven forbid, even her horrendous singing sessions in the shower. You loved being in solitude back home without your father's sporadic bouts of drunken rants or the disturbing gurgling sounds he made whilst spewing his guts out over the toilet bowl, having quiet time to fantasize about scenarios at Leauburgh. But now that you were actually here, you found that you liked the company of the people. You missed talking to Kris. You missed Mr. Cho and his humor. You even missed your roommate Yuri, more than you were willing to admit.
But then again now that your Second Year was about to start in a couple of days, you were sure you were going to take back those sentiments as soon as she came back to school from her vacation home in Jamaica. She was a sweetheart, but you could never get her to shut up. You tried bribing her with gummy bears one time to make her keep quiet for the night so you could concentrate on finishing your portion of the joint biology lab write-up with Kris, the common sense that sugar would only make her more of a jittery chatterbox than she already was completely eluding your conscious thought. You had learned your lesson and made it a habit to haul your heavy backpack to the library whenever you had homework to complete, whether Yuri was in the room or not.
As your tennis shoes crunched down on the golden-brown maple leaves blanketing the freshly-cut grass, multiple lights started flickering on in the individual Azure dorm rooms, illuminating the expansive building against the backdrop of the evening sky as it got progressively darker and darker. You arrived at the front entrance and reached into your sweatshirt pocket to grab your ID card, but as you were getting ready to swipe it across the scanner, someone bumped into you from behind and caused you to stumble, your head nearly hitting the hard glass of the door.
You turned around to scowl at the person, only to feel your irritation melt at the sight of a very concerned Kim Jong Dae.
"Oh my God I'm so sorry. I wasn't taking note of where I was going. Are you okay?"
His face was red from exertion, no doubt from an intense practice, and his neck was glistening and slick with sweat. A black sweatband with a Nike swoosh held his fringe back from his face, and as the boys varsity soccer team starter gave you the once over, his eyes lit up in recognition.
"Hey, aren't you the First Year who had that showdown with Kwon Jiyong last year?"
"Props to you for standing your ground. I really respect that. The kid had it coming to him sooner or later," he laughed.
'My voice bloody cracked. Someone hijack a 747 and run me over,' you thought, your mouth feeling drier than wool.
"Don't doubt it," he said as an involuntary yawn stealthily escaped from his mouth. He hastily covered it with his hand. "Woo, sorry about that."
"Am I boring you?"
He shook his head and gestured to his soccer bag. "Coach is killing us with practice these past couple of weeks to get us ready for the season. Usually I'd be passed out in bed by this time."
You smiled, noticing his slightly bloodshot eyes as he hefted his bag up on his broad shoulders. A brief period of silence ensued. Despite the sweat and the muddy soccer apparel, it was bad enough that he was a Fifth Year who looked like a frustratingly attractive Abercrombie model out of a magazine, but having him acknowledge your existence was causing you to have some significant focusing issues.
You had always loved watching soccer games, but could never actually play the sport. After a full season of going to all the home games last year, you had started developing a major fan crush on Kim Jong Dae and his impeccable skills. Yuri thought your fanatic raves about him during your midnight conversations was cute.
"I'll see you around," he finally said, opening the door. You nodded and watched him stroll halfway into the lobby before calling out his full name. He turned around.
"I'm a big fan. But take it easy out there. I don't want you to get hurt," you blurted.
"Thanks. But you should call me Chen in the future."
You swore you heard a thousand angels sing in harmony from the high heavens as you watched him disappear off into the male dorm tower.
It didn't dawn on you that you had actually carried out a semi-coherent conversation with the object of your innocent infatuation until you were standing outside your dorm door. You were never one to get all giddy over trivial things like this but you allowed yourself a moment to be like a schoolgirl and harbor silly, spastic thoughts about a charismatic upperclassman.
"... she hated you the last time I checked," you suddenly heard out of nowhere, realizing a second later that the muffled sound came from inside your room.
"I prefer the word unenlightened. And now that she's piqued my interest, there's no stopping me," a male voice replied. Your first instinct was to walk away, since listening in on others was extremely unclassy and all, but you couldn't help it. Blaming it on the adrenaline rush from your encounter with Chen, you propped your ear closer to the door.
"Leave her alone idiot."
"Yeah right sis. What happened when everyone knew about it?"
The female didn't say anything.
"She didn't even care, which further proves my point," the male continued. "You better help me out or I won't give you your weekly allowance to buy that crap you put on your face anymore."
"What? That's not even fair!"
"What are you gonna do about it? Tell daddy? He's too busy pampering prince ing charming to care about us."
"Don't say that," the girl all but faintly whimpered.
"Stop deluding yourself and face reality."
You heard footsteps, then the doorknob jiggled. Alarmed, you backed away from the door, trying to seem like you were just walking past, but GD already saw you.
"Pleasure to see you again lovely," he said in a considerably lower pitch compared to the last time you guys talked, giving you an uncharacteristically gentle smile before slowly ambling down the hallway, hands stuffed in his acid-wash jeans that hugged the curves of his legs.
You peeked into the room, seeing Yuri collapsed on her bed.
"Yuri?" you said hesitantly, hearing her release an audible sigh. As much as you wanted to run in the room and hug the living daylights out of her because she had come back to school earlier than you expected, you felt like it wasn't the appropriate time to.
"We need to talk," she said, her tone grim as she slowly got up, patting the space beside her for you to sit on.
You walked in and obliged, letting her gather her thoughts before you started attacking her with questions as to why GD was in your room.
"He has his eye on you," she started, fiddling with the heart locket on her necklace.
"I'm presuming you mean the repulsive guy who walked out a minute ago," you joked. She scratched her chin and didn't say anything, staring down at her shoes she had kicked off earlier that were lying on the floor. You immediately stopped smiling.
"Yuri, what is it?"
"My brother wants you to request for a House change. He wants you in Rose."
"What? You mean you share the same blood as this ?"
You should've known. They were both Kwons, and GD did call Yuri sis before he found you creeping by the door.
Yuri grimaced and looked up at you. "He's not that bad if you really get to know him."
You and Yuri avoided talking about the incident like the plague last year. You were plain embarassed and wanted to forget it even happened, especially after rumors started flying, while Yuri detested talking about her brother in such contexts - which is probably why you only know about their relationship more than a year of being roommates with the girl who was supposed to gab about everything that comes to mind without a filter or stop button.
"I'm not following you," you shook you head, narrowing your eyes at her as if she were a moron.
"It's just..." she flared her nostrils, "after what you did last year, he kind of sort of mentioned to me that he liked how you had the balls to go up to him or whatever, especially for a scholarship stu-"
"Hold up. First of all, the level of cliché this is becoming is making my stomach churn. Second of all, if he wanted to discuss something with me, it would be more macho to do it himself instead of blackmailing you and making you seem like the bad guy. And third of all, how the hell do you guys know I'm here on a scholarship?"
Yuri shifted her weight and folded her long legs into a yoga position. "Didn't he tell you that our dad owns the school?"
"How do you know he said that to me?"
"What, is there like a transcript of it or something because that would be hilarious."
Yuri didn't even crack a smile. She obviously didn't find this as amusing as you did.
"Um, what about your dad owning the school?"
"Daddy heard during the school's Board of Directors meeting that a girl in my grade got like, perfect scores on every single test she had to take to come here. He told me, and Jiyong overheard. My brother eventually figured it was you since you were in his advanced math class instead of First Year math."
"Well, that brings me back to square one. Why does he want me in Rose?"
Being the rabid Harry Potter fan that you were, you had come to associate Rose as being the Slytherin to Azure's Gryffindor. They were rival Houses, and anyone seen fraternizing with members of the opposing House were considered traitors. Private schools kids apparently really took this housing thing seriously.
"You should ask him yourself," Yuri said, curling her legs up close to her chest and wrapping her arms around herself. She frowned. "This hurts so much."
You tipped your head to the side, thoroughly worried about her abnormal behavior. "I won't leave you."
"No. I know you won't betray me. My uterus however is crying from yet another disappointing month. Ouchhh," she groaned as another wave of pain hit her lower abdomen.
You laughed. "I'll get you some painkillers princess."
"What would I do without my bestie," Yuri half-winced half-smiled as you got up from the bed.
"You'd die of period cramps. By the way, did I tell you I bumped into Kim Jong Dae downstairs?" you added nonchalantly, totally cool and casual as you stepped into your shared bathroom in search of Paracetamol.
"WHAAAAAAAT?" you heard her screech.
Yup. Things were definitely back to normal again. Just in time for the start of Second Year.
What was it with this school and it's wacked up gender ambiguities - all in Mr. Choi's Third Year Religion class no less?
There was Luhan, the resident pretty boy who made girls wallow in self pity, sitting in the back corner of the room with Sehun, checking himself out once again through his iPhone's camera lens. Those two guys had some serious problems. They must have some magical, uber strong invisble superglue holding them together because where one was, the other had to be there too or the world ceases to spin on it's axis along it's temporarily halted orbit around the sun.
Then there was the new transfer guy, or girl, wait, yeah, girl. Amber, the transfer from America, had a certain aura about her that made other girls stick to her like magnets. Guys in your classes didn't know what to do with her, since she was always parading around school wearing a boys uniform like a rockstar or something, making confused girls swoon over her low voice and suggestive grins. But she posed no real threat to the male population since the future heiresses of the school would never ever pronounce themselves homouals, even if they were. There was too much dignity and family status to take into consideration. You didn't know why administration hasn't done anything about her choice of clothing yet, though maybe her parents had tipped the school off with some generous kerching to let Amber be her androgynous self. You wouldn't be surprised if that was the case, thanks to GD's insider information.
"I'm curious, how many of you can recite John 3:16 for me?" Mr. Choi asked the class after collecting back all the pre-quizzes on Christianity, which you were pretty sure you flunked. You had no stinking clue what any of the questions were asking.
You looked around and saw everyone raising their hands, some enthusiastically, some not so much. But you were the only person who had no idea what Mr. Choi was talking about, and thus kept your hand down. Mr. Choi also seemed to notice and pursed his lips at you.
"Would you care to do us the honor?"
You blinked a couple of times. "Pardon me?"
"John 3:16. I'm assuming you know this like the Lord knows the number of hairs on our heads."
"Uhh, I don't-"
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Mr. Choi turned towards the direction of your savior. "Thank you Hyukjae. But next time, don't interrupt a fellow student."
"Never again Mr. Choi.
The teacher nodded. "Very well. Let's get started with our very first chapter of the unit, Genesis. Everyone flip your bibles open to page 17."
You had resisted the urge to look at this person sitting across the room the entire period, but since he was kind enough to rescue you from an otherwise awkward experience, you finally caught Hyukjae's eye and mouthed a thanks.
His lips formed an uncertain yet sweet smile as he gave you a small nod. Your eyes darted back to the hardcover NIV bible in front of you, upset with the rush of steroid-injected butterflies and their annoying kamikaze flight patterns inside your stomach. You had never experienced this, and even though he had stopped his unnerving stalking routine, you kind of felt... in a freakishly strange way, vulnerable and unsafe whenever you walked around campus late at night without him close by. The little bugger was messing up your sense of perceived safety, and he probably knew it too.
"Yo, do you have a pen I could borrow?" Amber turned around to ask Kris who was sitting beside you.
"Sorry, this is my only one," Kris answered, twisting his pen between his thumb and index finger in the air to show her.
"Oh. Okay, thanks anyway," Amber's face collapsed as she faced the front again, sinking down into her chair.
"Someone has a little crush on you," you whispered into Kris' ear.
He made a sour face at you. "I like someone else."
"Who is this unlucky lady in question?" you teased, copying down the stuff Mr. Choi had written on the whiteboard into your notebook.
"She's way out of my league. She's gorgeous. She's kind. She's funn-"
"Kris, what did God do on the sixth day of creation?" Mr. Choi interrupted, giving him a pointed glare.
"He.. h-he created Adam and Eve sir," Kris answered, stiff in his seat.
"If I catch you talking again during my lecture, you are going directly to the headmaster's office. Do I make myself clear?"
You stifled a laugh. It was probably the first time that Kris has ever been warned by a teacher for misconduct.
"You were saying?" you prodded, tugging at the side of his sweater vest.
"Shhh," he shushed you, swatting your hand away as he kept his eyes trained straight ahead.
You ripped a piece of paper out of your notebook and wrote him a note.
Who's the girl?
A Second Year.
He gazed at it for a long time before writing something down in his signature scrawled handwriting.
The bell to signal the end of class rang.
People started packing up and slinging their blazers and backpacks on as Kris tucked his pen into the top crook of his ear. Hyukjae, flanked by Kai and some other guys, one of whom was called Taemin, yet another gender ambivalent guy with shoulder-length hair as lustrous as silk yet moves smooth enough to land a spot as a backup dancer in a recent Usher music video, walked up to you two and tipped his chin up at Kris.
"Ready to leave?"
"Am I ever. Mr. Choi is such a prick," Kris complained, falling in step with Hyukjae and Kai.
Hyukjae looked at you and it seemed like he was debating whether or not he should say what he was planning to say to you.
"Thanks again for, you know, saving me today," you said, your eyes concentrating on the loose knot of his tie.
He cleared his throat. "No problem. Don't mind Mr. Choi. He's known to be hardcore about religion which is why he's so uptight. If he's willing to send teacher's-pet Kris down to the office, you won't be the only one he's going to put on the spot this year. If you ever need help, I'll be here," he said, fixing and patting down his sideburns again and again.
"To be her knight in shining armor," one guy fake-coughed as the group erupted in laughter.
"Shut up guys," Hyukjae muttered quietly.
"I'll see you later in history nerd," Kris said to you, but moved in closer to whisper something in your ear. "Don't tell anyone about my crush on Yuri okay? If you do I'll kill you."
"Mhmm," you grinned as he led the group out of the room, with Kai and Taemin slyly jostling a meek Hyukjae back and forth between them.
'I'm telling Yuri about Kris tonight when I get back. She's going to flip,' you thought as you packed your bag, getting ready to leave for Chemistry.
"If you were a burger at McDonalds, you'd be McFierce," a voice sounded behind you.
"Sorry, I don't plan on being sold and eaten at a fast food joint anytime soon," you intoned, seeing GD walking around from behind you, Sehun and Luhan following close behind.
"That was a figure of speech," he uttered, just as monotonously.
"I'm leaving," you rolled your eyes, skirting past him to leave.
"Wait up, I need to talk to you," he said, grabbing your arm.
"You should've done that a couple of days ago instead of making Yuri the middleman. And the answer is no. I'm not leaving Azure for Rose. I'm not leaving Yuri," you said, shaking him off.
"Do you even know what's going to happen if you become a Rose? If you ally with me? If you stay by my side? You'll be Queen of this school. Everyone will fear you, respect you, do whatever you tell them to do," he smirked as a Fifth Year entered the classroom with a tray of drinks.
"Jiyong, I got all your drinks ready. A regular espresso for you, a caramel frappé with extra whipped cream for Luhan, and hot chocolate for Sehun. Is there anything else I can get you guys?" he asked.
"Nope, you can take the day off today," GD assured him, taking a sip of his piping hot coffee as he perched on the edge of a desk. Luhan gulped down his frappé, humming with pleasure as the cool, frothy liquid entered his pink little mouth. Sehun smiled.
'Oh my God Sehun just smiled. How is this possible.'
"Really? Thanks!" the student gushed wide-eyed as he scurried out of the classroom.
'Wait, wasn't he one of the star wrestlers of the school?' You furrowed your eyebrows, in awe of how easily and effortlessly GD had him wrapped around his finger, subjecting him to his every whim or command as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
"If you be with me, that is only just the appetizer to what greater power you will hold," GD enticed. "I don't want to fight you. That would be a waste of our precious time. Didn't you yourself say I shouldn't blow it off on pointless things? You should follow your own advice because I promise you, you won't regret it."