All weekend, Kris tried to contact Jungah. However, her phone was off, and she wouldn’t answer. He texted her several times. She wouldn’t reply to them either. *Did she go somewhere? Is she mad at me?* He wanted to check up on her, but he was in Jeju, and wouldn’t be home until late Sunday evening.
Even though it was bothering him insanely, he decided to patiently wait until Monday to see Jungah.
“Here you go, sir. Please sign here.” The employee pointed. Kris did as told.
She handed him the receipt, “There you go, sir. You are officially checked out of Ramada Jeju. Have a good day.” He accepted the receipt, grabbed his suitcase, and exited the hotel.
At the same time, Jungah came out of the Ramada Jeju café and walked across the lobby to the elevators. The elevator doors opened, and she entered. The elevator zipped up towards the 9thfloor.
Jungah came out and headed towards her hotel room that she shared with Zico. Because Jungah had come at the last minute, there had been no spare room fro her. U-Kwon and Jaehyo didn’t like sharing beds, and Kyung pushed Zico and Jungah to become roommates for the week. Therefore, she had no choice but to room with Zico.
Jungah pushed the key into the slot, and the door pinged open. *Did he already leave for the meeting?* Cautiously, she entered the room and looked around. Jungah stopped in her tracks when she saw Zico sitting by the window in the big, comfy armchair.
He was sitting with his long legs stretched across the legrest. His earphones were stuck in his ears, and he was gazing out at the ocean with a melancholy she would never understand. He seemed to be distracted that he didn’t even notice she had come back in the room.
Jungah studied his face. *I wonder what is on his mind lately. He seems happy and normal on the outside, but there’s something off about him.* Jungah tossed her key on her queen bed and walked towards him. A shadow fell over Zico, and that finally got his attention. He looked up to see her gazing down at him. Zico softly smiled at her and pulled one of his earphones out of his ear, “You’re back? How was brunch with U-Kwon, Park Kyung, and B-Bomb hyung?”
“Out of control.” Jungah sat on the edge of his bed with a shrug, “You know how those three are. They don’t know what embarrassment is.”
Zico chuckled. He turned his ipod off and wrapped his earphones around it.
Jungah examined his face. “What were you up to?”
“Just thinking.” Zico vaguely replied.
*About what?* Before she could ask that, there was a knock on their door. Jungah and Zico looked up. Kyung entered the room. He spotted Jungah and grinned, “So this is where you ran off to. Going to tattletale on U-Kwon to the almighty Zico?” Jungah glowered at him.
Zico stood up, “Are you all ready to go?” Kyung shifted his attention to Zico and nodded, “They’re all waiting at the restaurant.” “Araso.” Zico grabbed his wallet and inserted it into his back pocket. He took his phone and card also.
“Later, Jungah.” Kyung left. Jungah followed Zico to the door. “When will you be back?”
He replied, “Not until late tonight. Eat dinner first, okay? You can go to the lobby or order room service. Don’t come out.” *Rooming with you is risky enough. I don’t want anyone from the other side to catch you with me.*
“Oh. Okay.” Her shoulders slumped at the thoguth of eating dinner alone.
Zico opened the door and stopped. He glanced back and noticed the disappointment on her face. “Jungah.”
She looked up.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can. I promise.” Zico swore while looking into her eyes.
Jungah nodded, “Araso.” He gave her a small smile and motioned to her injured arm, “Rest, and take care of that well.” Zico left. With a bored sigh, Jungah sat on her bed and looked around. *Now what do I do alone?* She reached for her phone with her good arm and turned it back on.
There were a total of eight calls, six text messages, and two voice mails from Kris.
Her heart deflated. She wanted to call him. Badly. However, she didn’t know what to tell him. “I broke my arm trying to protect your from being whipped, so you won’t see me at school for a week. Bye-bye.” Although she was cold-hearted, she wasn’t cruel. Jungah tossed her phone on the bed and lay down on her back with her eyes closed. *I should be happy to be here on this beautiful island with Zico. So what is this feeling of trepidation and regret?*
Long after dinner, Zico returned.
Jungah turned the TV off and clambered off the bed. “You’re back. How was, er, business?”
Zico chuckled as he took his watch off, “You never asked me that, but, it went well. Thank you.” He glanced around, “Did you order room service?”
“I ate in the café. I needed some fresh air. I was cooped inside practically the entire day.” Jungah didn’t mean to sound bitter, but Zico felt accountable for her misfortune. “Want to go out?”
She gave him a curious look, “I thought I wasn’t supposed to be seen with you.” “I think the dealers left already. Besides, it’s night. I don’t think they would catch us. And even if they did, I could think of a plan. I always do.” He grinned with a reassuring wink.
“Yeah, okay.” Jungah rolled her eyes. “Come on. Let’s go out. I need a break, too.” Zico headed to the door.
Jungah grabbed her hotel key and followed him. Together they went to the dazzling beach.
The night beach was hauntingly beautiful. The soothing sound of the calm waves comforted both their hearts. No one was out there. It was just the two of them. Zico stretched and deeply breathed in the fresh sea air as much as he could. He gazed out beyond the dark, mysterious horizon and slightly tilted his head in thought. *How great would it be if we could just live here? No one would know us. No one would know of our past.* He turned his head and softly gazed at the girl beside him. *No one could stop us from being together.*
Jungah looked up at him, “What? Why are you staring at me like that?”
Zico shot her a small, crooked smile. “Because you’re pretty, Jungie Jungie~”
Jungah was glad it was dark, or he would have caught her blushing profusely. “D-don’t be stupid.” She muttered and walked away.
Zico watched her leave his side and shifted his gaze up to the sky. “I know, I know, umma. I will keep my promise.”
“Are you talking to yourself now?” Jungah asked from afar.
Zico looked back down at her and smiled.
She bent down and dipped her finger in the cold sea water. He walked over and stooped down next to her.
Zico took a stick and started to draw random shapes on the sand. He peeked at her arm, “How is it?”
“How is what?” Jungah looked at him. He nodded at her wound, “Your arm.” She shrugged, “The same. Broken and useless.” Zico shook his head, “You need to be more careful, Jungah. No more fights. At least…don’t get caught. If you get suspended one more time, you’ll be expelled. And at this time of the semester, no other school will accept you. You don’t want to repeat senior year again, do you?”
“Hell no.” Jungah stated.
“See? So control your temper. If I can graduate senior year in one try, so can you.” Zico lightly clapped her back.
She flinched and growled, “Ow, Woo Jiho. My arm.” “Oops, my bad.” He chuckled.
Jungah shook her head. She glanced at Zico’s random drawings. “You at art.”
“Meanie-poo.” Zico pouted. He lit up, took the stick, and began to write something. Curious, Jungah drew closer. She read each word as it formed. Han Jungah neomu yeppo~
Zico gave her a triumphant smile. Jungah arched an eyebrow. *Seriously?* With pressed lips, she grabbed the stick and scribbled the words so it became nothing but plain sand again.
Zico chuckled. He wrote something else over the sand. *What now?* She wondered, piqued.
Han Jungah and Woo Jiho forever.
Her expression softened. Slowly, she moved her gaze up towards his face. Zico’s eyes were soft and gentle, as well. “I want to ask you something, Jungah.” She waited for him to continue. “…Are you sick of me?” Zico asked.
“Muh?” Jungah asked, shocked by the question.
“Are you tired of me being in your life? I know I annoy you sometimes…scratch that, most of the time,” Zico chuckled, but his smile faded as he thought about the possibility of being a bother to the girl he loved. “But do you not want me in your life anymore?” Her heart dropped like an anvil. *Why is he asking me this question now? What is his purpose?! Is he going to leave me?!*
Jungah shot up, “What the hell, Woo Jiho! Why are you asking me this right now?! What brought this stupid question on?!”
Zico half-heartedly shrugged, “I was just thinking that I might be doing more harm than good in your life.” He swallowed hard with his gaze focused on the wet sand in front of him.
“You are so ing ridiculous, do you know that?” Jungah spat.
“So I’m right.” Zico looked up at her.
Jungah rolled her eyes, “No, you idiot! You’re damn wrong!” She grabbed his arm with her good arm and looked straight into his eyes, “You know what you mean to me, Zico. You’re the reason that I’m able to survive. I lost both my parents. I could’ve gone to the orphanage, but you took me in. You kept a roof over my head, fed me, and clothed me all these years.” “So you’re using me.” He chuckled.
Jungah didn’t laugh with him. Her face was a mask of seriousness. “I can’t live without you, Zico. You out of all people should know that.” His expression softened, “I do. I just…needed a reminder.”
“Fool.” Jungah snorted. She released him and gave him a sharp, threatening look, “If you ever think of something as ludicrous as this again, I will hunt you down.”
“How? Your arm is broken. Mehrong~” Zico stuck his tongue out.
“Oh, grow up.” Jungah gave him a little shove and walked away.
Zico’s expression turned tender after she left. He picked up the stick from the ground and started to write something in the sand again. Finished, he straightened up and admired his meaningful words. “Are you coming?” Jungah called. “Yeah, I am!” Zico glanced one last time at the five words on the ground and followed her.
On the wet sand, it was engraved: Han Jungah, I love you.
Zico and Jungah came back to their hotel room.
“I’m going to take a shower, so no peeking!” He wagged his finger. She turned red, “I’m not you!”
Snickering, Zico took his bag of toiletry and change of clothes and went into the restroom. Jungah heard the door lock close and rolled her eyes. *I’m not a . Stupid Woo Jiho.* She shook her head, settled back against the headboard on her bed, and turned the television on.
Half an hour later, Zico came back out of the restroom. “I’m all clean! You can peek now!” He cut short when he saw Jungah asleep on her bed. Her head was slumped forwards, and her body was slouching in an uncomfortable position. *Aigoo, Han Jungah.* Zico walked over and slipped his arms beneath her. He laid her down on her back and lifted her head up to put the pillow beneath it. Zico took the blanket and pulled it over her. He was careful not to touch her wounded arm. He treated it as if it was glass.
As carefully as possible, he took her delicate, casted arm and laid it on top of the blanket.
*There.* Zico exhaled in relief. He took the remote control and turned the TV off.
Silence blanketed the room. Zico gazed down at Jungah.
It had been a while since he had seen her sleep. He sat on the edge of her bed and just watched her. It felt exhilarating to be by her side in the comfort security of a hotel room that was nowhere near their home. No one would be watching him. He could admire her as much as he wanted to.
Zico reached out and tenderly d her cheek. *I’m happy to be by your side, Jungah. I’m even happier knowing that you want me by your side, too. Now that I know you’ll always want me in your life no matter what, I feel better. The idea of you being in love with another man isn’t so daunting anymore.* Zico picked up her left arm and softly kissed her knuckles.
There was a gentle tap on the door. He placed her hand back down and glanced back, “Who is it?”
The door opened, and Kyung entered, “Me.” He perceived that Jungah was asleep. “In bed already?”
“It’s almost midnight. You should be sleeping, too.” Zico stood up.
“I wanted to know if you wanted to get a drink at the bar.” Kyung said.
Zico glanced down at Jungah. He didn’t want to leave her sleeping alone in a foreign place. “Maybe next time.”
Kyung glanced at Jungah then looked up at his best friend, “Just go for it, Zico.”
“Go for what?” Zico looked at him. “For her.” Kyung nodded at Jungah.
Zico dodged Kyung’s accusing eyes, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He walked to his side of the room.
“Oh, come on, Woo Jiho. It’s so freaking obvious besides to you two.” Kyung walked over to him. “I know why you brought her here in the first place.”
“Because she was suspended.” Zico casually folded his jacket.
“Bull. It’s because you didn’t want her anywhere near that transfer kid.” Kyung stated.
Zico grew immobile. His eyes rounded in surprise. He had been caught by his best friend.
“You’re in love with her, Woo Jiho.” Kyung declared.
Zico whirled around and lowly hissed, “Keep your voice down. If she wakes up, it’s over.”
“What’s over? Nothing even began between you two. If you keep it up like this, nothing ever will.” Kyung said.
Zico anxiously looked away. *Her safety will be over. Her normal life will be over. My promise to her mother will be over.*
“You have to confess to her, Jiho.” Kyung gently advised. “I can’t!” Zico snapped.
“You can’t, or you won’t?” Kyung studied his eyes.
Zico looked away in fear of having his true emotions caught.
Yet, Kyung knew already. He placed his hand on Zico’s taut shoulder, “Get her heart, Woo Jiho. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Once she goes to another man, it’ll be too late to do anything.” Kyung dropped his voice another level, “I know there are many obstacles for you and Jungah. But you both can overcome them. Jungah and you are the strongest people I know. For once, be selfish, and do what your heart wants. It’s okay.” He squeezed Zico’s shoulder and left.
Zico sank onto the armchair and wretchedly ran his fingers through his thick hair. *No, it’s not okay. I can’t put my wants before her needs. I want to be with her so damn badly. But I can’t. I will not drag her down to hell with me. One of us suffering is enough. It’s best this way. I’m okay. I really am.* He lifted his head up and gazed at Jungah’s sleeping figure. *As long as she’s happy, I’m fine. I’ll do anything to keep her safe and happy. Anything. Even sacrifice my own happiness.*