It has been two weeks since JR kissed me. He hasn’t tried to do anything since and I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. I thought that maybe he liked me but now that he has been acting like he used to, I get confused. Does he really have feelings for me or is he just playing around? I don’t know and I’m really curious to know the answer but I can’t bring myself to ask him. Maybe I’m afraid he is going to say that it wasn’t anything special. Then I would rather just not know the truth. And when I’m this insecure I should probably keep my distance and wait. See what he does and then act according to that. But the last two weeks I have done the exact opposite. Instead of keeping my distance I have barely left his side. I have been to his room a lot, watched him practice and sat next to him during lunch. I have also forced a lot of skinship on him. I have back hugged him a lot. The first few times he tried to shake me off but I stuck like a tick. When he realized he couldn’t shake me off he kind of just gave up and now he doesn’t really mind anymore. I guess you can get used to anything with time. By now he probably really regrets kissing me. And I know I should stop acting like this but I just can’t. With every passing day my feelings for him get stronger and I just can’t fight it. And maybe I don’t even want to.
When my last class ends I start packing up my things. Then I hear someone call my name and I look up to see Aron by the door. I smile, throw my bag over my shoulder and hurry over to him.
“Ready to hit the library and study?” he asks and I nod. “No dates today?” I ask as we start walking. “I have but I’m free for the next hour,” he says and smiles. “And you decided to spend your precious time with me. I’m honored,” I say and he smirks. “Well since you’re special and all,” he says and winks. “Shut up,” I say and he laughs.
We sit down by a table in the far corner of the library. I get my books and start doing my homework while Aron does his. After about fifteen minutes he’s done and starts playing around on his chair.
“Could you please not,” I say without looking up from the book. “I’m bored,” he says but at least he stops playing with his chair. “Then find some more quiet entertainment,” I suggest and write down some notes. “Fine. Then I’ll just talk to you,” he says and I sigh. “That’s not exactly quiet entertainment.”
“I got a question for you,” he says and acts like he didn’t hear me. “Whatever it is I’m not interested,” I say and turn a page in the book. “What’s going on between you and JR?” Aron asks and I stop moving. Didn’t see that one coming. “Are you like.. together?” Aron asks and I bite my lip. I turn my head and look at him.
“No. No we’re not,” I say and I sound a little down about that fact. “Then what’s going on between you?” he asks and I frown slightly. “What do you mean?”
“It’s obvious that you mean something to JR and that he means something to you,” Aron says and I look away. “What makes you think that?”
“Well the most shocking one is that he doesn’t mind skinship with you even though he normally hates it,” Aron explains and I scoff. “That’s because I force it on him,” I say and Aron chuckles. “JR is a boxer. If he wanted to push you away he could easily do it and you know that,” he says and I look at him. “I didn’t really think about that,” I mumble and Aron smiles. “The fact that he lets you back hug him means that you are special to him. And if he at one point is the one who wants skinship with you then he has definitely fallen in love with you,” Aron says and pats my shoulder, “and there is also something else that tells me you are special to JR.”
“What’s that?” I ask and can’t hide my curiosity. “The fact that he allows you to call him Jonghyun,” Aron says and I raise an eyebrow, “normally if anyone, except his parents, calls him by his real name he gets mad. But he never got mad at you or asked you to stop calling him Jonghyun. He won’t even allow his friends to call him by his real name and his teacher can’t call him Jonghyun either. Besides his family, you are the only one that can.”
My eyes widen as I look at Aron with a shocked expression. I didn’t know that JR felt like that. I just call him Jonghyun without knowing it was something special. I remember he was kind of surprised the first time I called him by his name but he never asked me to stop calling him Jonghyun. What could that mean?
“But it’s obvious that JR means something special to you too,” Aron says and I bite my lip, “the way you look at him is different from how you look at the rest of us. And you stick to his side all the time and you smile more when he is around. His insults don’t even affect you. You like him don’t you?”
I gaze at my hands and feel my face turning red. “Don’t tell anyone,” I whisper and look at him out of the corner of my eye. Aron smiles widely and says that he will keep my secret. “But I keep wondering about something. Why do you like him? I mean he doesn’t exactly treat you well so why have you fallen in love with someone like him?”
I smile shyly and shrug. “I have asked myself the same question multiple times. Why would I fall in love with someone who ignores me and insults me? It just doesn’t make any sense. He always pisses me off and I want to slap him sometimes. But still I can’t stop thinking about him, wanting to be next to him and I always find myself looking at him. It’s confusing and frustrating but still I can’t stop.”
Aron also shrugs and says: “God works in mysterious ways.”
“I’m a Buddhist.”
“Oh,” Aron says and smiles awkwardly. Then he looks at his watch and says he has to go because of his date. I don’t know if he’s running away from our conversation or if he really has to leave for his date. And it doesn’t really matter anyway. He quickly leaves and I decide to stay but not to study. Instead I pull a book out from my bag and open it. It’s a book about the basics of sign language. I have been reading in it for the last week and already feel like I have most of the basics covered. Though I’m far from being able to have a conversation at least I’m slowly starting to understand.
I have been reading for a couple of minutes when suddenly someone sits down next to me. I can’t imagine who would come all the way back here so I look up to find out who it is. My eyes widen when I see it’s JR. He’s wearing headphones and that means he won’t listen or speak to me. He just puts his books on the table and starts doing his homework. I have no idea what he’s doing here because he never does his homework at school and never at this time of day either. But even if I ask I know he won’t answer. So I just continue reading in my book and smile to myself. No matter what the reason is, he is here. And that’s all that matters to me. But because he’s here some of the girls that normally follow him around have also come. They sit down by the table next to ours and start whispering while looking at us. I try to ignore them but then suddenly one of them starts speaking very loudly.
“Look who has followed JR around again,” she says and speaks loudly on purpose so I can hear her. “She even follows him to the library and pretends to be studying just to be next to him. How pathetic,” another girl says and they all laugh. I bite my lip and do my best to ignore them but still their words hurt me. No matter how many times I experience this it never gets any easier. They continue to talk trash about me and I do my best to shut them out but I can’t. Then suddenly I feel something slide down the side of my head and cover my ears. Then music suddenly starts playing and it drowns out the girls’ voices. I turn my head and look at JR. He’s no longer wearing his headphones and I realize he put them on me. Did he not listen to music and heard the girls’ conversation about me? Did he do it so I wouldn’t be able to hear them? I continue to gaze at him but he doesn’t look up from his book. I smile and poke his arm to get his attention. It takes a while before he finally looks at me. I use sign language to say thank you. He smiles slightly and says no problem also with sign language. So he did do it to be nice to me after all. My smile widens and JR’s attention returns to his homework. I also look at my book but I can’t seem to focus. All I can think about is JR so close to me. It’s so tempting to reach out and touch him. But I never do that while we’re on school campus. Rumors are already bad enough as it is and I don’t need to make it worse. Still I can’t help myself and reach under the table to lightly touch the back of his hand. I don’t hold it, I just touch it very briefly and then place my hand in my own lap. I don’t look at him to see his reaction and he doesn’t do anything. I didn’t expect anything either. But somehow I feel closer to him. Just a light touch like that can send a shiver through my entire body. I don’t need much and won’t ask for anything. As long as he doesn’t push me away too much I won’t ask for him to love me. I will just love him on my own till the day my feelings die out or someone else catches my attention. I know it will probably be painful and that I will maybe even regret it. But what can I do? I fell in love with someone who sees me as a nuisance and it’s my own fault for sticking to him while I should let go. I don’t believe in God but Aron’s words make sense if I change them a bit. Love works in mysterious ways. And it is as they say; the heart wants what it wants. And right now my heart wants JR.
That night I’m sitting alone on a bench in the garden. JR went to bed early so I can’t bother him and as always Aron is out with some girl. I’m not sure about Minhyun but he’s probably doing his homework. My homework is done and there’s nothing to watch on TV. Maybe I should just go to bed as well. Just as I’m about to get up to go inside, Minhyun comes out from the house.
“Heejin do you have a minute?” he asks and starts towards me. “Sure,” I say and sit back down on the bench. Minhyun sits down next to me and he seems nervous. He’s twisting his hands and doesn’t look at me.
“Is something wrong?” I ask and Minhyun shakes his head. “I just have to tell you something that makes me nervous,” he says in a subdued voice and I frown. “Well how bad can it be?” I ask and he chuckles nervously. “That depends,” he says and finally turns his head to look at me. “Can you promise me something?” he asks and I nod without hesitating. “Anything,” I say and Minhyun takes a deep breath. “Don’t get mad at me,” he says and I look at him confused. He looks me in the eye for a couple of seconds without doing or saying anything. Then he leans forward and presses his lips against mine. My eyes widen and as a reflex I immediately pull away from him and break the kiss.
“Minhyun-ah…” I whisper and cover my mouth with my hand. “I like you, Heejin,” Minhyun says and doesn’t even give me a chance to recover from the kiss before he drops another bomb, “I have liked you for some time now but never had the courage to tell you. But then today Aron told me that you like JR and I have to stop that.”
I frown and lower my hand from my mouth. “Stop what?” I ask confused. “You can’t like JR. Anyone but JR,” Minhyun says and I have never seen him so serious before. “Why? What’s wrong with JR?”
“Till now he has treated you very badly and bullied you. Even though he treats you better now he still isn’t nice to you. There is no way he can ever make you happy. Even if he falls in love with you he can’t give you what you deserve,” Minhyun says and touches my face with his fingertips, “so please, Heejin. Forget about him. The one who will get hurt in the end is you. ‘Cause you will never be happy if you continue to like him.”
I look at Minhyun without saying anything or changing my facial expression. Then I remove his hand and take a deep breath.
“It’s not like I can control my feelings. Just because you tell me to stop liking him it doesn’t mean I can or even will do it,” I say and Minhyun frowns. “You want to continue to like him?” he asks and I nod. “I don’t mind liking him. I don’t mind that he bullies me or ignores me. I can accept him even when he pushes me away. Because I think my love can change him.”
Minhyun bites his lip and looks at me with a determined expression. “No matter what you say I won’t allow it. I refuse to see you get hurt while JR can just walk away unharmed. I will fight for you. Whether you want it or not,” he says and stands up. “How are you going to stop my heart from going to JR?” I ask and for the first time since Minhyun came out here, he smiles. “As we say in the world of basketball; Attack is the best defense.”
Then he walks past me and continues inside the house. I’m not quite sure what he means by that, but I don’t have a good feeling about this.