My parents come home for lunch on Sunday and Aron and Minhyun aren’t here yet. My mom instantly starts making lunch for JR and me. While waiting at the table I can’t stop looking at JR out of the corner of my eye. Since yesterday I have been replaying the kiss inside my head and I smile like an idiot every time. Just like I do now, just thinking about the kiss.
“Don’t your cheeks hurt from all that smiling?” JR asks and I shake my head. “Do you want me to stop smiling?” I ask and he bites his lip. “… No,” he says and looks at his hands in his lap. I smile even wider and I have a strong urge to take his hand. But I keep calm and keep my hands in my own lap.
Just then my mom enters with our lunch. We each get a bowl with fruit as well. I realize there are slices of tomato in there and I look at JR. He has seen it too. As soon as my mom turns around I quickly reach over JR and eat his slices of tomato. Then I lean back in my own chair just as my mom turns around and sits down. JR looks at me with a surprised expression. But it soon turns into gratitude and he starts eating. He quickly finishes and thanks my mom for the food. Then he leaves the table and I take two quick mouthfuls and then follow him. He walks to his room and I hesitate on the doorstep. I’m not quite sure how to act around him. I don’t know what our relationship is at the moment. I don’t even know what JR feels about me. He didn’t say anything after the kiss and he hasn’t explained why he kissed me, not just once, but twice. I can’t bring myself to ask him because I feel a little embarrassed by it. And I’m afraid that he’ll tell me he’s just playing with me and that he’s not serious about me. All that is going through my mind while he seems unaffected. Am I the only one losing my mind?
“Are you gonna come in or not?” JR asks and brings me back to reality. “Is it okay for me to come in?” I ask and JR scoffs. “You’ve never asked for permission before,” he says and I bite my lower lip. “Well, it’s different now,” I mumble but it’s loud enough for him to hear. He turns around and looks at me. Then he comes over and gazes at my face. He leans closer and I swallow. I look at him with wide eyes and wait for his next move. My heart is beating like crazy because I expect him to kiss me again. But then he smirks and leans back.
“I guess my kiss really has affected you a lot,” he says and turns away from me. I guess I really am the only one affected by what happened between us.
“Why did you do it?” I ask and steps into his room. “Why I kissed you?” he says and sits down on the edge of his bed, “I don’t know. Why do you think I did it?”
I look at him without saying anything for a long while. Then I breathe out and try to fight back the tears.
“Why are you shaking my heart?”
JR looks surprised because of my question. He doesn’t say anything and just continues to look at me. “First you kiss me and then acts like nothing happened. Then you kiss me again and you’re about to do the exact same thing! If you like me then tell me, and if you don’t then stop confusing me!” I say and the tears start running down my face, “can’t you see how much I like you? Can’t you see how much your behavior affects me?”
JR’s expression doesn’t change as he gets up from his bed. “I keep asking myself, why you? Of all people why does it have to be you?” I say and he steps closer. “Heejin…” he says in a subdued voice and stops in front of me. “Why do you have to make my heart flutter when you say my name? Why do I feel butterflies in my stomach when you touch me? And why does my heartbeat go crazy whenever you look into my eyes?” I ask as more tears run down my face, “why do I have to love you?”
JR cups my face and gently kisses my forehead. “I hate myself for having no control over my feelings and I hate you for making me love you.”
He still doesn’t say anything and just puts his arms around me. He holds me close and I hide my face by his shoulder.
“I hate you, but I love you,” I whisper and JR strokes my hair. “I know,” he then whispers and I sniffle, “look, I’m sorry. I know I haven’t been handling this very well and ended up hurting you. I’m sorry.”
I sniffle again and clench his t-shirt. “I didn’t expect you to apologize. That’s so unlike you,” I say in a husky voice and he snorts. “I know right. I also feel a little awkward, but I think you need to know this,” he says and hesitates for a while, “I’ve known about your feelings for quite a while, but I acted like I didn’t. I’m more aware of you than you know, but I always act like I don’t care. I honestly don’t understand what you see in me.”
“Me neither,” I admit and can’t help but smile wryly. “But even though I treated you badly, you still held onto me. I bullied you, insulted you and pushed you away. But despite all that you never left my side. And back then I guess that somewhere deep down, I was happy you stayed.”
I lean my head back a little so I can see his face. “What I’m trying to say is… thank you. Thank you for not giving up on me and staying by my side. Even though I really don’t understand why you would.”
I probably wasn’t easy for JR, who never says sorry or thank you, to tell me this.
“Wow. An apology and a thank you. I’m impressed,” I say and he grimaces. “Shut up,” he says and lets go of me. “So is it okay for me to like you and stay by your side?” I ask and JR turns away from me. “Sure. Why not,” he mumbles and I smile, “just promise me you won’t look at other boys. Or I might end up getting into a fight.”
I chuckle and even though it’s no love confession, I know it’s his way of telling me he likes me. “Jonghyun-ah,” I say and he looks at me over his shoulder, “from now on I’ll take care of you and be there for you whenever you need me.”
He looks at me for a long while without saying anything. Then he smirks and turns around to face me.
“Take good care of me then,” he says and walks past me. I smile widely and look after him as he leaves the room. I think I just got a boyfriend.
All day in school the next day, JR doesn’t act more affectionate towards me. He doesn’t show that our relationship has changed and I think it’s a good thing. I’m not ready for the whole school to know JR and I are dating. All hell will break loose and I might not make it home in one piece. But because we both keep quiet about it, I manage to make it through the day, and after school Baekho suggests that we all hang out for a bit in the park nearby. Everyone agrees and when we reach the park I sit down next to a tree. I lean against the trunk and relax while I watch the boys play around with a soccer ball. Just then JR comes over and looks at me with his head tilted slightly. He smirks and then lies down next to me with his head in my lap. My eyes widen and my whole body becomes tense. What is he doing!? He seems carefree as he lies there with closed eyes and relaxes. Is he really okay with his friends seeing this? Because I’m not sure I’m okay with it. I hear footsteps in the grass coming our way and I look up. Minhyun is walking towards JR and I. His face doesn’t look pleased at all. He stops in front of us and looks at JR.
“JR what are you doing?” he asks with a trembling voice as if he’s trying to suppress anger. “What does it look like I’m doing?” JR asks and I wish that he for once wouldn’t be provocative. Minhyun looks pissed enough already.
“Let me ask you another question then. What is your head doing in Heejin’s lap?” Minhyun asks and JR opens his eyes. He glances at Minhyun and smirks.
“What’s wrong with that? Can’t I rest my head in my girlfriend’s lap?” JR asks nonchalantly and I gasp. I would normally be really happy to hear him call me his girlfriend, but I don’t think this is the best situation for that announcement. Minhyun clenches his fist and he squints.
“Your what?” he growls and I’m getting a bit nervous. I’m afraid of what Minhyun will do. And even worse, what JR will end up doing. Worst case scenario is that these two close friends end up fighting. And that’s the last thing I want.
JR looks a bit bothered by Minhyun’s tone and he raises an eyebrow.
“What is it to you who I date?” JR asks and he looks less carefree now. “Because it’s Heejin,” Minhyun says and looks at me for the first time since he came over, “I wouldn’t care who you dated if it had been someone else. But because it’s Heejin I care. And why does it have to be her. Of all people why do you have to date her?”
JR sits up and frowns. “Why do you care so much? If I didn’t know better I would think you’re in love with her.”
Minhyun doesn’t take his eyes off of me when he speaks. “I am,” he says and I swallow. I fear how JR will react to Minhyun’s confession. Minhyun turns his attention to JR.
“I’m in love with Heejin and I won’t accept you dating her,” he says and JR’s jaw tenses, “from day one you have treated her badly and I doubt you will change. You can walk away unharmed while Heejin’s the one who will get hurt in the end. I won’t just stay passive and watch that happen. I won’t.”
JR gets up and looks at Minhyun with a nonchalant expression. Then out of nothing JR punches Minhyun in the face so he stumbles backwards. I gasp and cover my mouth with both my hands. JR steps forward and it looks like he’s about to punch Minhyun again. I quickly get up and stand in front of JR. I put my arms around him and hold him back.
“Don’t,” I whisper and I can feel how JR is slowly calming down. Minhyun has gotten over the fact that he was punched and now looks like he wants revenge. But luckily the others hold him back and they all look very confused.
“What’s going on?” Ren asks and looks at all three of us. I let go of JR and stand next to him with my head lowered.
“JR and Heejin are dating,” Minhyun says and the others look surprised, “I said I was against it and then JR punched me.”
Everyone is silent for a few seconds and then Aron speaks. “Why are you against it?”
Minhyun looks at me and his expression softens. “Because I like her. I don’t want to see her get hurt because of JR,” he says and I clench my fists. How did things get so out of control and messed up? All I wanted was to get along with everyone. And now this happened.
Before anyone else has time to react to the news, Ren steps forward and slaps me really hard. I cover my burning cheek with my hand and look at him with shock.
“I knew it,” he says and his eyes are almost burning with hatred, “from the moment I saw you I knew you would ruin everything! I should have made you stay away from the beginning! It’s all your fault!”
My stomach tightens and I feel tears in my eyes. He’s right. He’s absolutely right. It’s all my fault. I look at all five of them and even start to feel hatred towards myself. Everything would be fine between them if they had never become friends with me. It’s all my fault that they’re fighting and maybe they’ll never be able to get over this. Maybe they can never be friends again. I ruined everything.
As the tears start falling, I turn around and start running. I can hear them call my name but I ignore it. I just need to get away. Away from it all.