I keep running with tears running down my face and I have no idea where I’m going. I’m just running. I don’t how far I’ve made it before someone catches up to me and grabs my arm. I try to hide my face and I bite my tongue to keep a sob down.
“You don’t have to hide from me,” says a very familiar voice and I turn my head slightly. JR is standing by my side and holds onto my arm. I can’t even look him in the eye. Because of me there’s a fight going on between him and his friends, but still he followed me instead of making up with Minhyun. I need to send him back. He needs to talk this through with his friends, so he doesn’t lose them.
“I’m not going back there. You need me more than they do,” he says, as if he read my mind and I turn towards him. “But they’re your friends,” I say with a trembling voice. “And you’re my girlfriend. So shut up and come here,” he says and then opens up his arms. He invites me in for comfort and I can’t turn it down. Without hesitation I step into his embrace and lean my head against his chest. He gently rubs my back and I calm down.
“Can you promise me something?” he says and I nod, “don’t blame yourself.”
He knows me better than I expected. He knows I feel guilty because of what happened. But then he should also know that it actually is my fault and that I can’t help but blame myself.
“I can’t promise that,” I mumble and he sighs. “What do I do with you?” he whispers and hugs me tighter. We’re quiet for a while before I speak again.
“What are you gonna do?” I ask and JR shrugs. “I’ll think about that later,” he says and I frown. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“Right now I don’t really care,” he says and leans back so he can see my face, “I’ll deal with it when we get home.”
“And this hasn’t affected our… relationship?” I ask a bit more shyly and JR smirks. “No. It hasn’t.”
Then I grab one of his hands and bite his wrist so it leaves a mark. He looks surprised and very confused.
“You’re mine. I marked you,” I say and show him his own wrist. He shakes his head and strokes my hair with his other hand.
“Pabo,” he says and I smile slightly, “let’s go home.”
We take the longest route home, to win as much time as possible, before we have to be confronted with Minhyun and Aron. We don’t talk on the way, and just walk hand in hand. It’s nice having him by my side, and holding his hand is a constant reminder that he actually is right next to me. I can touch him. I can hold on to him. And I can call him mine. I never imagined being able to do that. Even though everything is a bit messy right now, at least we have each other. That’s better than nothing.
When we finally reach home and step inside, I hear someone walk around in the living room. They have been waiting for us. I look at JR but his face is expressionless and I can’t figure out what he’s thinking. I let him go first and then follow close behind him. We reach the living room and I’m surprised to see only my mom and Aron sitting on the couch. My mom smiles when she sees us, while Aron just looks concerned.
“He’s upstairs in his room,” Aron says and JR immediately walks to the stairs. I follow him to Minhyun’s room and then JR steps aside. He probably thinks it’s best if I go in first. He punched Minhyun in the face after all. I try to open the door but it’s locked. I knock and wait for an answer, but it’s completely silent on the other side.
“Minhyun-ah. Hwang Minhyun,” I say and knock again. Still no answer.
“Minhyun open the door,” I say but there’s no reaction. I look at JR and he gently pushes me aside. Then he knocks on the door, more violently than me, and calls Minhyun’s name.
“Yah, sekiya! Open up right now or I’ll force my way in!” he says and even kicks the door to show that he’s serious. Just then music starts playing in Minhyun’s room and it’s really loud. He’s obviously telling us that he doesn’t want to listen. I sigh and turn away from the door.
“Your mom will throw a fit if I break down the door right?” he says and I nod. JR shrugs and kicks the door again before he turns around.
“We can try again tomorrow,” I suggest but JR doesn’t respond. He just walks to his room and closes the door. I look at Minhyun’s door and sigh again before I walk away.
The next morning, when I come down to eat breakfast, my mom tells me that Minhyun already left. I wonder if he left early on purpose so he could avoid JR and me. And since we’re not in the same class, I won’t have an excuse to see him before lunch. I just hope he’s not going to run away again.
I can also see how awkward Aron feels in the middle of all this. He can’t choose a side between two of his best friends but he doesn’t want to just stand by and watch either. He just hopes this will pass, like everyone else. Because this tension is ruining all of us.
When it’s time for lunch, I sit down by our usual table and wait for the others. But lunch turns out to be a lot more complicated than I expected. Ren and Baekho are the first to arrive. But instead of sitting down with me, Ren drags Baekho to the table furthest away from where I’m sitting. I didn’t exactly expect him to have forgiven me over night, but doing this still hurts me a little. He could at least have chosen a table closer to me.
Then JR arrives with Aron just behind him. JR sits down next to me like any other day, while Aron is a little hesitant.
“If you feel uncomfortable eating with us, you don’t have to,” I say but he shakes his head and finally sits down. “It’s not like you’ve done anything wrong. You didn’t ask for Minhyun to fall in love with you or for JR to handle Minhyun’s confession like he did.”
“Still, this all happened because of me,” I say and JR snorts. “A little narcissistic are we?” he says and I roll my eyes. “Just shut up and eat your food,” I say and Aron raises an eyebrow. “You two are the weirdest couple ever.”
“We know,” JR and I say simultaneously. Aron shakes his head but doesn’t comment on it.
The last to arrive is Minhyun. He looks around in the cafeteria and when he spots me, he turns around and leaves. I sigh and run a hand through my hair.
“Don’t let it bother you. He’s just acting childish,” JR says without looking up. “I need to talk to him,” I say and am about to get up when JR grabs my arm. “Leave him be. He’ll come around eventually,” he says and I bite my lip while I look after Minhyun. But in the end I sit back down and look at my lunch. I’ve lost my appetite.
Two days pass like this. Minhyun continues to avoid JR and me. You would think it hard to avoid two people that you live with and go to school with, but he manages to pull it off. I practically haven’t seen him in two days now, and 48 hours have never felt so long. During that time Minhyun has never left my mind. I keep wondering what he’s thinking and what I should say to him when he’ll finally speak to me again. How can I make it up to him?
I’m sitting outside in the garden and sigh for the probably 100th time. I probably look quite pathetic, but I don’t care. No one’s around anyway. But then I hear the door open then close and footsteps coming towards me. I don’t know who to expect, but I’m very surprised when Minhyun sits down next to me. I just stare at him and don’t even know what to say. But I’m sure he came out here to tell me something, so I’ll just wait for him to start talking.
“Are you mad at me?” he asks and I raise an eyebrow. That wasn’t the question I had expected.
“Why would I be?” I ask and he lowers his head. “Because of the way I acted towards you and JR. You know I was just jealous right?” he says and I look away, “the problem isn’t really that I don’t think JR will treat you well. It’s a part of the reason, but not all of it. I got mad because… because I know you could have been mine…”
He grabs my chin and turns my head so he can look me in the eye. “I stayed away and ignored you to make you realize something,” he says and I frown. “Realize what?”
Minhyun gently puts his hand on my cheek and looks into my eyes. My breathing gets labored and I don’t know if I wanna hear anymore. But on the other hand I know we need to talk this through. He needs to get some things off his chest, and I need to hear them.
“That you care about me,” he says in a subdued voice. I look into his eyes and swallow before I talk.
“I already know that,” I say and now it’s his turn to frown, “I know that I care about you. I care a lot. But not in the way you’re hoping for I’m afraid.”
“But you could,” he says optimistically, “you liked me once and you can do it again.”
I bite my lip and exhale through my nose. “I don’t think that’s possible,” I say and remove his hand from my cheek. I look at his hand to avoid meeting his eyes.
“It’s true that I liked you once, but that’s a year ago and a lot has changed since then. And what I feel for JR is not something that will just go away. I’m sorry, Minhyun.”
I raise my gaze a little to look at Minhyun’s face. He smiles restrained and shakes his head.
“Don’t feel sorry. There’s no reason for you to feel sorry. People don’t choose who they fall in love with and you can’t change your feelings just because you want to,” he says and then takes a deep breath, “I just wish I had gotten to know you better a year ago when you had feelings for me. Then things might have turned out different.”
I smile wryly and gently squeeze the hand I’m still holding. “It might have. I know you would’ve been the perfect boyfriend and I would have definitely been happy with you. But things didn’t go that way and it’s no use imagining how things could have turned out. Because no one can know that for sure and you’ll just drive yourself crazy with all the ‘what ifs’.”
He nods and lowers his gaze. “I guess you’re right. It won’t change anything anyway,” he mumbles and pulls his hand out of my grip, “but I want you to know something.”
He gets up and looks down at me. “Just because you’re with JR right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a change of heart.”
A smile spreads across his lips and he looks confident. “Who knows, maybe you’ll wake up someday and realize that I’m the one you want,” he says and I’m about to say something but he continues, “don’t say that it won’t happen, because you can’t know that for sure. People change, and so do their feelings. And that’s the reason why I won’t give up just yet. I won’t give you up yet.”
When he has said what he needed to say, he turns around and walks inside. Even though Minhyun said he wouldn’t give up on me, I still feel like something was resolved. My heart feels a little lighter and I don’t feel so hopeless anymore. Maybe there’s actually a chance that this could end well for all of us.