One of the girls, probably the leader, steps forward and looks at me with a murderous glance.
“We have been waiting for you,” she says and I frown. “Why?” I ask and she smiles superiorly. “Because we have a little surprise for you.”
She steps aside and her friends pour a bucket of water over me. I’m so surprised that all I can do is just stand there and look at my wet clothes. I feel a hard push on my arm and I fall to the ground.
“Stay away from Minhyun,” she hisses and her friends gather around me. I can’t look at any of them and my gaze just wanders until I see a familiar face. JR is standing a few feet away and he is looking this way. He meets my gaze and I expect him to come and help me. But he just turns away and leaves. I can’t help but feel hurt. I thought that we had some kind of friendship because he lives at my house. But apparently he doesn’t care about me being bullied and he doesn’t want to help me.
I feel helpless but then I hear a familiar voice.
“Leave her alone!”
The girls step back and someone takes my hand from the ground. “Are you okay?”
I look up and see Minhyun’s concerned face. He helps me to my feet and tries to brush the dust off of my wet clothes.
“Who is she?” the leader of the group asks and Minhyun turns his head to look at her. “A friend,” he says in a cold voice that surprises me. I have never heard him talk in that tone before.
“Then why are you so nice to her?” she asks and Minhyun raises an eyebrow. “That’s normally how you treat friends. Not that you would know,” he says and then turns away from her. He starts pushing me away from the girls and I let him. When we have gotten far enough Minhyun stops and looks at my face.
“I’m sorry to say it but you look terrible,” he says and brushes a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “Really? I thought wet was in this year,” I say and Minhyun chuckles. “I’m relieved you’re so cool about it,” he says and I shrug, “but I think you should get out of this wet clothes as soon as possible. If you just wait here I will get Aron hyung and he can take you home.”
I nod and Minhyun walks past me. He is still in his player uniform and I guess that if he didn’t have to stay with his team he would have taken me home himself.
A few minutes later Aron comes running. He looks at my wet hair and clothes and then grimace.
“I know I look pathetic. Can we just go?” I say and Aron nod. We start walking towards the parking lot. Aron missed driving in his sports car because we always walk to school. So he decided to drive here today even though we don’t live far away. We walk to his car and he unlocks it. I get in and sit in the passenger seat. Aron also gets in and looks a bit concerned.
“I hope the seat is gonna be fine. Water isn’t good for the cover,” he says and I roll my eyes. “Just shut up and drive,” I say and Aron chuckles before he turns the key and leaves the parking lot.
It feels good to get out of the wet clothes and dry my hair. I wear comfortable clothes and put my hair up in a ponytail. The boys have already seen me in these kinds of clothes and I don’t feel uncomfortable around them as much anymore.
I’m on my way downstairs to see if Minhyun has come home. I stop halfway because I hear voices from the living room.
“I know that you are not very good at showing people you care but I didn’t know you were this cold.”
I recognize Minhyun’s voice. Did he just get home? And who is he talking to? I sit down on the stair and listen intensely. The next person talking I recognize as JR.
“You seem angry Minhyun,” JR says indifferently. “Of course I’m angry!” Minhyun bursts and I lean a little forward to hear better, “why didn’t you do anything? You saw what happened and what they did to her but you just ignored it. Why couldn’t you just help her?”
I fight back a gasp and cover my mouth. Are they talking about me? About the incident with the girls where JR just walked away? No they can’t be..
“Why would I? She is not my responsibility,” JR says and he doesn’t seem effected by Minhyun’s anger. “But you are her friend aren’t you?” Minhyun asks and his question is follow by silence. “I don’t know, am I?” JR finally says and Minhyun sighs. “Do you really not care at all when it comes to her? Is Heejin really nothing to you?” Minhyun asks and I fight back another gasp. So they are talking about me. And Minhyun just asked JR if he cares about me or not. Something I have wanted to know the answer to myself for a while. I hold my breath while I wait for JR’s reply.
“Why would she be? She has got nothing to do with me.”
His words feel like a slap on my face. He really doesn’t care about me at all. I’m nothing. I feel a clenching feeling in my chest. It’s not that I like him or anything it’s just… I don’t like this feeling. Knowing that someone you care about, even if it’s just a little bit, doesn’t care about you at all. It hurts. More than I would like to admit.
So I get up and walk back to my room because I don’t want to hear anymore.
Monday after school Aron and I sit in the library to get my homework done. I’m getting better and faster but still it takes longer than it should. Luckily Aron is patient and doesn’t rush me. Instead he sits quietly by my side and answers all my stupid questions.
We have been quiet for a while when Aron suddenly speaks. “Heejin-ah.”
“Mmh,” I mumble while trying to solve a math problem. “Try and call me oppa,” he says and I almost drop my pencil. “Ne?!” I say and turn my head to look at him. He rests his head in his hands and gaze at me. “You never call me by my name because you don’t want to call me oppa right?” he asks and I don’t reply, “if you call me something it’s always sunbae and you always speak formal. I thought we agreed to be friends. I want us to be close so please speak informal and call me Aron oppa from now on.”
I look at him hesitantly and bite my lip. “Just say it,” he encourages and I sigh. “Arasseo… oppa,” I mumble and Aron smiles. “Jalhaseo,” he says and ruffles my hair. I push his hand away but with a smile. I can’t even get mad at him. I go back to my homework but then Aron speaks again.
“I’m sorry Heejin but we have to continue this later at home. I have somewhere to be now,” he says apologetically. I smile and say it is okay. He gets up and apologizes again. “See you at home,” he says before he leaves. I know I can’t get my homework done without Aron so I pack my things and get ready to go home.
I walk through the school that is almost empty by now. But when I reach the entrance I suddenly see a familiar figure.
“What is JR doing?” I mumble and walk over. He is leaning against the wall and his face is twisted in pain. Did he fight again and get seriously injured this time? I run to him and put my hand on his shoulder.
“Are you hurt?” I ask and JR turns his head to look at me. “I’m fine,” he says and tries to walk away but for some reason he can’t. I look down and see that he isn’t wearing one of his shoes and that the ankle is swollen. My eyes widen and I crouch down next to him.
“Did you twist your ankle?” I ask and carefully touch his foot. He whimpers and looks away. “It’s nothing,” he says and once again tries to walk away but fails again. I press on a spot by his ankle and he whimpers again, louder this time.
“We have to get you home,” I say and get up. “What do you think I’ve been trying for the last couple of minutes?” he asks and sounds very irritated. As if it’s my fault he is hurt. “I’ll help you,” I say and is about to put my arm around his waist. But he pulls away and almost falls over. “Forget it. I’ll get home myself,” he says and I snort. “Good luck with that,” I say and he frowns, “just let me help.”
“No way,” he says and I roll my eyes because of his stubbornness. “Fine I’ll let you have your way. See you at home. If you ever make it,” I say and walk a few steps before I stop and look at him over my shoulder, “good luck getting past the path with bushes. They are probably hard to lean on to move forward. Maybe you have to crawl.”
I smile and wave before I turn around. “Wait!”
I feel a rush of satisfaction and turn around to look at JR. He looks very dissatisfied with the situation but I enjoy it. He takes a deep breath before he talks.
“Can you help me?” he asks in a subdued voice and avoids looking me in the eyes. I tilt my head and my smile widens. “Of course,” I say and walk over. I put my arm around his waist and after a couple of seconds he puts his arm around my neck for support. Then he leans on me and I’m happy he isn’t very big. He is about 5’9 and he has a slender built. He is muscular because of boxing but his body doesn’t get big because of it. Even with muscles he still looks slender. But my hand on his waist can feel the muscles in his hips. He is strong. No doubt about that. Why am I even thinking about this? I feel like a pervert. I shake my head and ask JR if he’s ready. He nods and we start walking.
We have walked a couple of minutes in silence before JR talks.
“I would say sorry for making you do this but I’m not very good with the whole concept of saying sorry,” he mumbles and I smile wryly. “It’s fine. This past week I have gotten to know you and I think I understand you just a little bit,” I say and look at him, “I will just act like you said sorry and accept your apology.”
He turns his head and meets my gaze. “You’re not as bad as I thought,” he says and I chuckle. “Is that your way of saying thank you?” I ask and he shrugs. “I guess,” he mumbles and I smile. He is not as bad as I thought either. I wonder if we will be able to get along after all.