Half an hour late – Haechan stared at his watch as he ran down the street and ducked under the principal's window, counting the seconds. One more minute and he'd break his record. But it was okay that his little sister flipped the table after he said there was no point riding her new pink bike across the street to school, because the first block on Thursday was just English, and nothing ever happened in English.
Well, that should have been true. So there he was, doubled over in the doorway of the second-floor English class, huffing and sweating and his bag slipping half-way down his shoulder, probably looking like a total idiot – and there, standing at the front of the class, staring at him with these amazing brown eyes, was a cute stranger.
"Uh…" Haechan heard the dumb word roll off his tongue and cringed inwardly. Then, in the distant background behind the boy, he saw Mrs. Park's eyebrows knit together at the center of her face, and remembered to say, "Sorry I'm late."
"You're awfully late, Kim Haechan."
Haechan straightened and ran a hand through his probably hideously windblown brown hair. "That's what I said." He agreed, giving her his sweetest smile, but the woman's lips remained just as thin.
"Sit down." She said sharply.
"Yes, ma'am." Haechan winced at her glare and grinned sheepishly at the class. Half of the girls giggled, the other half kept staring up front. He took a seat in the third row, tapping the black haired girl sitting on the shoulder.
She turned around, brown eyes wide. "You're early."
Haechan leaned forward. "I know, Hana. Who's that?" He nodded his head to the front, where the boy was standing looking tall and hot and awkward in his striped polo T-shirt while the teacher wrote his name up on the board. Lee Mark.
Hana's lips twitched into a small, cute smile. "Isn't he hot? The dark red hair..."
Yeah, but I'm not about to say that out loud, I'm a guy! Instead, Haechan scoffed put his finger on her forehead and gave her a bit of a shove. "Who cares."
"He's from Canada." Hana sighed dreamily, her eyes fluttering. "And he's a year older than us."
Haechan raised an eyebrow. And that's attractive to you? That just makes him sound dumb to me. "Great." He said dryly, instead. "A Canadian boy."
Hana rolled her eyes and opened her mouth to reply, but Mrs. Park's shrill voice beat her to it.
"Haechan, pay attention!" She snapped, slamming her dry-erase pen on the whiteboard ledge. "If you want to socialize that much, then why don't you be Mark's buddy and escort him to his next class!"
"Huh?" Haechan widened his eyes and stared at her incredulously, while Hana's smile disappeared and she turned quickly in her chair. The class quieted, and up front, Mark shifted uncomfortably and looked at the door like he wanted to leave.
"Well, that's settled then." Ms.Park took a deep breath, like she'd just done a lot of work, and gave Mark a pat on the shoulder. "Why don't you take the seat next to Haechan, dear. He'll bring you to your classes and introduce you to people at lunch time." The grooves of her face deepened as she smiled.
"Ah… okay." Mark said in a hesitant, soft voice. There was an audible sigh from Hana, and Haechan sank deeper into his chair, frowning as the boy walked towards him. Mark gave him a crooked, shy sort of smile and slipped into the seat next to his.
There were only five minutes of English left and Haechan kept his eyes on the back of Hana's head, staring at her shiny, straight strands of black hair, ignoring the little glances that Mark kept giving him. When Ms. Park finally stopped talking and announced their dismissal he remained in his seat as Mark came to stand by the corner of his desk.
"Uh… I'm Mark." He began, smiling hesitantly. "Nice to meet you. Haechan, right?"
Haechan nodded curtly, avoiding the boy's eyes as he watched Hana shoot him upsetting looks all the way out the door.
Mark waited quietly for a couple seconds, then laughed and put his hand on the desk. "Sorry, is it your off-block? I can find my way to class myself."
He has big hands. Haechan stared at the boy's long, muscular fingers for a moment, then shook his head and stood up with a heavy sigh, dragging his bag over his shoulder. "Nah, I'm awake." He said, brushing past the boy and heading for the door.
He heard another little laugh and faint footsteps as Mark followed him. What's so funny? He thought irritably. "What class do you have next?"
The footsteps stopped and there was some rustling. Reluctantly, Haechan stopped and turned around to see Mark with a piece of paper held up to his face.
"Chemistry," Mark said finally.
"With Mr. Kim?"
Mark looked up, his eyes alight in surprise. "Yeah."
Haechan sighed and turned around. "Great," he said, hoping his sarcasm wasn't too obvious. "Me too."
Thinking it'd be too much of a jerk to completely ignore Mark, Haechan consented to point out parts of the school they headed for the opposite end of the third floor, where the sciences department was. Within just the three-minute walk to class, Haechan had counted a couple dozen girls eyeing them, half of whom were his friends, and a couple of his teammates from soccer looked at Mark with an expression that plainly said "checking him out" as they waved to Haechan through the crowd of teenagers.
Haechan left him once he passed through the door of Kim's classroom and headed straight for Mika, plunking his bag beside her and sprawling into his chair with a sigh.
Mika lifted her head from her arms, hazel eyes blinking sleepily, and brushed her brown curls away from her face. A rueful smile came onto her pink lips when she saw Haechan's face, which he bet didn't look pretty. "Good morning." She offered, rubbing her eyes.
"Not really." Haechan pulled his bag off the table, pulling his textbooks out. He caught sight of Mark standing uncertainly near the door, gaze flickering around the classroom but always landing back on Haechan, and felt a twinge of guilt. But then Mr. Kim came in and gave him a high-five and showed him to a spot beside Renjun, one of his old friends since elementary. The two of them fell into natural conversation, and Haechan looked back again feeling perfectly irritated.
"My sis threw a total tantrum today, I spent all morning wiping up the milk and I was late for class. Then I'm assigned to bring this new kid around all day. I only got two hours of sleep yesterday, too." He complained, totally slouching into his chair as he shot a glare in Mark's direction. He didn't want to be mean, but it was okay, cause Mark was too busy laughing about something with Renjun to notice.
"Oh, but he's hot," Mika observed detachedly.
Haechan felt his face heat up and sat up, surprised. Wait, did I just blush? "Why would I care?! I'm a guy!" He said indignantly.
Mika sighed calmly. "I know. I was just saying, you sure you aren't grumpy because Hana's going head over heels for this guy?"
Haechan winced but regained his composure when he saw Mark shoot him a look from across the classroom. "Why should I care?" He scoffed, opening his homework and pretending to study it. "She's always like that."
"Hmm." Mika raised an eyebrow, a smile twitching at the corners of her lips.
"Oh, yeah," Haechan said in an attempt to change the topic. "Why aren't you sitting with Renjun today?" He glanced at Renjun. "Did you break up with him again?"
Mika shrugged. "He was being dumb."
Haechan laughed dryly. "You have such high expectations."
Mika shrugged again, throwing her brown curls over her shoulder and taking her glasses out. "I'm not about to go out with someone who fails their tests." She glanced up, hazel eyes enlarged by her glasses, and blinked again. "Oh. He really is hot."
"Give me a break." Haechan groaned and turned his attention to the teacher, trying to ignore the stare that Mark was giving him.
Ten minutes to the end of class, there was a knock at the door and Hana walked in. Mr. Kim paused in his lesson and gave her a look, but she just scrunched up and smiled shyly and pointed at Haechan.
"May I speak to him for a second? It's for the photography club."
Mr. Kim raised an eyebrow and nodded, the hint of a smirk on his face. A wave of oohs ran through the whole class as Haechan rose to his feet with a tedious sigh, grabbing her arm and pulling her out the door quickly.
"What the hell?" He hissed, once the door was closed.
"Ohh but I needed to ask you a favor!" Hana grabbed his hands and held them up between hers, gazing up at him with wide dark eyes.
Haechan swallowed hard and tried to keep his glare steady. Damn, calm down.
"Can I switch with you?" Hana begged. "I know you're tired, so I'll show Mark around today, alright?"
Oh, so that's what it is. Pissed now, Haechan pulled his hands away and flicked her lightly on the forehead. "No." He said smugly. "I'm keeping Mr. Hottie to myself."
Hana wrinkled her nose. "Don't be gay."
"What did you call me –"
"Oh pleaaaase?" Hana whined, batting her eyelashes.
Haechan promptly lost track of his thoughts. He waited for a moment as he scrambled to recollect them, but in the end, all he ended up saying was "Fine, if you want to that badly." No, it wasn't fine!
"Yay!" Hana squeaked and rammed him into the wall with her hug. "I love you, oppa!"
"Ri-ight." Haechan said dryly, his heart cramping from the effort of trying to believe it.
Haechan went back to class struggling to feel nonchalant. Mark was staring at him with something that looked like concern, but seeing the boy's handsome face only pissed him off more so he stared at his hands for the rest of class.
They're so dainty compared to his. He mused, flexing his thin fingers.
Once class dismissed Hana was inside before anybody even left. Mika packed her stuff and left abruptly, no doubt onto her next class even though it was morning break. Renjun left early too, which was rare, but then again his eyes had been following Mika. Haechan just stayed in his chair, taking his time packing, watching Hana prance up to Mark from the corner of his eyes.
She leaned over the table and beamed and said something sweet. Mark looked up and smiled back and offered her a handshake. She laughed and took it and for a moment looked like she would pull him towards her – but it was just a normal handshake. Then she said something else and Mark's smile faltered. His eyes narrowed and his brows furrowed in confusion. He looked over at Haechan, and before Haechan could pretend he totally wasn't staring at the two of them, he saw the flash of hurt in Mark's brown eyes and stopped short, his heartbeat twitching weirdly.
Haechan stood up and rammed his binders into his backpack. Hana, following Mark's gaze, looked at him and smiled and waved – he tried to smile back but it felt like a grimace and gave them a thumbs up. Then he flung his bag over his shoulder and ran out of the classroom as fast as he could, mind spinning and chest contracting painfully.
Man, I really didn't get enough sleep, what's with all this weird soreness? Maybe I should call in sick for today…