What really bugged Minah about college was not the fact that it was full of idiots, but rather the fact that her mother had promised her that she'd probably find some sensible romance there.
Yet here she was, watching the intra college men's soccer matches go up in testosterone fuelled flames as Jung Taekwoon, captain of the soccer team, launched himself onto Kim Wonshik, resident college dj, in an attempt to knock his teeth out for a foul. She sighed, breath fogging as she watched the swarms of students hurry onto the field to detach the two.
Minah could feel herself dissociating; her eyes fixed on crowd of people and her hands clutched at the red sweater that adorned her figure. She exhaled heavily again, the fog produced blurring her vision momentarily before the figure of an outraged Jung Taekwoon being held back by his teammates came into her field of vision.
Why was it so fucking cold again? Why were these matches being held at night again?
It was the scream from the gaggle of girls beside her that snapped her back to reality. Taekwoon and Wonshik were both on the ground showing varied degrees of pain. Apparently Wonshik had slipped on the grass taking Taekwoon down with him. Or at least that was what Minah could make of the chaos. She looked around to see if there was any form of medical aid (there was none) before watching the teams pick up the two players and carry them off the field.
Minah cursed, there was no first aid box in sight and by the looks of it, no one was calling the infirmary ambulance. The crowd was quickly clearing since there was really no fight to watch now. Slipping down from her seat on a bench, Minah pulled her sweater tighter around herself before marching over to the spot where the two injured players lay. She noted Hongbin, head of the gaming club, pottering around, trying to figure out how to fix the injured players without a first aid kit.
Wonshik’s leg was propped up on a kit bag to keep it raised while Taekwoon glared at the field, a large gash on his arm bleeding profusely. Wonshik grunted when he saw Minah approach and she waved to him “hurts like a bitch.”
“No shit son.” she chuckled, turning to Hongbin “Bean, do we have a first aid kit?” to which he shook his head “It’s in the sports office.”
“Mind getting it here please?” she asked, feeling Taekwoon’s eyes on her as Hongbin nodded, speeding away to the sports office. She turned to Taekwoon while bending down to inspect Wonshik’s leg “you’ll need to wash that out first.”
She noted him rolling his eyes like she had said the stupidest thing in the world. Gritting her teeth, she turned to Wonshik, this was exactly why she avoided people like Taekwoon. There was something undeniably attractive about them, except they were absolute entitled assholes and Jung Taekwoon was no exception. Rolling her eyes back at him, she picked Wonshik’s foot up and undid the shoe laces.
“Did you send the minutes of the meeting to Jaehwan? They were fucking hilarious this time.” Wonshik chuckled, wincing in pain as the shoe came off “Sanghyuk walked in at 6:30 and walked out at 6:45 and returned with a cola. Bitch didn’t share it with me.” he recited as Minah glared at him.
“I’m glad you’re happy with a sprained ankle.” she felt a box knocking her on the head “Oh, Hongbin! Thank you.”
“Called the ambulance too.” he said, settling down beside Taekwoon who was clearly upset about being off the field.
“Genius.” she appreciated as she set to spraying and taping Wonshik’s ankle before pulling the bottle of hydrogen peroxide and shaking it. Another gust of wind had her pulling her sweater closer. The wet turf wasn’t helping one bit with the cold either. Fixing her glasses, she took a deep breath and faced Taekwoon “arm please.”
“Don’t need it.” he grumbled and instantly Minah’s eye narrowed.
“If you’re done being momentarily macho and don't want to die of sepsis, show me your arm.” she sighed, crossing her arms as Hongbin held back a chuckle as Taekwoon looked up at her shivering figure. There was nothing particularly extraordinary about her appearance. She was reasonably good looking, somewhat dishevelled and tired. He held out his arm, eyes fixing themselves on the field. She shook her head, eyeing the gash which hadn’t been rinsed out, shrugging, she poured a capful of the hydrogen peroxide on it as he hissed.
“Told you to wash it.” she shrugged yet again before wiping the dirt and blood off with a cotton pad. Taekwoon’s peripheral vision picked up on her movements silently as Hongbin acted as her assistant. His skin tingled with the peroxide and the sensation of her cold hands on his hot skin. Her fingertips were turning steadily blue and shaking as she tied the gauze in place “Done,” she mumbled “I’ll wait till the ambulance comes in. Wear your hoodie, or you’ll fall sick from your body cooling down too soon.” before returning to take a seat beside Wonshik who tried to reach and ruffle her hair only to have her swat his hand away playfully and chucking his varsity jacket over him as a blanket.
Minah could feel her jeans get damp as they absorbed the water on the grass. She shuddered, feeling the chill climbing up her spine. Letting out another shaky breath, she tried to focus her gaze on the field. Her vision was obstructed by heavy cotton dropping softly on her head. Blinking into the sudden darkness, she could smell the aqua scented cologne attached to it in attempts to shield the sweat of its owner. Her fingers grabbed at it and pulled it off to note that it was the college varsity jacket with “Jung TW” printed on the back. She turned to see Taekwoon returning to his seat, wearing the heavy college hoodie as Hongbin side-eyed him.
Taekwoon found it amusing how it hung off her shoulders loosely as she sat on the field, the game coming to a close when the ambulance pulled in. It slipped off her shoulder as she supported Wonshik and helped him hobble in. He could finally hear the crickets in the silence of the now emptying field, his soccer cleats hanging over his shoulders as the wetness of the grass seeped through his shoes. Once she got Wonshik onto the ambulance, she turned to him and nodded to the vehicle.
“You’ll need to check if you need stitches.” she turned, the jacket barely hanging onto her shoulders. He clambered onto the ambulance, noting her choosing to sit next to Wonshik and regularly taking peeks at his arm.
The nurse declared that he needed two stitches and bedrest while Wonshik’s leg was bound tightly and he was fed with painkillers causing him to snore in the bed next to Taekwoon’s. Disgruntled, Taekwoon blinked into the darkness and noted that his jacket now hung on the solitary chair of the room. The woman wearing it had vanished.
Minah admired her ability to lie low for most part. Most of her lack of recognition could be attributed to her major which took up most of her time; the second was largely her unwillingness to really get into drama, prefering to watch than partaking in it. She had her friends in all social structures of the college system and could maintain relationships.
But if one had to ask her to choose a theme song for her social relationships, she would shrug and say “Here, by Alessia Cara.” the typical college life depicted in the movies wasn’t her cup of tea. Parties, drinking, and heavy social interaction made her more uncomfortable than anything.
Which was exactly why it was extremely simple to fade out of Taekwoon’s memory. Taekwoon’s social status in the college structure was clearly top tier filled with the dignified chaos of spoilt rich brats. In an institution run largely by the ‘donations’ of these students, it was easy for them to get away with murder. Everyone was a passing face unless they really had any purpose in their lives and while Minah had all the resources to be the same, she just didn’t find it to bring anything of value to her life, but if it helped them sleep at night, she was no one to judge.
So she wouldn’t be entirely surprised if someone stumbled into the student apartment block intoxicated and declaring that Jung Taekwoon or someone of the likes was a great kisser or had ensured that they couldn’t walk the next day (except there they were, walking). It was simply just another occurrence on the campus which made little to no difference in her life.
What really bugged her is the fact that she really liked how Jung Taekwoon’s jacket smelled and was in half a mind to ask him what cologne he used so she could buy one. But she realized exactly how creepy that sounded and kept that thought entirely to herself. She didn’t need to interact with the likes of him until it was absolutely necessary.
So she let him and his jacket shift somewhere to the back of her brain.
Taekwoon was a distant figure for most part in Minah’s life, he was just the silent member of the noisy entourage of people who made their presence known everywhere they went. Even the library wasn’t safe from them. Though they visited it irregularly as compared to Minah, every time they did, Minah was certain she was going to physically hurt them. Finals week was in full swing and she didn’t appreciate anyone disturbing her writing process. She rolled her eyes looking pointedly at the woman sitting across her.
“Haneul,” she mumbled, looking across the table at her roommate who was bobbing her head to the music playing on her earphones “why are they here?” she noted that her roommate’s eyes were fixed entirely on someone else “listen woman, Kim Wonshik will still be your boyfriend if I yell at his friends.”
“Suit yourself,” Haneul shrugged, turning back to her work until Wonshik came to sit beside her. He waggled his fingers at her in greeting before pressing a kiss to Haneul’s temple. Wonshik's arrival in turn brought along the whole group of people that Minah had been so annoyed with. Sighing, she shut her laptop, trying very hard to ignore the heart eyes between Wonshik Haneul as she got up
“I'm going to find another place to sit.” she said, picking her laptop and spinning around to come face to face with Taekwoon. She noted the mild recognition in his eyes as she brushed past, smelling that damn distinct cologne of his which simply made her even more grumpy.
“Leaving this seat?” He asked, taking the seat she left behind.
“Have to. People can't seem to hush up in a library.” she grumbled only to hear his “ah well, can't do much about it.” before making her way upstairs to find an isolated cubicle on the mezzanine floor overlooking the group of people. It wasn't long before she heard the noise from the group below echoing through the library only to be cut across by Taekwoon's soft.
“Guys, we should probably keep it down.”
“Yeah, probably cause you need time to process that dumb reading.” Minah overheard someone's loud teasing voice.
“Shut up. I have a major game tomorrow evening which I won't be allowed to play if I don't pass this test.” Taekwoon hissed back and silence reigned over the library.
Minah sighed, of course he wanted people to shut up for his own purposes.
Turning back to her screen, she squinted at her final paper, tapping her fingers uselessly over the keyboard before throwing her head back and groaning. This stupid ass paper was going nowhere and no amount of placing the readings on her head would cause the information to diffuse into her brain. Even the screen was starting to make her eyes hurt.
“Paper’s fucked up.” she heard Han Sanghyuk’s voice pipe up from the cubicle in front of hers. Soon the entirety of his giant figure slowly rose from behind the partition.
“When has Kang EVER given us a paper that isn’t fucked up.” Minah grumbled making Sanghyuk grin.
“And yet, you are masochistic enough to take her course every sem. I’m done with her, I can’t sit through another course like that. This paper is giving me a proper headache and craving for ramyun” he whined, resting his head on the partition like a defeated man. Minah patted his giant head before brightening up.
“You know what, we should get some ramyun, sit together and finish this shit.” she whacked his head “stop making fun of my interest in history. The next course is folklore, I’d be crazy to miss it!”
“You’re such a fucking nerd. Now let's go! I can hear your stomach rumble” Sanghyuk chuckled, leaning over and shutting the lid of her laptop as she glared at him while getting up and following him downstairs.
“Fuck off, you’re in Advanced Calculus, you’re the bigger nerd.” she nudged him as they headed to the cafe on campus which was the only one which stayed open till 2 am. The temperature change from the library to the outdoors wasn’t drastic, but the lack of the suffocating atmosphere made her smile as the two trudged towards the cafe, the over watered lawn squelching under their feet.
Soon they had two steaming bowls of ramyun which they happily slurped on in silence. Mainly because they were exhausted and it was unfortunate that 2am hunger struck, but also because they really didn’t have the time to dawdle. Instead the hurried back to the library with scalded tongues but happy stomachs.
“You head back up, I’m going to the pantry and getting myself some water. Then we’ll motivate each other to finish this shit.” Minah whispered to Sanghyuk who was now rummaging through his bag for his other notebook, he shot her a thumbs up, head still buried in his backpack.
Minah grinned, heading into the pantry, tucked in the corner of the library. It was largely bare, home to only a water dispenser. Picking up a glass, she filled it up, eyes feeling extremely tired as she closed them, exhaling heavily as she turned around into something a little too solid to be air. Water sloshed in the glass from the sudden movement, dripping down her neck and rendering her t-shirt wet enough to cling to her skin. The cold liquid made her gasp, suddenly feeling more awake; but also feeling a pair of feline eyes fixing themselves on her.
Why the fuck was Jung Taekwoon turning up everywhere all of the sudden?!
“Uh,” she began, trying to avoid looking at his face because he looked like he was going to crack up any second.
“I’m sorry.” she cringed, side stepping and exiting the pantry as quickly as possible. Taekwoon was left behind gaping at the space that had previously been occupied by her. He had finally gotten a reasonably good look at her face, though flushed red at the situation. She had sharp eyebrows, that was something that really caught his eyes, her eyes were small but they looked like they could set something on fire with just a glance (which it did, he thought he was burning into ashes the moment she met his gaze), she had clear skin which was surprising amongst college students considering the stress and lack of nutrition in general. He wondered why he was noticing all these things about someone who he had never really taken note of before, yet here he was in the middle of the library pantry, dissecting her facial features and thinking of how her shirt clung to her skin.
Taekwoon shook his head before reaching for another glass and filling it and downing it in a gulp.
Surely he wasn’t going to see her again.
That was until he entered the Folklore and Myths class he had signed up for the new semester. His jaw dropped when he saw Professor Kang at the teacher’s desk. No one had told him that this course was being taken by Professor Kang! He would have never taken it up had that been the case. He was told that English Folklore was taken by Professor Bang, the old fart whose courses were a breeze; so what on earth was Kang doing here?
Hurriedly he looked at the course list in his hand and felt his heart stop. This was a the Folklore and Myths class where they applied fancy theory to children’s stories (or at least that’s what his brain could quickly process in the moment). The moment he caught Kang’s eye and noted the condescending look on her face, he knew how royally fucked he was. Professor Kang’s courses were known around the campus for being notoriously tough.
“Excuse me,” he heard a voice behind him to see the woman waiting for him to entirely enter the class. She blinked up at his face, looking quite baffled at his appearance. She noted that his usually dark hair had now been bleached to a silver and it oddly suited him. “are you in this course?”
“Better get in, or Kang will flip her lid.” she said, easing past him into the classroom, spotting Haneul, who had her head on the desk, and taking the empty seat beside her. Taekwoon edged into the classroom, noticing that the last row was empty and plopping himself down there.
“Taken another one of my courses hmm Minah?” Professor Kang smiled at Minah who grinned back. Taekwoon straightened, so the girl who fixed his arm and spilled water all over herself was called Minah.
“One every semester, I love how you kill me with assignments.” she replied, pulling her laptop out her bag as Kang fixed her gaze on him.
“Jung Taekwoon right?”
“Ye-Yeah.” he mumbled, squirming in his spot as she assessed him. Kang was not particularly tall and rather plain looking, with very sharp eyes. But as most people said, short people were closer to hell, Kang was known to be the devilish professor and that reputation made Taekwoon shake in his shoes.
“This is a rather advanced course to be joining. I hope you can keep up. Unfortunately, there’s no backing out right now since most of the other courses are full.” she said and Taekwoon felt the sting of the comment. It was apparent that he looked like a deer in the headlights as Jaehwan chuckled from his spot in the front row.
“The soccer team captain in Myths? I thought this day wouldn’t come.” he laughed as Minah rolled her eyes at him.
“Well it has, so get over it Jaehwan.” she glared at the grinning man before turning to her laptop. Taekwoon eyed the exchange and wondered what exactly was going on before being swept away by Kang’s lecture. There was no way of making any sense of what she was saying, let alone keeping up with whatever running notes the woman seemed to give during the lesson. He was stumped watching the students in the front row type away furiously, fingers almost a blur over their keyboards.
This was pretty much the stupidest Taekwoon had ever felt in his life. His vision blurred as he tried his best to focus on the quickly changing slides as Kang’s voice droned down. He looked down at his phone and sighed, at least he had the upcoming weekend’s party to get his mind off things.
“No.” Minah deadpanned when Haneul asked her to accompany her to a party the coming weekend. The two had been sitting in the coffee shop attached to the library trying to get through a reading for a class when Haneul had brought the topic up. Haneul said that Wonshik had simply extended an invite to Minah. Minah wasn’t entirely certain as to why there was even a party being held. She supposed it was one of those rage parties influenced by copious consumption of mainstream media.
“Aww come on! It’s literally the beginning of the semester! You can’t complain about the lack of money or time!” Haneul frowned at her while setting aside her cottage cheese sandwich and taking a swig of her coffee. Minah shrugged, drumming her fingers on the table top as her eyes fixed themselves on the screen.
“Need to make arrangements for acoustic night.” she replied in monotone causing Haneul to frown even more.
“That will take a day or two. Just ask Jaehwan and Wonshik to get their shit together and ask the student activities for permission.”
“I said I’d handle this one.” Minah continued to scroll through the reading, pausing to down the rest of her coffee.
“I’ll help you! Now if you don’t come I’m locking you out of the room!”
“I have keys, you do realize,” Minah sighed, looking up to meet her roommate’s puppy dog eyes “you want me to give you company...alright. I won’t stay long okay? Plus I’ll feel like a third wheel or something.”
“Not to worry! While Hyukkie can’t make it, I have a fine replacement in the form of Hongbin to give you company in being sober whilst drunk…well, you sober and him being sober whilst drunk!” Haneul declared with a grin. “Also! How could you even suggest that you’d be the third wheel! You’re my number one priority!”
“I’m glad, for a moment there I thought you were setting me up with Hongbin or Hyukkie.”
“Hyuk’s too gay for Hakyeon and Bean is too...not interested.” Haneul counted off her fingers.
“I believe the term is asexual or aromantic. I’m not entirely sure which he identifies as.” Minah squinted in confusion. “Nonetheless, he is not interested and neither am I. Either way, nice to know that I will have company when you’re making out with Wonshik.”
“We don’t always make out!”
“Whatever, I have a partner in cringe.” Minah grinned, getting up to pay for the coffee and sandwiches as Haneul picked up their laptops.
Minah wasn’t entirely wrong about feeling entirely out of place at the party. It was in some rented place with flashy lights, loud music, and suspicious alcohol. She was certain there was a room with all the smokers in, their dazed gazes looking at each other through the grey haze. Wonshik and Jaehwan had swept Haneul away as soon as they had arrived leaving Minah and Hongbin to look at the mess that had already been created. She could vaguely identify Monsta X playing really loudly as she shifted closer to Hongbin. At least she was glad they had arrived late so she could spend as less time as possible in this suffocating atmosphere.
“So apparently this is for the soccer team winning a tournament. The invites spiralled out of control.” Hongbin tried to voice over the loud music as he sidestepped some broken glass. He looked around for the beer, choosing to start off slow while finding a clean can of Sprite for Minah. Minah looked around, half of the people were people she knew by face but not by name. She smiled awkwardly at the people who met her eyes hoping Hongbin would return with their drinks as soon as he could.
“Apparently they’ve set up a gaming room in one of the rooms. It’ll just be a bunch of us chilling in there if you want a safe space to be in.” Hongbin said when he appeared beside her, handing the can over to her. She cracked it open, it had gone lukewarm.
“Minnie-aaahhh!” Jaehwan’s voice echoed in the room causing the two to cringe as Hongbin raised his fingers to plug his ears. Jaehwan was probably the only one who could possibly be louder than the actual music at a party.
“Probably drunk off one bottle of beer.” Hongbin mouthed, chuckling as Minah wrestled Jaehwan off her shoulders. Apparently struggle was futile as Jaehwan firmly latched onto the grumbling woman and squealed in her ears.
“We’re karaoke-ing in the corner so come join usss!!!” he yelled enthusiastically in her ear before dragging her away, completely ignoring all her attempts to tell him that public singing was completely off the table for her. Hongbin looked at her pitifully; waving as she got dragged away.
“No, this is too much fun!” he called back causing her to curse at him. He grinned back as the crowd swept him away and that was the last of what Minah saw of Hongbin that night.
The space was starting to get oppressive, the heat from many bodies in one room was suffocating. She felt a jerk at her hand and turned to see Jaehwan grinning at her, his grip on her hand still firm as he helped her weave her way through the crowd. She adored Jaehwan, he was one of the heads of the music club and was incredibly talented. He was constantly holding workshops on campus to help people.
He was also fucking annoying when he was drunk.
“Minnie-ahhhh, do you wanna sing with meeee?” he said, almost swinging her into someone who caught hold of her before there could be any real impact. She glanced up to see Taekwoon’s flushed face glaring at her, nudging her off before stumbling through the crowd. Taking a deep breath to steady herself, she turned to reject Jaehwan’s request.
“Awww we shouldn’t disrupt this now should we?” Jaehwan’s gaze was fixed on Wonshik’s terrible rendition of some old trot romance song whose name Minah couldn’t entirely remember. She cringed as Wonshik sat on a beaten up couch, holding his mobile phone as a microphone and serenading Haneul who was perched on his lap. Every pause in the song was punctuated with a loud kiss to her cheek and Minah shuddered at the sight. She loved her friends, she really did, but this was exactly what she meant by feeling like a third wheel.
“Minah! We thought we lost you!” Haneul called from her seat on Wonshik’s lap, holding her arms out for a hug like they hadn’t seen each other for years. Minah sighed, she loved Haneul to bits and would go to the ends of the world for her, which was why she found herself being squished and cuddled by her roommate and best friend. She tried very hard to ignore the fact that Wonshik had his head buried in Haneul’s neck, pressing open mouthed kisses there.
“Hannie, is Wonshik hecka drunk?” she mumbled into her roommate’s ear and Haneul nodded.
“Initially he was singing into a shot glass.” she said, somewhat exasperated, but she sound equally endeared. Minah grinned, patting the top of Haneul’s head.
“I’ll take the bus back to the campus, you should take care of him. I don’t feel great here.”
“But sisters over misters! We can head back and do something fun!” Haneul tried to stand up as Minah shook her head.
“It’s all good, I’ll just head back, I’ll get the acoustic night stuff started up. Don’t worry about me, okay?”
“Take Hongbin with you, at least!” Haneul looked at Minah, worried and Minah nodded to reassure her.
“Sure, I’ll go look for him.” she replied, knowing that it would be a futile attempt to locate Hongbin in the crowd, she wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to hear phone calls at the decibel level this party was going. Right now Minah was prepared to do anything to get out of the oppressive heat of the party.
Not bothering to look for Hongbin, Minah made a beeline for the door. Stumbling out into the cool night, she let out a heavy breath. The rented villa was not very far from campus, used very often for such parties by the students of the college since the college disallowed underaged drinking. It was somewhat isolated, not within the city and the sudden change from blaring music to absolute silence was stark. Minah shivered at the sudden cold. If she walked a short distance down-hill she would be able to catch the shuttle bus to the residential campus. She heaved another sigh before heading forth coming to a complete halt when she saw the sight in front of her.
Taekwoon leaned heavily against his vehicle, inebriated, he had come out for air and was suddenly struck with a deep sense of melancholy. He snorted, people like him weren’t really supposed to have such feelings, but when he was repeatedly reminded on a daily basis that his brain wasn’t good enough, it stung. It stung like the cold wind which had picked up and was cutting past his cheek. He sat down slumped down in front of the teal vehicle, heavily displeased. Even though he had won the match, he hated how stupid Kang made him feel.
Minah gaped, he looked a little like an image straight out of a manhwa with his silver hair, varsity jacket, ripped jeans, and the gloomy expression on his face. She ought to go get the bus, she really should have. But Jung Taekwoon with a giant pout on his drunk face was a little too much for her to miss. Minah found herself inadvertently stepping towards him.
Taekwoon nearly jumped when he felt movement beside him, his eyes shot open to land on Minah who was squatting beside him, blinking curiously. He opened his mouth to order her to fuck off, but she spoke first instantly silencing him.
“For a drunk guy passed out, you’re pretty cute.” she grinned, ruffling his hair.
“Fuck off.” he grumbled, swatting her hand away and glaring at her bespectacled face. The sight of her annoyed him. How was it that she managed to understand what was going on in Kang’s classes? She clicked her tongue.
“Too bad you’re an idiot. Alright. I’m off then.” She stood up, taking a step away and Taekwoon could feel the flare that shot up within him subside. He noted that she took a few steps away pausing for a few seconds before returning. She slid down beside him and took a seat on the sand. He looked at her in her red and blue plaid shirt and plain blue jeans, her white sneakers in sharp contrast with his black ones. She raised her eyebrow as his stoic gaze.
“See, I can’t leave you drunk and pouting here. So I’m going to wait till you sober up a little more and get you back to campus.” she shrugged.
“Why would you do that?” Taekwoon narrowed his eyes.
“Because I’m a responsible adult,” she grinned, pulling her phone out “I’ll call a cab.”
“Can’t leave my baby behind.” Taekwoon grumbled, vision blurring as he leaned heavily against the car. Fuck Himchan for getting him so drunk, fuck Kang for making him so angry, fuck this woman for bothering him so much.
“So, I’ll drive you back to campus then.”
“Fuck no, you aren’t allowed to touch my baby.” he curled away from her and pouted even more when he heard an amused laugh leave her lips.
“Hey pouty brat, give me the keys and let’s get you back to campus.” she waggled her fingers in front of him, indicating that he drop the keys in her hands.
“I am not a pouty brat!” he spat pausing when his stomach rumbled making Minah laugh even more.
“We’ll buy pizza or grab McDonalds on the way.” she cooed, having dealt with drunk Haneul more than once had made her rather adept at bribing people into doing things. What she didn’t expect was to see Jung Taekwoon, one of the most popular men in college, rummage for his precious car keys in exchange for food. The enthusiasm in his actions was somewhat endearing. Handing the keys over to her he nodded.
“Alright. McDonalds fries sounds amazing right now.”
“Than shall we head there? Or do you want to sit here for a bit?” she asked, as he shook his head.
“Fries and a Big Mac.”
“Mhmm,” Minah hummed, standing up and dusting herself off before holding her hand out. Taekwoon examined the proffered hand with narrowed eyes causing Minah to roll her own “I will abandon you here if you don’t get your ass up.” he gripped at her hand as she tugged his weight up, stumbling forth into her arms, Taekwoon found himself leaning heavily on her, she smelled vaguely like some kind of flower that he couldn’t entirely place his finger on. She could handle his weight pretty decently for someone of her stature. He smiled into her hair, leaning even more onto her frame.
“You smell nice.”
“Thank you bub, you need to get into the car.” she huffed, shifting her center of gravity to adjust to the long noodle-like man using her as a support. He was warm against her cold skin and the damn cologne was now too close for comfort. Biting down on her lip, she hitched him up, struggling towards the car. He was little to no help getting the door open as he vaguely hummed into her hair “Jesus Christ Jung, at least get in.”
“Got it got it.” he said, stumbling into the passenger seat and fumbling with the seatbelt, getting increasingly frustrated as he missed the lock and the belt kept sliding back into position. Minah ran her fingers through her hair, trying very hard not to be amused. Clearly the initial hostility was to ensure that she didn’t see this mess. But she couldn’t deal with the fumbling anymore.
“Here, let me.” she said leaning over to click the seatbelt in place. She could feel Taekwoon giggling.
“What is it?”
“Your glasses are pink.”
“Why yes, they are.” she said, shifting away and shutting the door. Taekwoon lazily looked at the path she took to the driver’s seat, getting in and shutting the door behind herself. Sticking the keys into the ignition, she backed out of the space Taekwoon had parked in. Taekwoon hummed into the silence, mind wandering as he looked at his surroundings.
“Did you get back your grade for the first response note?” Minah asked tentatively and all of the sudden Taekwoon remembered exactly why he was upset. Minah noted that his face turned sour almost instantly.
“Makes me feel stupid.”
“Yeah?” Minah supplied, eyes fixed on the road. She was aware that Kang was being extra tough on Taekwoon for no good reason except for being somewhat of an elitist. It didn’t help that Taekwoon didn’t have any foundations in the course to help him manage to get through it.
“You all make me feel stupid and I don’t like it. I hate how things don’t make sense. I hate it.” Taekwoon glared out of the window as Minah took a turn towards the McDonalds which was on some godforsaken road.
“Is it something we do?” she asked softly.
“You guys understand! And sneer at me when Kang does ask questions that I can’t even begin to comprehend!” there was a whine in Taekwoon’s voice that made Minah want to pet his head like a puppy. She chose instead to focus on the road, the large yellow sign shining brightly a few meters away. Turning into the drive-in, there was a silence which broken by the crackle of the server asking them for their order. Soon Taekwoon was wolfing down on a Big Mac as Minah guiltily at her large order of fries.
“Are...you mad at us?” she asked, her fries not touched. Taekwoon looked at her before taking another hungry bite of his burger stuffed with fries. Swallowing, he sniffled.
“Do you think...I am stupid?”
Minah frowned, turning to him, his silver hair fluttered as a gust of wind blew in “what? No.” she noticed that Taekwoon wasn’t really taking her word for it “urgh, how do I explain this? Intelligence...isn’t always academic; however much people...especially Kang might want you to believe. You’ve heard people call you a genius on the field, you’re aware of your surroundings when most people aren’t. So what if you aren’t academically inclined...it doesn’t make you stupid.” she said, looking at her fries, finally picking one up to eat it, feeling Taekwoon’s eyes on her. She forced a few more fries into her mouth, trying to pretend that his gaze didn’t bother her. Either way, he wouldn’t remember this.
“Should we head back to campus?” she started again, adopting a lighter tone and looking at him. His head faced the window and his eyes were closed. She sighed, clearly he had fallen asleep thanks to her speech. She ate as many fries as she could, wiping her fingers off on a piece of tissue before restarting the ignition.
The drive back to campus was silent, but the air was heavy as Minah tried to focus on the road. Moonlight streamed in through the windows, lighting up the path as Taekwoon slept peacefully. Thankfully it wasn’t more than a fifteen minute drive as Minah drove up past the campus security, halting to wake Taekwoon up. He whined and blinked quickly, eyes squinting to adjust to the light and sleepily turning to Minah.
“Fancy new block, okay.” she nodded, turning the vehicle in the direction of it. Taekwoon looked dazed as they reached the tall imposing building and Minah turned off the ignition.
“Can you make it back to your room okay or do I need to call someone?” she asked, unbuckling her seatbelt before clicking on the button to undo his. He shook his head, eyes fixed on her hands as they moved back to pick up the doggy bag of fries “alright. I’ll...see you when I see you then.” she said reaching to unlock the door “and Taekwoon.” she called for his attention “let me tell you a little secret. We all feel stupid in Kang’s class. We just pretend we have a clue as to what is going on. Just a little thing to keep in mind.” she said with a smile.
Taekwoon met her eyes, brain sober enough to comprehend what she was saying. The moon reflected off her spectacles but her smile made her glow. His heart felt a little lighter as he nodded, his stomach rumbled noisily as nausea crept up his gullet. She turned to open the door and he found himself calling “Minah,” Taekwoon noticed her freeze, as she turned around. This was the first time her name had left his lips. Leaning across, he pressed his lips to her cheek and shifted away breathing out a “thank you.” he said before opening the door and ejecting his dinner onto the footpath.