"Spider-Man thinks he's hot sh*t when all he does is run around -- web around, swinging from building to building like a circus performer. He webs up one guy who stole a purse from a lady and suddenly everyone is all over him as if he had killed Thanos."
Chae Won huffed after her long rant, lightly blowing on her bangs. Her hands were placed firmly on the table and her back remained straight as she stared forward. There was a somewhat glare in her eyes - though her eyes weren't really trained on anything nor anyone. She was angry. She was fuming.
Now, Chae Won wasn't really one to get mad easily. She wasn't one to get mad at all. Sure, she found most things - most people - highly annoying. But she often finds herself to little too interested to care enough to get mad. But now was different.
Of course, Chae Won didn't last like this long and it was only a few seconds before she found her eyes lowering and her back stretching.
"Who hurt you this time?" Hye Won asked, only mildly interested, in between bites of her bread.
"Spider-Man swung away before she could get any good pictures of him for her article," Chae Yeon said, slightly leaning into the older girl to whisper, "It was quite sad, really."
"Doesn't he like," Yuri said in between munches, "hate you or something? Isn't this the third time he's swung away before you could get any pictures?"
Chae Won rolled her eyes and sighed. "Don't remind me. Eun Bi was bragging about how she was able to get pictures of him a few years back which got her the promotion."
"Well, Spider-Man must really hate you then," Hitomi said absentmindedly which earned her a shove from Nako.
"Ignoring that," Chae Won said as she gathered herself and began to look around the table, eyes scanning for a particular person, "Where did Yena go? Wasn't she here before?"
"She left not long after you arrived," Chae Yeon responded with a shrug. "Didn't really say anything."
The younger girls eyes faltered and her shoulders hung low. It was subtle, but her disappointment was there. But Chae Won wasn't one to show such emotions and found herself more comfortable blatantly complaining as if it were a joke. So, she put on a pout and began to do as such.
"I feel like it's been days since I saw Yena, that girl is always running off these days - oh my gosh! Do you think she's dating some boy?"
At those words, Hye Won put down her bread, Chae Yeon put down her phone, Yuri went eye-wide, and Nako and Hitomi stopped whatever they were doing in the corner.
"A. . . Boy?" Yuri asked, exchanging a look with Chae Yeon.
"Think about it," Chae Won said as her eyes looked off into the distance and her chin rested on her fist, "we never see her much these days and when we ask where she's been, she gets all flustered and changes the topic quickly. What else could it be?"
"It could be many different things," Chae Yeon said, picking up her phone once again to continue texting her girlfriend, "but that, my friend, is not it."
Chae Won sighed once again, leaning back against her chair. She looked outside.
It was a bright and sunny day in Seoul. It was a beautiful weekend, really. The sky was clear and the weather wasn't too hot, nor too cold. It was one of those rare days in the year when time seemed too slow down, somewhere in between class assignments and work duties, and it was so easy to lose yourself in thought; just let your mind wander.
So, Chae Won began to think. She thought about the speech she had to prepare for her public speaking class. She thought about her room which she had forgotten to clean earlier in the week. She thought about her dog who she had to take for grooming. She thought about the child who stood right outside the window, hand holding on to an ice cream cone, and the falling drops that drizzled down his wrist. And, she thought about Spider-Man and his-
Chae Won's eyes widened and she quickly sat up, arms uncrossing as she began to frantically look around. "Did you girls see that?!"
"See what?" Yuri asked, barely glancing up from her phone.
"Spider-Man just swung by the f*cking window," Chae Won muttered.
"What?!" All the girls asked in unison. But there was no answer, for Chae Won was already taking her camera out of her bag and running out of the coffee shop to chase after the hero.
Here's the thing: Usually, whenever Spider-Man would swing around town, webbing up some bad guys, stopping some busses from tipping over the bridge and into the river, or helping an old lady get her cat down from a tree -- he would almost always stop by to be interviewed by a couple of people (mostly reporters), and interact with fans.
But Chae Won wasn't sure if she was just always late, or if he truly did hate her, because by the time she would arrive he was always already swinging away. And today was no exception. The difference this time was, however, that he for sure saw her. She was so sure if it.
She had been running up to the crowd and had pushed her way in just as he finished answering some questions asked by her rival news publisher -- and he saw her before he quickly turned around and webbed away.
"How was your day?" Eun Bi - Chae Won's older sister - asked when she walked into the apartment that afternoon, making the younger slip out of her thoughts for a while before bringing her back.
Chae Won barely glanced up as she tossed her shoes and jacket to the side with drowsy eyes. "Exhausting."
"Spider-Man?" Eun Bi asked, knowing her sister better than anyone else.
"Yeah," Chae Won said tiredly as she walked into the kitchen and began to look through the cabinets. She sighed when she saw there was absolutely nothing to snack on.
"Did he ignore you once again?" Eun Bi asked, stuffing some popcorn into her mouth, eyes remaining trained on the whatever drama she was watching.
Chae Won walked over to the couch sat besides her sister before taking the bowl of popcorn into her hold. "Yeah, I swear he hates me."
"I really doubt that's the case," The older spoke as she snatched the bowl back, "I've interviewed him plenty of times and he is super nice."
Chae Won rolled her eyes. There it was once again. It seemed like she couldn't complain about Spider-Man once to her sister without the older bringing up her success with the self-proclaimed hero. "Yeah, well, I must be a special case then. I don't even know what his voice sounds like because every time I come around he stops talking and swings away."
"Nobody knows what his real voice sounds like," Eun Bi said, eyes stilled trained on the television, "he wears voice modifier."
"I wouldn't even know that," Chae Won snorted, "because that is how little I have gotten to know of him since I started this internship."
"Don't worry little sister. I'm sure one day you'll get to know him better."
"I doubt it."
To say that Chae Won was stressed was an understatement. She had an upcoming test in two weeks, two essays due in one week, a ten-minute presentation to give in two days, and not to forget that she still hadn't finished her article for this weeks column because she could get nowhere near the damn Spider-Man and she refused to write another article about the climate change.
But among all this chaos in her life -- there was more chaos. Eun Bi had told her an old family friend whom she used to know and her parents had just moved back into town not long ago and that their two families were scheduling a dinner which she would have to attend. Did Chae Won want to attend? Of course not. But when her sister was practically ordering her to attend, she didn't really have much choice. Eun Bi was quite scary at times.
Thus, Chae Won was at the library, trying her best to get her History assignment done in one hour, before she had to leave to attend the dinner. Fortunately for her, if college had taught her anything so far, it was how to type an essay in under an hour. So, Chae Won quickly submitted the assignment online and headed off to the restaurant where they would be having the reunion.
What Chae Won expected to happen when she arrived at the place was the parents talking while the children remained on their phones and she was left ultimately bored out of her mind, wishing she was able to get a head start on all the other assignments she had to piled up on her desk back home, or wishing she was hanging out with Yena or Hye Won, or Hitomi, or any other one of her friends. Sure, Chae Won had known Min Joo since even before she knew any of her recent friends, but that didn't mean she expected to get along with her now the same way she did when they did when they were five and playing with dolls in Eun Bi's room even though the older had told restricted them from doing so before.
But when Chae Won arrived at the table ten minutes late and saw everyone was already there, she was sure surprised by how much the younger girl had changed.
"Chae Won," Her mother had said when she stood in front of them, eyes focused on Min Joo who now looked taller than her and was much prettier than she remembered, "you finally arrived. Why don't you go sit in between Min Joo and your sister?"
Chae Won nodded and did as told, earning herself a glare from her older sister as she too her seat besides her before she turned to look at the younger girl and exchanged a small smile with her. Min Joo was sure pretty when she smiled. Much prettier than she remembered.
"Hey, it sure has been a while." Min Joo was the first to start a conversation, bumping her shoulder with her own.
"Yeah, last time I saw you we were thirteen and you were at least three inches shorter than me." Chae Won said, eyes remaining trained on the younger's smile that only widened from there.
Min Joo laughed lightly - only because the two didn't want to gain attention from the adults - and said, "Yeah, well, I hit puberty that summer I left, so now we're about even."
"I guess I no longer have a leverage on you, then." Chae Won responded.
"You never did." Min Joo teased.
The two girls were left smiling, reminiscing the old days before Min Joo's dad had gotten that job promotion somewhere else, causing the family to move away.
Chae Won had actually been quite sad that summer -- her first summer alone. All of her childhood she had spent every waking moment with Min Joo and as a child, she had never felt the need to reach out more. Sure, there were classmate friends here and there, but Min Joo was her best friend. She was the one she would play with at recess, the one who she would eat lunch with, the one she throw sleepovers with even though they wouldn't ever sleep when they were together, and the one who filled in every empty space Chae Won would have in her life when she left.
But that upcoming school year was the year she met Yena who was a grade above her, and also lead her to meet the other girls through the next couple of years. She thanked Yena for that a lot. But that was a different story.
"So, Min Joo, you're in your senior year of high school, right?" Chae Won's mother asked the younger girl like any parent who was curious about everything relating to their child would.
"Yes, I just started at my new school two months ago," Min Joo responded with another smile. She had plenty of those to pass around, it seemed.
"Have you made any friends yet?" Eun Bi asked, being social as she always would be in contrast to her younger sister.
"Not many," Min Joo responded, "but I have made a couple. Mostly girls a few years younger. But everyone has been really nice since I moved back here."
"You should ask Chae Won to introduce you to her friends," Eun Bi suddenly suggested, sending the other a side-glance, "She has plenty of those to go around. They're always hanging out at our apartment and-"
Chae Won elbowed her older sister, knowing where she was going with that suggestion. She was trying to tell her she was tired of having her friends around all the time. But really, Chae Won didn't mind the idea so much. Introducing an old best friend to her new close friends? What could go wrong?
Yena had been missing out on the usual hangouts with her friends. Yena's friends had started noticing her missing presence at their usual hang outs. And Yena was quite aware of it. She knew her missing presence didn't go unnoticed anymore and it was starting to raise questions. She knew sooner or later one of them would get sick of it and straight up ask her -- interrogate her as if she was committing some kind of crime. Which she might have been, but that wasn't the point.
The point was, Yena only had such little free time and she had to spend every single second of it with her friends so everything would seem perfectly normal and no one would ask any questions that she wouldn't be able to answer.
So, for the first time in three weeks, she showed up to their usual hang out. But she hadn't expected there to be someone new that day.
"Where's Chae Won?" Yena had asked as soon as she sat down at their usual spot in the coffee shop after class and noticed the girl's missing presence.
Chae Yeon had opened her mouth to respond, but before she could the door to the coffee shop opened and Chae Won walked in. Yena's face had lit up at the sight, before it instantly dropped and became a frown when she noticed the girl that walked in behind her. "Who's that?" She asked as the two girls walked over.
"Her old friend who she knew before us and who just moved back." Chae Yeon responded with a shrug.
Yena's frown did not disappear though her question had been answered.
Chae Won had other friends besides them? Who was that girl with the tall and slender figure and bangs and perfectly beautifully sculpted face?
Thinking about it, it made sense that Chae Won had other friends before she met the group. Unless she was just some friendless losers her entire life before she met them -- but then again, that was often how Yena had pictured the girl would have been years ago. Friendless until she - they - came into her life, turning her entire world upside down and showing her the magic of friendship -- wait, that was the plot to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
"Hey guys," Chae Won said as she took her seat across from Chae Yeon and next to Yena; Min Joo took the seat in between Chae Won and Nako, and across from Yuri. "This is my friend Min Joo who I have known since she was born. She moved away when we were thirteen and just recently moved back."
"Nice to meet you," Yuri immediately introduced herself, being a little too excited over the new girl, extending her arm across the table so the other could shake her hand, "I'm Yuri, the funny one."
Min Joo smiled slightly as she took the girl's hand and shook it.
"No," Hye Won said with a shake of her head, "You aren't the funny one. Anyways, I'm Hye Won."
And one by one, Chae Yeon, Nako, and Hitomi introduced themselves, leaving only Yena.
"Well," Yena mumbled, eyes flickering between Chae Won and the new girl, "I'm Yena. The actual funny one."
Min Joo smiled which, for who knows why, irritated Yena. "Nice to meet you all, I hope we can be good friends." And that also irritated Yena.
"Hey, you look kind of familiar," Yuri suddenly commented. Before Min Joo could responded, the girl was already leaning over the table, close into the girl - forcing the other to lean back - as her eyes scanned her entire face. "Oh my gosh, we have first period together, I think!"
"You think?" Chae Yeon asked.
Yuri shrugged, leaning back in her seat. "I sleep in that class."
Min Joo tilted her head, eyes slightly widening. "Oh, I think we do. You sit in the back, right? You snore kind of loud."
Chae Yeon snorted and Nako and Hye Won cackled. Yuri's excited face dropped as she slumped down. She then sighed and nodded her head. "Of course," She grunted, "Just my luck."
"You're blunt," Nako spoke up, "I like you. If you have a class with Yuri then that means all four of us go to the same school."
"How do you go to the same school as someone and not recognize them?" Chae Won suddenly asked.
Yena sighed, shaking her head. "It happens."
"Yeah, we went to the same high school for three years," Hye Won spoke up, "But we didn't know until we became friends last year in college."
"And you were both friends with Chae Won and I," Chae Yeon laughed, "I'll never understand how you never met even when having the same friend circle."
And the rest of the meeting went like that. A bit of teasing here and there, some laughing all around, and the slightest bit of jealousy radiating from a certain someone. But, of course, she wouldn't realize it was jealousy until they were all parting ways and she waited for Chae Won to walk out, only to be told that the girl would be walking with Min Joo instead. And even then, the girl assured herself that, whatever it was that she was feeling, would soon go away.
Almost a month passed after the group's first meeting with Min Joo, and the girl couldn't be any more attached to Chae Won -- they had noticed. Every time the group would meet up, they two girls would walk in together. They would sit together. They would lead the conversation together -- everyone was fascinated to hear about Chae Won's life before she had encountered them. And they would leave together.
It went unmentioned, but not unnoticed, that Chae Won had somehow seemed to have replaced another one of the girls: Yena. No, Yena and Chae Won were never exactly 'best friends'. The two girls were close to everyone in their friend group, so labeling each other as such would be awkward and distant. Not to forget, the one that Yena was closest to was Yuri who she had known since she was five because they lived right across from each other for a certain amount of time in their childhood. And Chae Won was closest to her sister, who was very much like a best friend, and never bothered to use the label again after Min Joo had left when they were thirteen.
But even though they weren't 'best friends', it was no secret that Chae Won and Yena had a different bond. Whenever Chae Won would rant about Spider-Man, unlike Hye Won who was blunt or Yuri who liked to joke around, Yena would nod and agree with whatever the younger girl would say. And she was just always there to support her in every way she could. Perhaps, that was why Chae Won spent so much time with the older girl -- more time with her than the others. The two girls loved all of their friends, truly, but in different ways for each one of them. And when it came to each other, their friendship was the kind where they could meet freely whenever they wanted to, outside of their usual hang outs with the others.
Except for lately, now that Yena was busy. And Chae Won seemed to be more focused on her rekindled friendship with someone else. Which led back to the random conversation they were having at the moment.
"And then we both jumped over the fence and ran as fast as we could," Chae Won said, trying her best not to burst into laughter.
"I can't believe you two ran away." Hitomi spoke in disbelief. "Why?"
"Have you ever met Chae Won's sister?" Min Joo asked, hand going up to her mouth as she laughed. "Eun Bi is scary. She does not come around to play."
"Tell me about it," Yena thought out loud, "Last month she kicked me out of the apartment with a broom because I broke her vase."
"That vase was worth eighty dollars." Chae Won deadpanned.
"She has no shame," Hye Won said with a shake of her head and a click of her tongue.
"Hey Chae Won, isn't that your sister on the TV?" Chae Yeon asked when her eyes flickered up and she noticed the news reportage airing on the television that hung on the back wall.
Chae Won's eyebrows raised and she slowly turned around in her seat when she saw all of her friends on the other side of the table were now looking up. "Oh," She whispered when saw the news reportage airing on the television, clearly showing her older sister talking about Spider-Man.
"Mrs. Park," Yuri called over to the owner of the shop, "Can you raise the volume on the television?"
The owner did as requested and the girls were able to hear what Eun Bi was reporting.
"Yesterday, Spider-Man was able to catch five gangsters that were beating up person A behind an alleyway. Unfortunately, it has been reported this morning that one of the gangsters escaped, and person A has requested security from the police department in fear that the gangster will come after them, until they can catch him again. Many of the public are speculating that these gangsters are part of a bigger gang that helped the other escape and that they will come back for the others and go after Spider-Man -"
"I don't want to hear anymore."
Everyone in the table turned around to look at Min Joo who was then turning away from the television.
"Are you okay?" Chae Won asked worriedly, leaning in closer to the younger. "You look ill."
Yena wanted to scoff. Her? Why wouldn't she be well just because of a news reportage on Spider-Man?
"I just don't like violence," Min Joo responded, giving the older girl a slight smile to reassure her that she was okay. But even with that response, the mood at the table had changed, and one of the girls was not up for it.
"I have to go," Yena suddenly announced as she picked up her backpack and swung it over her shoulder. She glanced at her friends - who all looked like they wanted to say something - and her eyes lingered on Chae Won a little longer than the rest, before she turned around and walked out. She couldn't stay there any longer.
"What's up with her?" Hye Won asked, though she didn't actually care very much. All the girls seemed to shrug it off as Yena being Yena: odd. All but one girl who remained staring out the window, eyes remaining on the corner of the street that Yena had disappeared off to: Yuri.