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There’s a 52 sitting proudly at the head of Seojun’s calculus paper. Circled in red with a small note just beside it. ‘Stop sleeping in class and pay attention next time, Mr. Han!’

Seojun lifts a brow. “She should be thankful I attend her class altogether,” he mumbles to himself, sitting back to fold the paper into an aerogami. Once done, he throws it at Suho, chuckles when it hits him in the head.

Suho turns in his seat and gives him an unimpressed look from across the classroom. He unfolds the paper and takes a look at the grade. Then looks back at Seojun with a raised brow of superiority. Seojun shrugs, stretching a leg out the desk to slide down and sit more comfortably.

He looks back ahead as Mr. Joonwoo continues to hand out papers. A laugh bursts out of him, loud and throaty when Jugyeong gets her own paper. She looks up at him, curling her lip with a glare. “What’s so funny?!” she yells.

Seojun’s halfway through a witty comeback when his toes get stomped out. “Ah, shibal!” he yells, pointedly ignoring Joonwoo’s language. “Yah, Kang Sujin!” he shouts after Sujin. “At least apologize! Aish! Where are your manners?!”

She’s already out the classroom by the time he’s done reproaching her. He glares at the door as he yanks a handkerchief out of his breast pocket and bends down to wipe the leather of his shoe clean. He stops short, eyes landing on Sujin’s paper. A sigh falls from his lips and he picks the paper up before he stands to his feet and swaggers out.

He finds her on a stairstep, head in hands and eyes closed. “Yah, Kang Sujin–” he points a finger at her.

She runs her fingers through her hair and looks up at him, impassive save for the glazed look in her eyes. Seojun clenches his teeth, wants to say something like these shoes are new! or my toes demand an apology, but gives up with a defeated exhale. “Are you okay?”

Sujin looks down at her lap, kneading her thumb into the palm of her hand slowly.

Seojun knows Sujin. She’s a lot like his sister. She’s the type to always act tough that she’s forgotten how to not. The type to push people away so much that she doesn’t know how to ask for comfort. He clears his throat and steps closer.

“Yah. Look at me.”

Then he’s crouching down in front of her, ducking his head to try catching her eye. “Are you sad you got a ninety six?” He questions. “I got fifty two. I’m not crying over it.”

“You’re academically challenged,” Sujin tries to sound as catty as usual, but her voice breaks and quietens to nothing.

Seojun smiles a little at that, looking away as he pokes the inside of his cheek with his tongue. “Kang Sujin,” he addresses her calmly after a moment’s silence. “You did well.”

It’s.. not the right thing to say. She chokes on a cry and buries her face in her hands and Seojun doesn’t know how to deal with that. It takes him a moment to notice the chaps and the bleeding cuticles on her hands. He swallows. Feels like he’s missing out on something. “Sujin-ah,” his voice loses every trace of playfulness as he reaches up to hold her wrists and pull her hands away from her face. “What’s going on with you?”

“It’s nothing,” she tries shaking his hands off but his grip only tightens. Slightly. Not painfully, just enough to restrict her and keep her from trying to act fine. “I’m hormonal. Do you want to deal with a girl on her period?!”

It sounds like she thinks he’d back off.

Seojun lets go of her wrists but doesn’t budge. “I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s wrong.”

Sujin glares up at him, chin jutted like she’s fighting back tears. “What do you care? Just go back to pining after Lim Jugyeong and leave me alone, understood?”

Seojun sighs, hanging his head for a few moments. Then he stands up. And sits down next to her. He leans back, resting his elbows on the steps behind him lazily. “My dad died in a motor accident,” he states casually.

Sujin huffs a laugh. “What are you doing right now?” she asks.

“I didn’t know how to cope,” Seojun goes on like she hadn’t said anything. “So I got a motorcycle. Rode it without a helmet. The thrill of it made me feel better.”

Sujin’s quiet.

“There were times where I wanted to blindfold myself. Dicing with death was the only thing that helped me feel like I wasn’t suffocating,” he laughs the last part out, humorless and dry. “Then I got a call that mom’s transplant was successful and,” he shrugs. “I started wearing a helmet.”

He sits up and bumps his side into Sujin’s. “I told you my secret. Now tell me why your hands are like that.”

There’s a second where Seojun’s sure she’s about to tell him to piss off. But. “It’s hard,” she says hoarsely, voice hardly a whisper. “It’s so hard,” this time, she covers her face with her hands to bury her tears there. Like crying would make her weak and ruin her character.

Seojun lifts his hand and rubs her back tenderly. “What is?”

“Having a dad,” Sujin laughs. “And not having one at the same time.”

Seojun’s hand goes still against her back. “Is your dad…” he clears the rasp from his voice. “Does your dad–”

Sujin leans against him. There’s no hesitation in the way Seojun wraps both arms around her and pulls her to his side. He rubs a hand up and down her arm and strokes the back of her head with the other.

Being held seems like foreign territory to her, so he keeps holding her until she gets used to it.