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Just A Little (Jealous)

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Being jealous is an irrational feeling, one that is not something someone like him, a potential prosecutor and top student at Hankuk University should feel. Being jealous is not something that a second round judicial exam passer should feel. No, Han Joonhwi should not feel jealous. It’s not a rational feeling, not at all. And he’s her friend as much as he also kind-of likes her more than that. It doesn’t matter because it can’t matter. Being jealous, especially over Kang Sol, when they are just friends, as much as he likes her, is something that is just wrong. She’s not him, who is really only comfortable being close with her and then keeping everyone else at arm’s length. No, Sol is friendly. Likes talking, being close with others. Even badgering him until his walls came down around her. Arguing with him as he teases her, giving him compliments when he helps point her in the right direction. 

No, Joonhwi is not jealous. Not at all. He can’t be. 

(He says, lying to himself. Because he totally is sometimes. Jealous that is. Incredibly jealous in fact when it comes to Sol.)

1

There are two Kang Sols in Joonhwi’s year. They’ve already been nicknamed to distinguish them, though from what little he’s seen, Joonhwi can already see that there is literally no way to confuse the two. Ever.  

There is Kang Sol B, who is four years younger than him, with high accolades and rumors of her writing a legal thesis in middle school. 

And there is Kang Sol A, his age and one of the few scholarship students admitted each term. 

What is strange is that they are both named Kang Sol. It’s not a common name at all, not like Park Jimin, of which there are also two in the year, one female and one male however. 

Two Kang Sols. It’s interesting. Not much catches Joonhwi’s interest anymore, especially related to his classmates. Most just spread the rumors about him, even though most don’t know that he’s already passed the second round judicial exam, and spent a half a year at a police academy before dropping out. Apparently all that makes him interesting in comparison to the rest of his classmates right now is that he can recite the codes of law word by word. It makes no difference to him. He’s here to learn, maybe aggravate a few of his classmates. Not to care about what they think about him otherwise. Especially since he’s going to be calling out his uncle since the man won’t listen to him personally about turning himself in.  

There’s ten minutes before class starts, and in a flurry of limbs and a messy bun, Kang Sol A runs into the room. Joonhwi chuckles under his breath as she takes the seat across the aisle from him. 

After cleaning out Professor Kim’s office with her, Joonhwi’s learned that she is something. Lively, throwing herself into literally everything she does including her passion for justice, despite how much he can already tell that she’s going to be struggling. It’s a far cry from most of these people, including Kang Sol B, who have little of the same passion that she does. She’s interesting, he thinks. And there is so little, people included, that interest him in the same way she does. 

Of course, as she sits, he hears a murmur from the boys behind him. God, Joonhwi doesn’t think he was ever that much of an idiot at their age. Sometimes four or five years feels like ten, especially with the hotheaded boys who haven’t even gone to their military service yet. 

He cocks an ear, listening. Apparently, discussing the women in the class. Joonhwi mentally rolls his eyes. Ridiculous. Ranking the women in their year like high school boys, not graduate students at a prestigious university.

“And Kang Sol,” one of them whispers. 

“Which one?” the other whispers, and Joonhwi closes his eyes, leaning back in an unobtrusive way to listen in. He’s slightly curious.

“A,” the first one speaks. “You know, I spoke to her the other day in the library and she got so flustered, right. Who would have thought? And she’s rather adorable when she’s flustered too.”

Joonhwi hums. Children. That he thinks she would have been flustered by him, and not the amount of work she likely had to do, considering he likely interrupted her studying. 

Teasing Kang Sol A though, is rather fun he found, even from just cleaning Professor Kim’s office and their brief in-class back-and-forth with one another sometimes.

So that this boy thinks that he could fluster Sol A, when Joonhwi hasn’t even managed to do so yet, is mildly infuriating. Not that he’s jealous, no, just annoyed that this boy thinks that he could do what Joonhwi cannot do, yet. 

Opening his eyes, the door swings open and everyone straightens their shoulders, the two behind him stop whispering. It’s only the second day of class, but already everyone knows better than to make a sound when Professor Yang walks in. 

“Yang Jonghoon, the Criminal Code,” the professor announces. “Case number 2017D4114.” Right to the material then. Joonhwi clasps his hands in front of himself on the desk as Professor Yang continues. “Kim Cheolsu and Lee Yeonghui made a sex tape under consent in an affair. When Lee wanted to leave, Kim filmed the said video on his phone then sent the recorded video to Lee’s husband. The first and second trials found him guilty, but the Supreme Court acquitted him. What’s the key issue here?” Joonhwi straightens, mentally thinking through the case and the key issue just in case Yang calls on him. But Yang looks around, settling his gaze on Joonhwi’s left. “The high bun,” he calls out, and Joonhwi huffs slightly as Sol A frantically undos her bun. 

She drops the highlighter that she holds in her bun, and Joonhwi leans to pick it up, smiling slightly as he rises to his feet. He’ll humor her, he doesn’t care what Professor Yang says in response. Any chance to tease her. “I don’t think anyone in here has a high bun,” he says. Straightening up, he ignores the look Professor Yang sends him. “The main issue was Article 14 of the Act on Punishment of Sexual Crimes,” he continues. “It punishes those who use cameras to film another person's body or distribute the photograph or video. The key issue was if the word body should be taken literally. The first and second trials pronounced him as guilty, interpreting the image of a body as a person’s body. But the Supreme Court disagreed and found him innocent.”

Deciding to make his point even clearer, and for the potential of aggravating Sol A, he picks up his tablet, taking a picture of her sitting down. “If you film someone’s body directly, you’re guilty.” Joonhwi takes his phone out of his pocket, taking a photo of his tablet. “But it’s not a crime to take a photo of this.” Sol A furrows her brows at him before raising them, and Joonhwi turns back to Professor Yang. 

“And if you were the judge?” Professor Yang’s typical question, even after one class with him, Joonhwi can tell. 

“I’m with the Supreme Court,” he announces, placing his hands behind his back. “Criminal punishment abides by a principle of legality. We must stay away from interference.” Something that his uncle has failed to do. But whatever, Joonhwi will just have to prove that to everyone later.”

“That’s not right,” Sol A mutters. An idealist. Joonhwi blinks. She just gets more and more interesting really. 

But in this case, technically incorrect, yet also the root of the issue. “When we extend the interpretation of a body to photos or a video of someone,” he continues, also prepared to get her flustered for real, “then kissing this fellow student on the lips,” he mentally cheers seeing her shocked face out of the corner of his eye, “would be considered the same as kissing her photo. That’s not right.” 

She violently shrugs at him, rolling her eyes, and Joonhwi considers that, and her shocked face earlier, a win. 

“So it wasn’t a narrow interpretation?” Yang brings Joonhwi’s attention back, and Joonhwi mentally refocuses to the class, not annoying Sol A. 

“When it comes to the misapplication of people’s emotional acceptance, the law has been amended to include a person’s body as well as the re-recording of someone’s photo in the year 2018. The law was the issue, not the interpretation. Legislation is the solution,” Joonhwi concludes, a few nods in the class agreeing with him.

Professor Yang blinks, and Joonhwi prepares himself for him to say something. He’s not sure what exactly, but something. “Second-round judicial exam?” Joonhwi mentally sighs. Of course. Everyone’s heads turn to face him, and he knows he is going to be the source of gossip for weeks. 

He just nods. It’s all he can do now. 

“If you want me to remember you, you better not take away another student’s chances to answer anymore.” Nodding slightly, Joonhwi looks over at Sol A, who is slightly embarrassed. 

He sits as Yang continues, moving onto the next topic. 

But he did it. He got her to be shocked, and not about something relating to class. No, just something he said. Mentally smiling, he keeps his gaze on Yang, a warm feeling in his stomach. Teasing Sol A is fun. 

And unlike those boys he got her personally flustered. Not from a proxy. Something he’s rather proud of, even as his need to do so was only slightly irrational. He wasn’t jealous, no. Just wanting her attention that’s all. 

(It’s only later that Joonhwi realizes that this would be the first, but not the last time that he becomes irrational and jealous over something related to Sol A.)

2

Later, after the class, Kang Sol A runs into him. Straight up collides, like she’s forgotten something important. 

Brushing the wrinkles off his sweater as she stands there, he looks up. “Are you all right?”

She looks at him with something in her eyes. Anguish? Shock? Confused terror? Joonhwi never wanted to do that to her, he just wanted to annoy her a little. Pester her into being flustered. Not scare her. He raises his tablet. “I deleted the photos-”

Sol A points at him, “second-round judicial exam,” she calls out, and Joonhwi mildly wishes its his name instead, “save my life.” Then collapses towards him. 

Joonhwi barely manages to somewhat catch her. “What?”

“Tutor me,” she calls out. 

Joonhwi gives her a look. “So soon into term?”

“I figured I’d shoot my shot first before everyone else asks you,” Sol A shrugs, “let me know?”

Joonhwi nods slightly, even as she turns to quickly walk away. Interesting. 

Of course, less than an hour later, he hears her asking Seungjae something in the middle of the cafeteria, as the older, strangely quiet man gives a calm response in return. He tunes into the last bit of the conversation, right as Sol A does what she seems to do, blabbering out the legal principles, before getting to her feet. “Thanks Seungjae oppa,” she shoots him a grin and Joonhwi watches, “sorry to bother you.” She bows, then runs off like she’s late for something. But that’s clearly just her natural way of doing things from even a little time Joonhwi takes to observe her. 

“No problem,” Seungjae responds, and Joonhwi watches as he turns back to his book, saying that to her back. 

Perhaps he does want to tutor her now, if doing it will get her attention, her smile on him. A greedy, greedy part of him wants her to give him that look, to thank him for helping her in the same way. And if anything, tutoring her, like she offered, can only help him as well. Considering she asked him first. 

He looks down at his laptop, at the petition he has ready regarding his uncle. He can’t publicize the incident with the hit-and-run case, that’s Professor Yang’s to deal with once he sends it over to him. But he can draw a suspicion between the bribe, that he was acquitted of, and the donation with his uncle’s  subsequent new job as a professor.

That he can bring up. Sure, the school will consider it defamation and punish him, but that’s not Joonhwi’s point. The point is to make it clear to his uncle that he’d rather destroy any chance of working in law than have him as a professor. And he means it. This will prove it to his uncle, how much he means this. 

But the larger issue is then how to get enough people to sign it that the school takes notice of it. A dead petition is as meaningless as anything. No, he needs talk, chatter. At least with Professor Yang’s acknowledgement of him as a second-round judicial exam passer, people are interested in him tutoring them. 

Joonhwi hums, looking down at his laptop. He does, theoretically, have the time to tutor people. Can make the time, especially if that means he can stick it to his uncle like this. Is it childish? Yes. But he deserves to be a little childish at the least, if it means that his uncle will stop pestering him for a moment. 

Potentially putting up the tutoring offer with his petition seems to be the best idea now to get people behind him. At least that will make his classmates more likely to sign it.

Though he’s still going against the school in their minds, not his uncle. And after that hit-and-run and the subsequent cover-up of it, making a deal with Lee Manho of all people, Joonhwi knows his uncle doesn’t deserve to teach here. Joonhwi came to Hankuk, after all, so that he wouldn’t turn into his uncle. He refuses to learn from him. 

Plastering it to a board, he turns around, heading back to his room and ignoring the whispers that follow. 

He keeps an eye on it for the next few days, even as the school calls him out for it. And the Dean tells him he should get an attorney. 

He’s walking back to his room when Sol A catches him, questioning what’s with him and Professor Seo as she calls his uncle. Interesting. Out of every student, including members of the top of the class, she’s the first to consider that there’s something personal between the two of them. 

So he says it. What’s the harm really? Especially since the school is going after him. She drags him forward as he attempts to walk away, so Joonhwi turns to face her. “He’s my uncle,” he admits. 

She looks shocked, “what?” He walks away, but Sol A follows him. “Hey, Han Joonhwi,” she calls after him, “so you have it out for your own uncle? You want to ruin your own future because he betrayed your trust?” Joonhwi mentally raises an eyebrow. She has it right on the nose, despite that she doesn’t know it's the hit-and-run that’s motivating this. 

And when Sol A continues, admitting that she signed it, just so she can be tutored by him, Joonhwi mentally smiles. Even with all the shit he’s in now, he’ll take that. If she’s asking him for help, she won’t be asking Seungjae anymore. Or at least he’ll be there. He’s not jealous that she’s asking him, after all Seungjae is married. 

He convinces her to be his attorney, mentioning that no one else but her will go against the school like this. She eventually agrees, and if anything, he’s managed to get more time with her. Despite the situation he’s in, Joonhwi doesn’t care necessarily. He doubts his uncle will agree to expel him, even though he’s almost certainly going to lose. 

What’s more important is that Sol A agreed to be, and wants to be tutored by him. Formally, not like their informal sessions. Which is fantastic. 

Because why ask Seungjae when Sol A could ask him now?

It’s not jealousy, just practicality for her. He can help her, and even as annoyed at his uncle as he is, as well as Seungjae for helping her, now he can worry slightly less about both. Because Sol A wants his help. And smiling slightly, he heads back to his dorm, feeling a little better about all of this. 

(It was jealousy, he realizes a day later. After all, she can ask whoever she wants to for help. But something about having Sol A’s attention on him as he asks the questions he needs to for her to get it herself makes him happy. And he can’t lose that to anyone, especially another man.)

3

Sol ends up defending him against the school. And she actually does do it pretty well. Sure she wins, technically, against a former judge by arguing with him. Sure, a bit of a stretch, but it works no matter how she did it, by making herself look bad and then he took over. He was, after all, technically guilty under the way defamation laws are written. A false defamatory statement. But managed to argue his way out of it somehow. 

That is, after all, what he intended with it. Just to get people thinking about his uncle, more so than to actually state the presumed facts associated. 

The real case lies in Professor Yang’s hands, to do what he wishes with it, soon. 

But he wasn’t expelled. No, but he still had to issue a private apology to his uncle with the Dean present. Joonhwi just grit it out, swallowing what he actually wanted to say, then went to his tutoring group. Jiho, Sol B, Bokgi, Yeseul, Yebeom, Seungjae, and Sol. 

Once they finish, he stretches slightly as the rest take their books. 

“Unni?” Yeseul asks, looking at Sol who is still frantically highlighting and underlining, even as Yebeom and Bokgi both leave, the door closing behind them. “Should I hold a seat for you?”

Sol hums, and Joonhwi listens in, not quite ready to leave. “Sure, Yeseul-ah,” she mutters, then turns back to her notes. 

Yeseul smiles back, semi-apologetically, before filing out of the room with the rest. Joonhwi remains behind, moving to sit across from Sol, watching her frantically read through what looks to be the last case for Professor Yang’s class.

“Aren’t we done?” he asks, breaking the silence. 

Sol looks up in shock at him, only to frown. “Maybe you are, second-round judicial exam passer. Not me. I need a bit more time to get this down. Go on, leave.”

Joonhwi underlines a line from the paper with his pen however. “Just focus on this, and check out precedent 2018D45908. And eat something. You’ll collapse on a diet of caffeine before the exams. Or in an exam at the rate you’re going.” 

He’s concerned, but Sol takes it as an insult, as always. She’s quite sensitive, Joonhwi’s realizing over her perceived intelligence compared to the rest of them. He wants to tell her that it doesn’t matter, but she won’t believe him, and will just laugh it off as him being condescending. Smarts are what make up the average lawyer, but even his knowledge of precedents and legal work, being able to cite lines of text isn’t average.

What Sol doesn’t realize, but what Joonhwi knows Professor Yang as well as their classmates are beginning to understand, is that tenacity is equally as important. Finding the little details, past legal principles that have not been instituted for decades, even something as simple as a change in punctuation. Even just spending hours on every single case, while others may just gloss over some of the cases, feeling they already understand it.

Sighing, he pulls the textbook that Sol is studying away. 

“Eat,” he tells her, as she blows her bangs away from her eyes, looking annoyed. 

“Han Joonhwi,” she calls out, putting her pen in her hair. 

“Later,” he holds it over Sol’s head, “after you eat. That’s what Yeseul did, right? Went to grab you and her a table. So go, you can always study later?”

She groans at him, swiping at his shoulder. Joonhwi dodges, holding the door open. “You’re not invited,” she responds, and Joonhwi shrugs. “I have ramyeon. Much better than whatever the cafeteria has today.”

Sol barks a laugh at him, but makes her way out anyways, three books in her hands and backpack slung over one shoulder. Joonhwi gives over the one he’s holding, placing it on the top of her pile. 

Closing the door behind him, Joonhwi goes and makes his ramyeon, only to end up sitting at one of the cafeteria tables anyways. Sol, Yeseul, Bokgi, and Yebeom are all sitting together, and he watches as Sol steals a piece of meat off of Bokgi’s plate, then laughs at him. 

Smiling down at his ramyeon, he watches as Bokgi protests, before waving his own chopsticks at her and picking a grain of rice off of Sol’s own plate. 

He huffs at the way Sol smiles even then. He wants to be the one to do that. Give her food, or have her take food off of his plate. Crap. He likes her. 

He hates sharing food, not just his ramyeon, everything. Yet the idea of Sol sneaking food off of his plate, or even sharing with him, he doesn’t mind that idea at all. 

No, it gives him a sort of warm feeling instead. 

Sure, Joonhwi’s dated before, but even then he’s never felt that he liked someone to the point of wanting to share a meal with them. A drink at maximum, and that was after six months of dating in his final year of high school. 

Strange, that even liking Sol causes him to feel this way. He hums, taking the final bite of his ramyeon before throwing it out, walking away from her and the rest of them. 

Joonhwi wishes he can understand the reason why there’s a knot in his stomach. Yes, he likes Sol. But what exactly is this feeling? It can’t be jealousy. Joonhwi’s never been jealous a day in his life. 

Except, maybe when it comes to her. To Sol. 

(Of course, he thinks, reflecting an hour later, he found out he liked Sol only because he was jealous over her sharing food with others. Naturally. But when she steals an apple slice off of his plate when he starts sitting with them a week later, and gives him her rice instead, Joonhwi takes that. Not as a declaration of love, but of friendship. Sol shares with everyone; wants to help everyone. He can’t be jealous over a part of her personality, no matter how much he likes her. So he’ll wait and wonder for now.)

4

Joonhwi is realistic, even in like with Kang Sol. A confession is not what she needs from him right now, especially with the warning she received from the school about potentially needing to retake the first year if she fails in their second semester. 

A confession, one that she would probably deny due to her lack of self-esteem he’s learned over the course of their friendship, would really only make things much worse for her. So he just does what he always does for her, not anything more, despite sometimes sending her longing glances when he thinks she does not notice. 

Time passes, the first mock trial is arranged. He picks being the defendant, not wanting to do anything else in his uncle’s class. Not a prosecutor like his uncle would like, nothing related to practicing law. Just the defendant. 

He sends Professor Yang the video clip of the hit-and-run, wanting him to fess up and turn himself in. 

Then his uncle dies, is murdered by someone. Professor Yang is declared the main suspect, arrested and detained for it, but Joonhwi doubts that. He doesn’t have the motivation, especially with his want to prove the cold case solved, not murder the assailant that did it. 

So he makes himself another suspect, if only to get Professor Yang out of jail after being convinced he could not have. Sure, the school, excluding those who can get something out of him or want to turn against Professor Yang, turn against him, but that isn’t terrible. 

The only person who doesn’t turn against him and Professor Yang, though he’s not entirely sure why, is Sol. Who is convinced neither of them did it. 

When she manages to prove the autopsy his aunt asked for was faked, Joonhwi sighs. He knows he wasn’t to blame, but still, that autopsy made him worried for a brief moment. But with that all over, his name is cleared, and now Professor Yang looks a bit better, if only because of the mistakes the prosecution are making. 

But he can worry about the rest of everything, and what it all means in this trial regarding his uncle’s murder, later. 

Right now, he just wants a drink. And time to think. 

After grabbing a bottle of soju from his side of the mini-fridge, he sits at the center of the campus, staring at the statue of Lady Justice. Taking a swig, he leans back against the wall. Breathes out, looking down at his phone. 

It’s been a long stressful day, and Joonhwi will just take the moment to relax now that he can. Or at least get drunk enough that he can sleep decently tonight, without thinking about today. Either works. 

Taking another swig, he gulps it down, not even bothering to put it in the glass he brought to drink it out of initially. 

“Joonhwi,” he turns, definitely tipsy, to see Sol running towards him, a bottle in her hand as well. “Drinking tonight?”

He hums, remembering the first time she caught him drinking, after going out with some other people in their grade. He was only mildly upset, jealous he now realizes, something else that came with the realization that he likes her. 

Of course, being Kang Sol, she couldn’t accept that he likes drinking alone, and decided to invite him along. He had taken her up on it. Going out to drink was something, but every now and then, he managed to meet up with her as they also drank in the same location privately. It’s nice to talk to her, especially when he can just listen to her rant, happy that the happy-go-lucky Sol can vent out her frustrations, and that she doesn’t mind his presence with her. 

She brushes against his side, sitting closer than normal. 

A strange mix of grief and warmth, that’s what he’s feeling right now. Grief for his uncle, despite how he hated him towards the end. You hate the people you love the most when they prove you wrong about them. But warmth, that Sol is sitting by his side even now. 

He lets his mask drop, lets some vulnerability show as he downs the rest of the bottle then places it on the floor, green glass clicking against the stone. 

Closing his eyes, Joonhwi knocks his head against the wall, just once, like that can somehow erase the conflicting feelings and thoughts he has. 

“You told me,” he says, breaking the silence, “that you drink because you want to forget your problems, and to make your head and heart stop hurting. Does that really work?”

He’s being facetious, but is surprised when Sol hums, taking a sip of her drink. He can feel her gaze on him, and looks up to meet her eyes. 

There’s concern in her gaze. She takes a moment, placing her hand on the ground right next to his own. Their fingers don’t touch, but they brush against each other, and that warmth sinks into his bones despite the briefness of it. 

“You know,” she drops the bottle on the ground, and the clink of the glass breaks the silence even more. “I’m not quite sure if I believe what I say sometimes.”

Joonhwi hums at that, leaving his hand, fingers extended, just barely touching hers. She pats the back of his hand, before pushing the bangs out of her face. 

“Sorry,” she laughs, “I get a little touchy when I’m drunk. And I'm close to it now, I know you don’t like to be touched by strangers, so this is your warning. 

Joonhwi nods, not at all surprised that she noticed that. Sol is actually good at small details, she was even the one that figured out the autopsy was likely faked, though still says it was just a hunch, not anything more than that. 

“I don’t mind,” he mutters. “Not you anyways.”

Sol nods, not saying anything, and cracks open another bottle. Joonhwi watches as she drinks about half of it, before setting it down. “The secret,” she slurs her words slightly, and Joonhwi keeps his gaze locked on her. “The secret is believing it. Not that it really matters. It’s temporary. I can drink all I like, but I still end up back at the desk, straining my eyes over textbooks and stuck on the problems I try to forget about. But enough about me, why are you asking?” 

Joonhwi hums, looking away. “Thinking about my uncle.” Sol nods, spreading her arms out, and then collapses slightly against the wall and into him, a tangle of arms and legs after taking another gulp of her bottle of soju. 

“Sorry,” she laughs it off, “I told you, I get touchy.” Her legs press against his own as she moves herself back upright, pressing a hand against his chest. Helping her steady herself, he moves away, but wants to linger closer, to feel her warmth against him. 

He shakes himself out of that though. As much as he likes her, she doesn’t need his confession. Not with everything being stressful enough already. 

Sol giggles, clearly more drunk than tipsy as she finishes the bottle. “You know, you did a way better job at catching me than Bokgi and Yebeomie did. I almost fell because of those silly boys the last time I went drinking with them.”

A flare of actual jealousy breaks the tipsy haze Joonhwi is in. He stares at her in a certain amount of shock. “You went drinking with them?” he asks. 

“Mhm,” Sol sighs, “Yeseul too, but she had to leave early. They helped me back to campus. Quite considerate to their noona, hmm?”

Joonhwi nods, internally reminding himself that next time they go drinking he has to tag along. If they’re friends, that’s what he should do. Help her get back to her dorm safely after all. 

Grabbing her arm, he helps her to her feet. 

“Next time,” he stops himself. “Call if you need help,” he instructs, and she gives him a little nod. He gives her about a sixty percent chance she’ll remember this in the morning. Sighing, Joonhwi stands. “You can get back to the dorm safely, right?”

Sol nods at him. Picks up her half full bottle, and starts walking. She’s not stumbling, and it’s in the correct direction. She’ll be fine

Smiling to himself, feeling a little better than before. And hopes that next time, she’ll hopefully remember that she can always ask him to help her if she needs help. After all, for someone who helps him so much in small ways, he should do the same for her. 

He begins to pick up the empty bottles, placing them in a bin, before heading back to his own dorm, planning to make her a hangover soup in the morning. She’ll likely need it. 

(And walking back, reflecting on his jealousy, especially now that he knows he likes her, well, it doesn’t surprise him anymore. It is going to be a cold day in hell before he admits out loud that he hopes she doesn’t get as drunk with anyone else, if only because she’s rather touchy, and it would break him seeing her do that with someone else. He could piece himself together, sure. But the last time someone broke his trust, he was devastated. And now, though she doesn’t know it, he has hope in her, maybe even loves her. But he also hasn’t admitted to her, so resigning himself to just looking from afar. But that doesn’t mean his heart won’t break in two regardless. Hearts are fickle things, he knows, not at all like law. In fact, even more than like. He’s pretty sure it’s love at this point.)

5

In the realization that Joonhwi is in love with Sol, the subsequent actions of meeting her sister, with the remembering that she actually was the so-called senior whose textbooks he paid for, then working with her on the Bad FaMa case, and then catching Yeseul’s boyfriend in the act of sneaking in, have all and all done very little to distract him from loving her. They call each other incredibly frequently as well, text even more. Twice a day, minimally, when it comes to calls. 

Of course, the more time Joonhwi spends with Sol, the more he falls for her. It’s strange how that works, considering now with all the courtroom and their upcoming finals drama he can’t even tell her yet. 

He has a feeling that some of their classmates have begun to figure it out, but only just. And they call themselves law students. Embarrassing. It’s at the point that Joonhwi can’t even hide how gone for her he is. 

Except, Sol still hasn’t noticed, thinking his teasing and want to talk to her at every moment is a combination of friendship and duty towards the cases they are working on. Not that he’s completely head over heels for her. Would do anything, within the boundaries of law, for her. 

With Professor Yang’s trial, and Yeseul clearly acting as a surprise witness for some reason, their group hasn’t really had the opportunity to meet. But they have one tradition from the first semester, the study group. They all go out to eat before the pre-finals study grind. It’s their one meeting not in the copy room, where they talk about anything but law. Not that that went well last semester, a group of law students not talking about law is almost impossible. 

Joonhwi is not entirely sure that it’ll take place, but when he gets the text from Sol, he’s given a time and place. 

Seafood. 6 pm, I’ll send the address. You’re paying.

Okay.

Talk later?

10, I have to check on Byeol.

Joonhwi turns his phone back down, turning back to the text. There’s one inconsistency, where he knows that Yeseul is going to be bearing false witness. Professor Yang was not the last person to see his uncle. But there’s no good way, short of getting and hoping Yeseul will say the truth on the witness stand. 

But short of begging her, she’ll make the decision she does. All he can do is hope someone can convince her it is better for her to tell the truth, though what little he knows about that boyfriend of hers, he has a feeling that’s what she’s nervous about. 

He’s the first to arrive, finding a table for their group. Seungjae called out, saying it was date night, so it’s only the six of them. Or maybe he just didn’t want to deal with a group of half-adults. Joonhwi can understand him feeling that way sometimes, something about being around a group of people mostly younger than him has caused him to feel strangely protective of them and feel his age as well. In some aspects, they’re not as hardened towards the world as he is, in other areas it’s the opposite. 

Joonhwi can feel being an average of three years older than the rest of his year, even if Sol somehow manages to avoid getting referred to as such despite being the same age as him. She’s carefree, wild in a way that causes people to think she’s younger than him. Despite going to juvie , at Professor Yang’s recommendation which was revealed during his trial, she’s naturally just outgoing and naive in such an intriguing way, that Joonhwi realizes is something that he finds interesting about her. 

Sol runs up with Yeseul by her side, giving him a nod. “We aren’t late?”

“No,” he responds, casting a glance at Yeseul. “There’s going to be no talk of the trial at the table. If someone mentions it, I’ll shut them down. 

Yeseul gives him a nod, tucking her hair behind her ear. “Thank you Joonhwi oppa,” she responds, and he nods as Jiho, Yebeom, and Bokgi arrive. Sol B arrives a moment later. 

Joonhwi gives them a nod. “I’ll be paying,” he announces, “but as a result, nothing about my uncle’s trial.” He infuses his tone with the authority his drill instructors used to use, the same tone Professor Yang uses as well. At their nods, he turns. “Good, the table is ready.”

He ignores the whispers from Bokgi and Yebeom as the rest of them follow him, sitting around the table. Sol B on his left, with Jiho on his right, and then Sol across from him, despite the fact that it is a round table Joonhwi feels like he’s at the head of it. 

Sol orders, and Joonhwi nods at it, waving the server away. 

“So,” Bokgi raises a hand, “anyone else curious as to how Joonhwi hyung can sound like Professor Yang?”

Twisting off a cap, Joonhwi pours some soju into his glass, before downing it. “That was actually the tone of my squad captain.” He puts the glass down. “Be glad I didn’t curse at you the way he did.”

Sol claps her hands together, clearly sensing he wants to end that conversation there. She’s quite good at social gatherings, or at least has an excellent sense for when he wants a conversation to be over as well. 

“Enough of that,” she smiles at them, and somehow Joonhwi almost feels like they’ve suddenly become parents. “No questions about the trial, and let’s try nothing about law in general, okay?”

“How is that possible?” Sol B asks, raising her glass. “That’s all we talk about. It’s not like any of you talk about personal things. What else is there?”

“Your parents-”

“Law.” Sol B responds to Jiho, “and you’ve known me for so long, why do they matter now?”

Joonhwi coughs, stopping his roommate from continuing. “Fine then,” he interrupts. “Eat first. Pretend you’re an undergraduate again if you have to.”

They hum at that, everyone but him and Sol A, memories of undergrad clearly still clear for them. 

Even Sol B gives him half a smile, and Joonhwi’s life would be easier if Sol didn’t think he liked Sol B just because she likes him.

“Then,” Bokgi grins, “I don’t know what the rest of you talked about, but it would have to be gossip. Did you hear about Jimin and Dae? Apparently they’re dating now. That would be the fourth couple in our year.”

“Me and oppa don’t count?” Yeseul asks. “I know the rest, but really?”

“Pre-school relationships don’t count. Besides, I’m not counting Seungjae hyung either.”

“Bets are the same?” she asks, and wow Joonhwi actually had no idea that there is a betting pool in their year. 

“Should future practitioners of law be betting, especially on romantic relationships?” Sol B asks harshly, and Joonhwi nods, getting her point. 

“Ah,” Bokgi grins. “You know, people have lost a lot of money on us. Apparently they were expecting by now that some of us would be in relationships with other members of the group. But I suppose the whole thing-that-cannot-be-mentioned that threw those bets off.”

“You know too much,” Sol snorts. “Spend more time studying then listening to our classmate’s whispers.”

“Oh, noona,” he turns to her, and Joonhwi keeps his gaze locked on the two of them. “There is something you could help me out with.”

“A bet?”

“Naturally,” Bokgi winks, and Sol rolls her eyes, taking a sip of her beer, clearly deciding to be the responsible one for the night. 

“Unni,” Yeseul grabs her arm, and Joonhwi watches as Sol pats her back. 

“It’ll be fine. Lay it on me, what?”

“Just if you’ve ever dated before noona. It’s a pretty solid bet, about sixty-forty give or take.”

Joonhwi is incredibly close to saying something, this personal of a question being fucking gossip? That people are betting on? Sure, he doubts they know he’s in love with her, but something about the words Sol and dating together fill him with some sort of strange jealousy.

Sol laughs at that though. “I don’t want to know which way.” She sets her glass down. “Ah, it depends. Do you want to see me prosecuted for identity fraud?”

At that, Joonhwi stares at her, the rest turning to face her as well. How does identity fraud come up in regards to dating?

Sol laughs at the looks on their faces, but Joonhwi isn’t as amused. The statute likely hasn’t expired if she has committed it, the last thing she should be doing is joking about it. 

“Well, I have a twin,” she traces the rim of her glass, smiling. “Kang Dan. We’re identical. She was the smart one, the popular one, the rational one, you know?” Joonhwi keeps his eyes on her, even as she looks like she isn’t even present in the conversation. “The only way anyone could tell us apart was our hair. I had a bun and wavy hair, hers was straight.” Joonhwi gets where this is going, and does his best to remember caveats in every identity fraud and theft case he knows. “She was asked out a lot. Not me though. So I’d go on the dates for her, just the people she couldn’t really turn down, who just wanted one date. Then after that date, I’d tell them no and walk away. So, Han Joonhwi?” Joonhwi looks up, shocked that Sol’s calling his name. “Is it identity fraud? Should I worry about a case coming my way?’

Joonhwi looks at the ceiling, sighing. Then looks at her, pouring another glass and downing it. “No,” she looks over at him,  and he shakes his head. “All precedents and laws relating to identity fraud in Korea are based only in the financial aspects of fraudulent identity theft. Even a recent legal bill only prohibits the use of personal information without consent, but it applies only to those who use personal information for official or business purposes, not to personal use. Of course ethically it is wrong. But unless your twin took you to court, or the boyfriends involved do, there’s just no precedent.”

“How many dates?” Yebeom asks, like that’s what matters. “Two? Five? Ten?” 

Sol laughs even harder. “Don’t ask. And they wouldn’t bring me to trial. And Dan would have to be in Korea, and let me tell you, she has more things to worry about than what I did under her ask.”

She steers the conversation away, and Joonhwi stews. Of course she’s dated before, sort-of as she put it. At least she didn’t care about the others, Joonhwi can’t believe he feels relief at that. Sure, he’s had an ex, five to be exact, but those relationships were mostly short. 

But that also explains the self-esteem thing, he realizes, as to why Sol struggles to believe he could like her over Sol B. 

But that just means he’ll have to prove it, once this is all over. 

(It’s this moment, Joonhwi realizes lying in bed after his nightly call with her, that he’s committed to his confession. He has to tell her. And hopefully, hopefully she feels the same way.)

+1

Being on the witness stand and questioned regarding his relationships with his friends and his crush is just not what Joonhwi wanted. He also can’t believe that Ko Junior believed that saying Yeseul was two-timing him with Joonhwi would actually work. Is especially annoyed at how well Prosecutor Bae frames it so it seems likely, and how Park continues the argument. 

He really wishes that he could just say that he is in love with Sol. But he can’t. Because his confession should not come from a witness stand. 

So instead, when asked, he brings up Sol B instead, implying wanting to protect her for school-related reasons. That mostly goes through, and despite the teasing and questions from Sol, it is what it has to be. 

She deserves something then being told he likes her from Prosecutor Park of all people questioning him. And then Joonhwi would have to thank the man for helping him with his love life. So just no. 

Bokgi teases Sol about being jealous for some reason, when Joonhwi asks about Sol B and she asks him why she cares. 

And maybe he wants to say something now to her. So when they agree to drink even more to celebrate, arranging for Bokgi to get drinks while Yeseul gets changed, Joonhwi sits down on the bleachers with Sol. 

“I want to tell you something,” he says. “Please just listen.”

She nods, just as serious as he is. “I don’t like Sol B.” She laughs at that, and Joonhwi frowns. “I seriously don’t.”

She continues giggling like it’s the funniest thing on Earth. “And I’m supposed to believe you? Come on, Han Joonhwi. You can’t say a statement in court with no evidence, you know this better than the rest of us, second-round judicial passer.”

He faces her, hands on his knees. 

“What evidence would you accept, Your Honor?” he asks, playing along. But also curious. 

“Hmm,” Sol raises an eyebrow, hair blowing in the wind, stretching. He wants to nose at her neck, press gentle kisses along the length of it, toy with her hair that’s down for once instead of being up. But instead, Joonhwi waits. “I don’t know,” she continues. “But you’re the prosecution here, make me believe you.”

“Well,” Joonhwi hums, “feelings are difficult to prove in a court of law. Would the judge accept physical evidence?”

“Physical evidence?” she asks, and he stands, moving closer to her side. Holding a hand out, she takes it, and he rubs at the callouses on her hands, feeling her fingertips dance across his own. 

“If Your Honor permits?” Sol nods once and he moves even closer. “What would a kiss prove my devotion?” he asks, tracing a hand close, almost touching her face. 

He can hear her breath catch, as close to her as she is. Then presses in even closer, until her mouth is only an inch away from his, until he can feel her breath against his lips. 

Then he closes his eyes, and breaches the gap. Presses their lips together, her hands coming up to grasp at the back of his neck, not breaking their kiss, the press of their lips together causing his heart to race.

Breaking it, her arms still slung around his back, he gives Sol a smile. “Is that enough for Your Honor?”

“Hmm,” she presses her lips together, and Joonhwi resists the urge to kiss her again. “I don’t know, isn’t kissing a judge an insult to the court of law?”

“Contempt,” he responds back, though she already knew that, an echo of one of their early conversations. She smiles at him. “And it’s not. You agreed.”

“Yes, yes.” She sighs, “I was so sure you liked B, not me.”

Joonhwi caresses the side of her face. “You’re the only Sol that matters to me.”

“What do we do now?”

Joonhwi blinks. “We date. It’s up to you if you want to tell the rest, that’s your choice.” He kisses her knuckles. “I’m just happy to have you,” he beams at her.

“Right now then.” Sol gives him a smile. “I don’t want attention off of Yeseul yet. She needs time for people to care about her, not about us.”

Joonhwi nods. “Very well. But if someone decides to hit on you, I reserve the right to let everyone know.”

“Ah? So you’re jealous. Shouldn’t I be?”

“Not jealous,” he smiles back. “That would be quite human of me. And didn’t you know? I’m a law-ciopath.”

At that, Sol snorts. “You’re anything but that, Joonhwi. I know you best. Even with your fear of puppies.”

“It’s the trauma,” he exclaims, laughing. Kissing her on the cheek once, only to dance away, playing a hand on her shoe as Yeseul arrives. 

They drink, and he takes a weak moment to caress her hand as she complains about Professor Yang making her defend Lee Manho. Joonhwi has been wondering the same thing, sometimes Yang’s actions can make no sense, and he’s normally pretty good at understanding those decisions due to their truce. So he just listens instead, as she drunkenly leans into him, loving the feeling of her head against his chest, and basking in the knowledge that they are a couple. 

-

And two days later, when one of the second-year students comes up to her with a flower and a visible question in mind, he slips to her side. The student appears to be right in the middle of a confession. “May I take you on a da-”

“No.” Raising a hand, stopping him, Joonhwi holds his other hand out for her. Sol takes it, rolling her eyes at him. “You cannot. Because she’s dating me.” Holding up their intertwined fingers, he places a kiss to her cheek. 

Winking at her, he smiles. They walk off together, ignoring the whispers, towards Professor Yang’s class. Once they’re far enough away, she turns to whisper in her ear. 

“That lasted a day longer than I anticipated. I thought you’d give it up when Beomsoo gave me food.”

He shakes his head. “I can deal with that. But confessing to you? That’s a step too far.”

“So you’re jealous?” she grins up at him, expecting him to deflect, he knows. 

So Joonhwi doesn’t. Instead, he just smiles. “I am. Of course I am. I have such a lovely girlfriend. I’ll have to recruit Byeol to keep all the rest away.”

“Joonhwi,” she groans at him. 

“I’m joking,” he laughs back, smiling as they continue towards Yang’s classroom. “But not about my love for you.”

She gives him a smile, not a jokey one, but a serious one, that makes him fall even more for her. “Believe me, Joonhwi. I know.” Sol pecks his lips, giving him a quick kiss, before darting away through the classroom door. “Look away from me, I can’t focus with your eyes on me,” she calls out as he follows her through. 

Joonhwi just shakes his head, but does as she says, turning to face the other side of the classroom rather than the aisle that separates the two of them. But he can’t help but smile a little. Like his eyes are ever not on her. 

As Professor Yang walks in, he straightens, seeing Sol do the same. Class begins, and he refocuses back to the class material. But in one corner of his mind, Joonhwi knows that he’ll be thinking about her. 

He always is. 

Has been since the first day. But this time, it’s not thinking in regards to being jealous, or unrequited friendship, like, or love. Because Sol’s all of that now. His friend, his girlfriend. Sure, they have things to talk about, but with Sol by his side, and Joonhwi by hers, he knows that there is nothing they cannot do together.