- Chapter Twenty-five -
As Mai hurriedly shoved her books and papers into her schoolbag, she felt a hard slap on her back.
A glare slipping onto her face, Mai turned around, ready to scold and jump on the person who had just hit her, "Yah! Whoever just hit me better run for their life!" she threatened, whipping her head around.
"Yeah, whatever," was Ha Neul's response, "Are you coming or is your plan to make everyone wait all day?"
Confusion washing over Mai's face, all thoughts of beating up Ha Neul had been forgotten, "What are you talking about? Why are you guys waiting for me?"
Sighs erupted from the group of Mai's friends. "Did you already forget our Friday ritual of hanging out?" Tae Young asked in an exasperated tone.
Realizing what her friends were talking about, Mai hit her head, "Oh my god! I totally forgot about that – I'm so sorry. I was planning on going to Yoon Suk's school to see if he wanted to hang out."
"Oh," Soo Ah said, her tone going flat, "So you're not coming with us today?"
An idea popping into her head, Mai smiled brightly, "Can I bring Yoon Suk along with us?" she asked hopefully, not wanting to let her friends down.
"Sure," Soo Ah agreed, "Do you know if he has any hot friends that he could bring for the rest of us?"
Mai smirked and glanced at Ha Neul, "I don't know. They might all be taken. But Ha Neul doesn't need one anyways; she already has Tae Bin."
Ha Neul only scowled. "Do you want us to come with you or would you like to go alone and meet us there?"
Mai shrugged and lifted her bag around her head, "It doesn't matter – whatever you guys want to do."
"We'll come with you!" Soo Ah exclaimed, linking her arm into Mai's as the four of them started to walk, "Your boyfriend's school is loaded with hot guys!"
Mai had to laugh.
"Does Yoon Suk know that he's hanging out with us today?" Ha Neul asked as they entered the school gates.
Mai smiled sheepishly as she reached up to scratch her head, "Not yet, but he will."
"I'm not sure if this is such a great idea," Ha Neul looked hesitant, "Remember what happened last time you came here on a surprise visit?"
A hurt expression washed over Mai's face but she was quite quick to recover, "Well that was then and this is now. That was Chil Hyun and this is Yoon Suk. It's different."
"If you say so," Ha Neul replied, though was clearly unconvinced.
Looking back and forth between the two best friends as they walked, Soo Ah turned to Ha Neul apologetically, "I'm going to have to agree with Mai on this one. Only one out of the many times that Mai came here to surprise Chil Hyun did she find him even interacting with another girl. Yoon Suk doesn't seem like the type to cheat but if that's the case, then maybe it's all for the better that we're coming here so that Mai can catch her mistake before it's too late."
"Yoon Suk is not cheating on me," Mai informed her friends firmly, "Just because Chil Hyun did doesn't mean every other guy in the world will do the same."
"Really?" Ha Neul raised her eyebrows, "Then who's that girl he's flirting with?"
Mai stopped short, following Ha Neul's gaze. Her eyes followed her best friend's gaze to rest on the sight of Yoon Suk and another girl, leaning against the lockers and conversing, "What are you talking about Ha Neul? You're even more paranoid than me. They're probably just friends!"
"Do friends always touch each other like that?" Ha Neul pointed out as they stopped walking to watch Yoon Suk lightly touch the girl's arm as she blushed.
Taking a deep breath, Mai managed to calm herself down while she turned to her friend and spoke in a bitter tone, "Well you and Tae Bin sure touch each other like that!" As soon as she said the words, Mai immediately regretted it. She hadn't meant for the comment to come out so harshly.
"That's because I like Tae Bin!" Ha Neul shot back, her voice raising and causing a few people around them to turn and stare.
"You like me?" a voice came from behind them.
All four girls turned around to see Tae Bin standing directly behind Ha Neul, a shocked expression on his face.
Ha Neul cursed under her breath, and then quickly rushed away with Tae Bin right at her heels.
Knowing that Ha Neul and Tae Bin probably needed some time to themselves, Mai and her friends turned their attention back to Yoon Suk and the girl who were still flirting openly, still oblivious to all of their surroundings.
"Do you want us to beat him up for you?" Tae Young asked with a devilish glint in her eyes as she cracked her knuckles.
"That won't be necessary," Mai said calmly, though her teeth gritted as her jaw clenched, "He's not cheating on me." She wasn't sure who she was trying to convince.
Rolling her eyes and sighing in exasperation, Soo Ah frowned, "Kuraki Mai, get your over there and take your man back before I do it for you. You must be the most naive girl I've met in my entire life. Ha Neul did not just yell out loud that she likes Tae Bin for nothing! We'll meet you at noraebang and if you even think of showing up without Yoon Suk at your arm, you're dead."
With that, Soo Ah and Tae Young linked arms and walked away, leaving Mai alone.
Drawing in a deep breath, Mai looked back towards Yoon Suk and reluctantly walked towards them, ignoring the jealousy weighing down on her with each step she took.
"So what are you doing tonight?" the girl was asking in a babyish voice that made Mai automatically jealous, not that she hadn't been already. She frowned, wondering why she couldn't sound the same.
Fiddling with his hands, Yoon Suk replied, "I don't know; not much really. I was thinking of getting started on studying for the history test next week."
"Then would you like to go out with me?" the girl asked shyly in that same childish voice. At this point, Mai wanted so badly to walk up and smack the girl, announcing that Yoon Suk was hers, but stopped herself short of doing so.
Yoon Suk will handle this, Mai reminded herself, He'll just turn the girl down and inform her that he already has a girlfriend.
"I should really start studying," Yoon Suk insisted.
Her jaw tightening, Mai wanted so badly to backtrack and stick with her original plan of giving the girl a piece of her mind but again reassured herself once more with the fact that at least Yoon Suk hadn't agreed to go.
A disappointed look on the girl's face, she nodded her head and smiled, "Okay, well I should get going. My oppa is probably starting to get worried…"
Yeah , Mai snarled silently, Run away and. Just stay away from my boyfriend.
"Well, do you want me to walk you home?" Yoon Suk offered, causing Mai's stomach to drop.
What. The. Hell, she thought inwardly, her jaw dropping after hearing what Yoon Suk had said, just barely stopping herself from voicing her opinions out loud. Against her will, tears glistened in her eyes and Mai forcefully swallowed them back.
The girl blushed but politely declined the offer, "That'd be nice but my oppa picks me up from school so you don't have to do that. Thanks anyways! Maybe some other time."
Yoon Suk nodded and leaned forward, wrapping his arms around the girl's waist and embracing her lightly.
A mixture of anger and jealousy surged through Mai's body as she watched the two of them hug. He never hugged me good bye before we started going out, she couldn't help but to notice.
As if things weren't bad enough, the girl turned her head slightly and planted a small kiss on Yoon Suk's cheek, then quickly hurried down the hall, passing Mai along the way.
Yoon Suk quickly reached up and wiped the spot that she had kissed while he picked up his bag from the floor with his other. Lifting himself off the locker, he turned to see Mai, standing not too far away with a cold expression upon her face.
Her eyes narrowed, cheeks flushed with anger, lips formed into a tight line. Yoon Suk wasn't stupid. He knew that he had blown it.
"Done flirting?" she asked in a frosty tone, her voice so cold that it could cut ice.
His teeth biting down on his lower lip as a habit of nervousness, Yoon Suk advanced towards his angry girlfriend who was still leaning against the lockers, looking at him in utter disgust.
"She's just a friend," he insisted.
Mai raised an eyebrow, "Oh really?" she said flatly. Pushing herself off of the locker, she turned towards Yoon Suk and asked, "Do friends always blush when talking to each other, touch one another every chance they get, ask each other out, talk in baby voices to make themselves sound sweet, offer to walk home with one another, hug them good bye and kiss each other?!"
As she talked, her voice unknowingly raised louder and louder, all reminders of staying calm being forgotten.
Looking down at his feet in unease, Yoon Suk attempted to apologize, "Look, I'm really sorry, okay? I only think of her as a friend."
Mai heaved a small sigh and ran a hand through her hair, forcing herself regain control over her emotions, "Yeah well that's not what she thinks of you."
"It doesn't matter what she thinks of me, or anyone else for that matter," Yoon Suk replied, placing his arms on Mai's shoulders and forcing her to look directly in his eyes, "Mai, I only love you; no one else. You of all people should know that…"
Softening slightly under his touch, Mai found herself nodding her head. However, as soon as she realized what she had done, she quickly shook his hands off of her and looked away, cursing.
"I guess that's what I get for falling for a flirt," she muttered with a resigned sigh.
Yoon Suk pretended to look offended, though inside, he was smiling, already knowing that he was half-way to getting Mai to forgive him, "Hey, I'm not a flirt! The only person I flirt with is you!"
Mai scoffed, "Yeah right. What were you doing just now? We seem to have different definitions of flirting."
"I wasn't flirting with her!" Yoon Suk insisted, throwing his hands in frustration.
Mai shot him a disbelieving look, "Do we need to go over this again? She kissed you and asked you out. You hugged her and offered to walk her home. She blushed and you touched her. What do you want me to think, Yoon Suk? Or is this just how you treat all girls?!"
Not knowing how to answer, Yoon Suk didn't respond.
For a few minutes, the two of them just stood there in the middle of the deserted hallway of Yoon Suk's school, not saying a word. Mai was seething in anger and Yoon Suk was musing over his mistakes, yet neither of them knew what would become of the next moments, and were afraid to find out.
Taking a deep breath, Mai finally said, "I can't do this, Yoon Suk. I don't want to be suspicious of you whenever I'm not in your presence just because I never know who you're out there flirting with. Maybe we should just take a—"
But before she could finish, Yoon Suk rushed to stop her, galvanized into action at the realization of what he might lose, "No! Please don't do this, Mai. We can figure out a way around this. I know we can. Just please don't break up with me."
", Yoon Suk," Mai cursed again, "What is there left to say? What is there left to do? Maybe we're just not meant for each other. You're a guy who flirts a lot. I'm a girl who gets jealous. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't really think that combination works well together."
"I'm really sorry," Yoon Suk insisted in a softer voice, "From now on, I'll try to change. The only girl I'll flirt with is you so there'll be no need for you to be jealous or to worry."
"Why'd you offer to walk her home? Why'd you hug her? Why didn't you just tell her you have a girlfriend when she asked you out?" Mai persisted, ignoring Yoon Suk's apology.
"She's just my friend. She lives really close to me so that's why I offered to walk her home. I didn't think of telling her about you because I didn't know that she was asking me out. But would you like me to tell her and every other girl that I talk to that I have you?"
"And the hug?" Mai asked, biting her lower lip, her tone softening.
It was now that Yoon Suk looked away, "It's a natural thing, Mai. I hug everyone…"
"Even BoA?" Mai asked, her eyebrows raised and her upper teeth still grazing her lower lip. She had to know.
Hanging his head low, Yoon Suk admitted, "I used to… before I met you."
"Then what's so special about this girl?" Mai demanded to know. It seemed as though the more they talker, the angrier she was growing, "Why did you stop hugging BoA but not her?"
", Mai!" Yoon Suk cursed in frustration, "What do you want me to do? I won't hug her or any girl for that matter, okay? From now on, the only girl I'll even do so much as touch is you. What do you want from me? I said I'm sorry and that she's just a friend but you still continue to believe that there's something more." Then in a quieter voice, he repeated softly, "What do you want me to do? I just want you to forgive me. I don't want to break up over this…"
A lump formed in her throat, Mai opened her mouth to speak yet no words seemed to come out. So instead, she just nodded her head and reached forward, embracing Yoon Suk in a tight hug.
As he held her, Yoon Suk's shirt gradually began to dampen from Mai's tears. Feeling them dropping onto his school uniform, Yoon Suk began to rock his girlfriend back and forth in his arms, humming softly the first tune that popped into his head. He tugged her even closer, his heart wrenching knowing that he had been the cause of these tears. He hadn't realized he'd pushed her to such an extent. He hadn't realized she cared so much.
After a few minutes, Yoon Suk ceased singing and resorted to whispering into Mai's ear, "Don't cry," he consoled her, "I'm here; I'm not going anywhere. I promise I won't flirt with any girl other than you, okay?"
Mai just nodded her head, her face still pressed into Yoon Suk's shirt but her tears stopped, "I'm sorry I'm so insecure," she apologized, her voice muffled.
He moved to kiss Mai's forehead, smiling softly and holding her close, "It's okay. I actually thought I was going to lose you… don't do that, okay? You really scared me."
Returning his grin, Mai said, "If I ever try to run away from you, just hold me back and I'll stay…"
"I'll keep that in mind," he responded, nuzzling his face into her silky, dark brown hair, "Mmm… I wish we could stay like this forever."
But then Mai's cell phone started to ring.
Looking at her boyfriend apologetically, Mai broke free from Yoon Suk's hold and opened her bag to take out her cell phone. The moment she flipped it open, a high-pitched yell came sounding through,
"Yah! Kuraki Mai! How long does it take to kiss and make up?!"
It was Ha Neul.
Mai frowned into her phone as Yoon Suk started chuckling from in front of her, "Kim Ha Neul, aren't you supposed to be working things out with Tae Bin right now?"
From the other end, Ha Neul scoffed and Mai could only image her rolling her eyes, "Are you kidding me?! You actually thought that I would hang around him knowing that he knows that I like him?! That's crazy! I ran away and didn't look back."
"How do you know he's not right behind you?" Mai asked, holding back her laughter.
"What are you talking about? Of course he's not—"
But Ha Neul's talking was cut short when Mai heard a faint, "Hi," in the background. Already knowing that Ha Neul was going to forget about her, Mai just closed her phone and decided to ask for details later.
"Sorry about that," Mai said, turning her attention back to Yoon Suk.
He smiled, "It's okay. So why were you at my school anyways? Did you want something?"
Kicking at the ground, Mai muttered quietly, "I came here to surprise you but I guess I should stop doing that. Every time I come here to surprise someone, things never turn out right."
Lifting her chin, Yoon Suk shot her a smile that sent her heart racing, "Well you won't have to worry about that anymore, okay?"
Mai just nodded.
"Do you want to go somewhere? I don't really have to study. That was just an excuse," he admitted.
Suddenly remembering her friends, she nodded her head, "Do you want to go to noraebang with my friends? I know it's not the most exciting thing but my friends said that if I show up without you then they're going to kick my ass."
Yoon Suk's eyes eyes crinkling slightly in laughter. Taking Mai's hand in his, he gave it one good squeeze and leaned closer, speaking softly into her ear, "Okay then, let's go and save your ass."
Grinning from ear to ear, Mai squeezed Yoon Suk's hand back and asked, "If they try to kick my ass anyways just because they feel like it, will you protect me?"
"Of course," he replied, "I'll do anything to save your ass."
"Alright then," Mai laughed, "Let's stop talking about my ass."
Grinning broadly, Yoon Suk nodded obediently and walked silently alongside his girlfriend. However, a minute later, he couldn't stop himself from pouting slightly and adding, "But your ass is a really nice ass…"
"Yah!" Mai yelled, frowning and hitting the back of his head lightly, "Are you checking out my ass? When did you check out my ass? Aish, you perverted freak!"
Yoon Suk paused and looked at Mai for a moment then asked, "Then would you rather have me check out other girl's asses?"
"AHHHH!" Mai yelled in frustration, causing a few pedestrians passing by to look her way, "MY BOYFRIEND IS A BYUN TAE (pervert)!"