- Chapter Twenty-six -

Mai covered her mouth as she yawned widely. It was the end of the school day and she was tired, bored, and desperate to get out.

Glancing at the clock for the fifth time in the past three minutes, it was to Mai's disappointment that the minute hand had not even changed a bit from the last time she checked.

"… Since class is almost over I'll end by giving you guys the letters from your pen pals," her teacher was saying, "When I call your name, please come up here to retrieve yours. I expect a reply at least a page long, handwritten by Friday."

At this news, Mai visibly straightened in her chair, eager to hear from her pen pal. Already, a month had passed since they came back to school.

"Son Tae Young," Mrs. Jung called off, holding out a rather thick envelope decorated with purple flowers. Mai assumed that her friend's pen pal was a girl.

After Tae Young had walked up to retrieve it, Mrs. Jung looked down at the next letter in the pile and called out, "Park Han Byul."

Mai cringed at the name, remembering how Ha Neul had informed her that she was about to go and hit on Yoon Suk. Anger arose in Mai but she instantly forced it down.

And finally it was her turn. "Kuraki Mai," Mrs. Jung called, this time with a plain, white envelope in her hand, her name written across it.

Because her pen pal and Mai had agreed not to exchange names, they had requested that their teachers addressed the envelopes instead.

Snatching the sealed envelope from her teacher's hands, Mai tore into it even before she had sat back down.

Unfolding the letter inside, Mai eagerly started to read:

Dear Chun Sa,

I've decided to abide your request only because I don't think that the girl I like would like a girl other than her to be my princess… only she can have that title! You never know, just because you have a boyfriend doesn't mean that you're not one of those girls that is a player and thinks about guys other than her own.

I really do miss the girl that I like even though I was the one who broke things off. I have my reasons that are kind of personal so that just sucks for you because I'm not going to share them. I only tell my FRIENDS that kind of stuff and sorry but you don't qualify as one of those yet. Haha I'm kidding but the truth is that she doesn't know either so I think that she deserves to know before you. Once I tell her (someday), I'll be sure to inform you – how's that for a deal? ^^

I can't believe that your boyfriend got jealous of me just because I wrote you a letter but then again… how could he not? After all, how many people are lucky enough to have such a charming and hot pen pal like me?! Consider yourself honored to even have the chance to talk to me because I usually don't even talk to girls.

HOWEVER… my teacher insists to force me to talk to you -_-; Even though it is only February, I already have plans for Spring Break! And guess what! I'm coming to Seoul, Korea! That's where you live, right? So I was thinking that maybe we could meet up while I'm visiting and you could finally be introduced to my sexiness. If your stupid boyfriend is jealous then you can tell him to come along with you but he might be a bit bored since he doesn't even know me. X_x; Oh well though; whatever you want is fine by me.

Just tell me where you'd like to meet and when and hopefully we'll meet! This is so cool because I've never actually met a pen pal before – only write and lose contact. Okay well I have nothing more to say so bye. Write me back and it better be longer than this!

Hey, I have an idea. How about we have a competition? Each time we write to each other, our letter must be longer than the last one that the other sent. That way we'll never get bored and we will always have a really~~ long letter to look forward to! Yes, you're probably wondering how such a pretty face like mine could have thought of such a great idea like that, aren't you? Well, just to let you know, I'm not like those other airhead guys who flunk every class they take! I actually have the brains to match my face ^^

The Best Pen Pal You Ever Had (I'll lay off the love so your boyfriend can sleep well at night),

Ggot Mi Nam

Mai let out a laugh as she folded up the paper and looked up to see Ha Neul, staring down at her with a weird expression on her face.

"Ready to go?" she asked.

Realizing that school had already ended and Ha Neul had been waiting for her to finish reading, Mai nodded and quickly shoved her belongings in her bag, then slung it over her shoulder and headed out of the classroom with Ha Neul right at her side.

"So why were you smiling so widely while reading your pen pal's letter? What'd he say?"

The excitement before immediately came rushing back to Mai, "Guess what! Guess what!"

Faking a yawn, Ha Neul guessed, "He likes you. Yay, another hot guy likes Kuraki Mai. Please tell me something new."

Rolling her eyes at her friend's sarcastic comment, Mai smacked the back of Ha Neul's head and decided, "Maybe I shouldn't tell you to guess anymore. You were way off. He already is head over heels for some other girl."

"So what's so great then?" Ha Neul asked in a dry, disinterested tone as they walked outside and headed towards the front gates.

Jumping up and down on the balls of her feet, Mai shouted really loud, "MY PEN PAL'S COMING TO KOREA FOR SPRING BREAK AND HE WANTS TO MEET ME!"

"Really?" a voice said from a few feet in front of them.

Mai looked over to see Yoon Suk pushing himself off of the front gates of her school. Momentarily forgetting about her pen pal, she rushed forward, easily covering the few feet that stood in between them and threw herself onto her boyfriend, "Oppa! You didn't tell me you were coming today!"

Yet surprisingly enough, Yoon Suk didn't reach up to return the hug.

Confused by his actions, Mai drew back and noticed the frown on his face. She looked questioningly to Ha Neul who had her eyebrows raised and shrugged her shoulders, then turned back to Yoon Suk and reached up, placing a hand on his shoulder, "Yoon Suk ah, what's wrong?"

But instead of answering, Yoon Suk just turned his head, ignoring Mai's question.

Shifting her weight awkwardly from foot to foot, Ha Neul realized that the two needed time alone and nudged Mai subtly, "I'll take a rain check on that movie, okay? We'll go tomorrow instead."

Mai just nodded her head, hardly paying any attention to her best friend and now more absorbed in Yoon Suk's unusually cold behavior.

Letting her hands drop to her side in disappointment, Mai bit her lip and tilted her head slightly, "Oppa? Why are you ignoring me?"

A laugh sounded from behind Mai, one that she could have recognized from anywhere. Park Han Byul. What the f-ck? Mai thought to herself, unconsciously balling her fists and digging her fingernails into her skin.

"He doesn't want a player like you anymore, Mai," Han Byul said loudly, causing her two sidekicks to burst into fits of giggles, "He has me now."

When Mai looked from Han Byul to Yoon Suk with a pained expression on her face, Yoon Suk immediately stood up straight and looked alert. And though Yoon Suk had stayed silent before, he certainly wasn't now.

"Who the f-ck are you?" he spat out rudely, allowing Mai to breathe a sigh of relief, "I don't even know you. What kind of b-tch claims that she's mine when I don't even know her? I belong to Kuraki Mai and Kuraki Mai only. That's not going to change."

Her smile faltering along with her confidence, Han Byul and her friends dejectedly walked away, shoulders hunched forward in rejection.

They looked so pathetic that if the tension in the atmosphere hadn't been so tight, Mai would have laughed. Yet what irked her was the fact that she had never before heard Yoon Suk string two sentences together – both consisting of intense swear words. Something was clearly up but at least the idea of Yoon Suk wanting to break up with her was out of the question.

Going against Mai's beliefs, even after their encounter with Han Byul, Yoon Suk still insisted on keeping up his lets-ignore-Mai act.

"Are you mad at me?" Mai asked, trying to prod him for information in any way possible.

Yoon Suk only shook his head in response.

Frowning, Mai tried again, "Is it something that I did?"

Like the last time, he merely moved his head back and forth, signaling a negative, which only confused Mai further.

They must have looked like fools, the two of them, just standing there in front of the gates to Han Sung High for Girls, with Mai peering in frustrated up at Yoon Suk while he just stood there, shaking his head and refusing to speak.

Heaving a sigh, one corner of Mai's mouth dropped into a half pout, half frown and asked hopefully, "Can you tell me what's going on?"

For the third time, Yoon Suk shook his head, his bangs falling in his eyes.

Rolling her eyes, Mai crossed her arms, beginning to grow annoyed by her boyfriend's strange behavior and his refusal to not inform her of the reason, "Why not?"

And at last, Yoon Suk's lips parted and out tumbled one single word, "Because…"

Not saying a word, Mai's eyes widened as she listened on, allowing Yoon Suk all the time in the world to explain.

"… Because you'll think I'm stupid," Yoon Suk finally said, turning his head to face her, looking Mai straight in the eyes with some sort of weakening look glittering in his eyes.

Unable to help it, Mai found her arms wrapping themselves back around Yoon Suk's waist, embracing him in a hug simply because he looked so adorable when he said that.

Yet unlike the last time, Yoon Suk returned it, grateful that his girlfriend actually took the time to put up with his childish acts.

"That could never happen," Mai informed him, pulling back but still keeping her hands on his shoulders, "I would never think you're stupid. So tell me why you're acting this way."

Looking away from Mai's eyes and down to their feet that were touching each other, Yoon Suk's cheeks tinged pink. For a few moments, he just stared downwards, becoming startingly interested in their feet instead. Yoon Suk smiled serenely yet remembered that Mai was still gazing at the top of his head intently, waiting patiently for a reply. So reluctantly, he muttered, "Jealousy."

It was amazing what an effect that one word could have. Comprehension dawning on Mai, her mouth spread into a wide smile, which soon transformed itself to chuckles, and next thing she knew, it was laughter. Mai was laughing outright in her boyfriend's face, causing the pink n his cheeks to deepen to crimson.

"I told you it's stupid," he mumbled in embarrassment, his head still hanging low, "I knew you would laugh. Stop laughing; it's not funny. Sh-t, it's embarrassing."

But this only resulted in Mai laughing harder. Using her forefinger, Mai lifted Yoon Suk's chin along with his face, forcing him to look her straight in the eyes no matter how hard he tried not to. "Look at me," she commanded.

And he did.

She laughed, only causing him to look away once again. Reaching up to affectionately ruffle his hair, Mai's laughter finally ceased but the smile still remained on her face, which instead of angering Yoon Suk, only caused his heart to race.

She leaned up and quickly pecked him on the lips.

"You're so cute," she commented, "You have nothing to be jealous about. My pen pal said that if you got jealous then you could come along with me to meet him."

"It's fine," Yoon Suk replied, embarrassed, "I trust you. It'd be awkward if I tagged along. I don't even know the guy."

Mai raised her eyebrows at Yoon Suk's words. When he looked at her with a questioning look on his face, she explained, "That's weird; my pen pal said exactly the same thing."

Yoon Suk looked genuinely surprised, "That is weird," he agreed.

Shrugging her shoulders and shaking off the thought, Mai changed the subject while linking arms with her boyfriend, "So," she started as they walked away from her school, "Where to?"

"I'm sorry," Yoon Suk apologized, "Didn't you and Ha Neul have plans together before I came?"

Her memory coming back, Mai nodded her head up and down, but noticing Yoon Suk's apologetic frown, quickly jumped to reassure him, "It's okay! We can always go watch the movie tomorrow! She's fine with it. So what do you want to do now?"

"I'm hungry," he announced, then turned his head to smile at Mai, "Let's eat."

And gladly, Mai nodded in agreement, a bright smile spread upon her face as she walked side by side with the guy that she loved.