Love for Love's Sake - Chapter 16
The line was cut off despite my urgency. When I tried calling back, all I heard was the busy signal.
I hope nothing really happened. As soon as I anxiously entered the elevator, someone pressed the button for the 1st floor before I could.
“What are you doing?”
Of all the people to share the elevator with. Cheon Sangwon grinned as he took his finger off the button.
“I’m going there too.”
“To Cha Yeowoon’s home.”
Was he crazy?
“You’re not close to Yeowoon.”
“No? We’re close.”
His shameless answer didn’t even provoke a laugh from me. At least make it sound believable, you brat.
“Don’t follow me.”
As soon as the elevator doors opened, a familiar window appeared in front of me.
[ Sub-Mission: Find Cha Yeowoon a friend. ]
What kind of nonsense was this?
Why was this showing up now? And in front of the least suitable guy.
I frowned at the transparent window, but it didn’t disappear and continued to stare back at me.
It felt forced.
An unpleasant speculation rears its ugly head. I quietly considered whether this message window could have some personality or emotions.
How else could it have appeared at just the right time, just like prior?
Cheon Sangwon, who must have thought I was annoyed by my empty gaze at the message window, spoke in a gentler tone.
“How are we going to Cha Yeowoon’s place?”
“By bus, you brat.”
“I’ll give you a ride.”
“Do you have a car?”
Of course. His twisted smile made him seem even more like a child, to the point where I found it somewhat endearing. After all, it would be quite funny to take an 18-year-old so seriously.
“Alright, rascal. Are you wearing your helmet properly when you ride? It’s dangerous, so you need to be careful.”
“Is Yeowoon sick or something? Is it urgent?”
As the elevator doors closed, the message window also disappeared.
But even after arriving on the first floor, Cheon Sangwon continued to follow me.
“It’ll be much faster if you ride with me.”
Although I had tried to ignore him, his words caught my attention.
The refrigerator was empty, the electricity was shut off, and Cha Yeowoon who was pale and said he wanted to quit.
He didn’t answer when I asked if he was sick, but the atmosphere was unusual.
The fact that the guy who had never been friendly suddenly called me was evidence enough. Something was definitely going on.
“Is this yours?”
Cheon Sangwon’s bike, proudly parked on the ground, looked exactly like its owner.
It was flashy and exuded presence.
“Isn’t it awesome?”
“Hey. This is expensive. How can a high schooler afford a bike that costs over $7,500?”
“What does me being in high school have to do with it? If you have the money, you can ride it.”
I had nothing to say. This guy was annoying.
Could it be that Cha Yeowoon and this guy both lack a bit of manners, and that was why the message had appeared earlier? Like a dating app, it was matching similar personalities together.
As I pondered this ridiculous thought, Cheon Sangwon confidently sat on his bike. I wanted to make fun of him for flaunting, but why did it suit him? It seemed like everything came down to appearances in the end.
“Brother wear it.”
“Are you crazy? Hurry up and wear it.”
At my urging, Cheon Sangwon took out his helmet from his side bag. He should have done this sooner. He stared at me and adjusted his helmet skillfully.
“Brother, have you ridden a motorcycle?”
“Yeah. But do you even know how to ride this properly?”
“Of course. I’ve been riding since middle school.”
The minimum age to take the motorcycle license test was 16, so how had he been riding since middle?
“Do you have a license?”
“I’m getting it this year.”
“Are you out of your mind? Hey! Get off.”
I grabbed his shoulders and pulled him off. Surprisingly, he didn’t resist much.
“Give me the key.”
“This is mine. Brother is going to ride it?”
“I have a license.”
If he had refused, I would have gone straight to the bus stop. He suddenly started laughing.
“Brother is really interesting.”
Interesting? I couldn’t watch him drive without a license. He, who was almost in tears from laughing, handed me the bike key.
“Can I ride behind brother?”
“Then are you going to ride in front?”
Even that comment made him laugh. At an age where teenagers were supposed to be carefree, he sure liked to joke around.
Cheon Sangwon didn’t look the part, yet this guy had a hearty laugh. Ironically, Cha Yeowoon, who was genuinely good-looking, rarely smiles and mostly just frowns, while Cheon Sangwon managed to smile despite his sharp features.
It would be nice if their personalities could rub off on each other a bit.
“Wear it properly.”
I doubted whether he usually wore his helmet properly. It was a mess, so I adjusted it tightly. As I tightened the chin strap, he let out a groan.
“Stop making a fuss.”
“I’m not exaggerating. Why are you so strong?”
“Shut up and get on.”
At my stern command, he laughed again and sat behind me. This guy seemed to laugh at whatever I did.
[ 2.3km to Love Supremacy Zone. ]
Once I started the bike, the map appeared as if it had been waiting. It was like a GPS.
As if pushing me to hurry up and go there.
Toward Cha Yeowoon.
Expensive bikes felt different to ride. Cheon Sangwon urged me to go faster from behind, but I ignored him and stuck to the speed limit.
From my teens to early twenties, I had relied on this to make a living. After I had gained some stability in life, I would occasionally ride with a motorcycle club, so I was quite comfortable riding even in a dense city.
“You’re a really good rider.”
“But why were you crawling around like this? This is a sports bike. If you’re not going to accelerate, why ride it? Are you scared?”
“Yeah. I was scared we might die together. Nice ride.”
After returning the bike key, Cheon Sangwon continued to trail behind me and talk.
“Are you really going to follow me all the way?”
“I lent you the bike, and now you’re telling me to leave? You’re too much.”
Like he said, since we had come all the way on his bike, I decided to let him tag along.
It suddenly felt stifling to have him follow me into Cha Yeowoon’s home. I felt awkward as the sound of his footsteps followed me up the stairs.
“He lives in a place like this.”
As we entered the rooftop, I heard Cheon Sangwon muttering to himself. It was quite unfortunate that a guy who seemed to be living well would make such a comment.
Out of courtesy before storming in, I decided to call Cha Yeowoon. Although the signal was ringing, he didn’t answer.
I tried knocking on the door first, but there was no response. Now, a sense of foreboding overshadowed my worry.
“Cha Yeowoon, are you inside? Open the door.”
“Is the door locked?”
Turning the doorknob, I only heard the rusty click of the lock.
Ignoring Cheon Sangwon, who was lingering behind me, I carefully turned the doorknob again. Although it was locked, it was an old door.
Cha Yeowoon was inside. He was inside and could be in danger.
I kicked the door handle, resulting in a loud commotion.
Although it was loud enough to cause a noise complaint, I didn’t have the time to dwell on it.
The door handle fell with a clatter.
“Wow. Fuck. Brother is really crazy.”
Cheon Sangwon burst into laughter behind me. I rushed to open the door.
“Hey! Cha Yeowoon!”
After I took off my sneakers in a hurry and entered, I could see the narrow living room at a glance.
Cha Yeowoon had collapsed on the floor.
I rushed over and picked him up. He was extremely hot, and his whole body felt like it was boiling.
My throat tightened, and my head grew dizzy. Cha Yeowoon’s face, pressed against my chest as I held him, was drenched in sweat. His tightly closed eyelids were twitching, and his breathing sounded precarious.
“Hey, call 119.”
“Here? What’s the address?”
The address could be easily found if we searched through the mails or used my phone to find the location, but holding the hot Cha Yeowoon made me anxious.
I couldn’t just sit still.
“Never mind. I’ll take him to the hospital.”
“Are you serious?”
“Put him on my back.”
The reluctant Cheon Sangwon hoisted Cha Yeowoon onto my back.
I ran down the stairs, holding Cha Yeowoon securely as he kept slipping due to his unconscious state.
Soon, I was sweating and out of breath, but I kept running. I could feel Cha Yeowoon’s heartbeat against my back.
The pounding rhythm had escalated to a point where it was hard to tell if it was mine or his. The weight hanging from my back was burdensome. However, I continued to run.
* * *
Malnutrition. Dehydration. Stress-induced stomach cramps.
The medical staff’s tone while updating me on Cha Yeowoon’s condition was dry, yet my stomach churned as I listened. I continued to sigh deeply.
An athlete suffering from malnutrition and dehydration.
Sitting beside Cha Yeowoon, who was hooked up to an IV in a hospital bed, my heart ached.
It wouldn’t have come to this if I had noticed his condition more accurately last time.
Imagining the pain he must have endured alone while calling for help just before collapsing weighed heavily on my heart.
I knew well what it felt like to be in excruciating pain, alone, unable to move and so ill you couldn’t even think. Waiting for the agony to pass while huddled on a cold floor because there was no one to rely on for help—how utterly devastating it was.
“Are you awake?”
Cha Yeowoon soon opened his eyes and looked at me. He remained silent, but he must have understood the moment he regained consciousness. That, I had been watching over him the entire time.
“Is this a hospital?”
Cha Yeowoon grimaced openly. He had always had a dislike for hospitals, especially after his grandmother fell ill. Even as an adult, he detested hospitals.
Cha Yeowoon exhaled audibly. He showed an annoyed expression as he glanced at the IV string on his hand.
“They said it’s malnutrition.”
Cha Yeowoon didn’t reply; he just clenched his lips and turned his head. He seemed upset.
But if he was upset right now, it was probably directed more at himself than at me. At himself for calling me and for subsequently collapsing and waking up in the hospital.
I didn’t need to ask.
Because I had been there too.
“Stay at my place for the time being.”