Love for Love's Sake - Chapter 24
“These came out recently, so their functionality is apparent. Hey, which color does big brother think is better?”
“I don’t know what color Cha Yeowoon likes.”
From the novel, all I remembered were Cha Yeowoon’s cheesy and sweet comments saying he liked whatever the heroine liked.
“If big brother doesn’t know, just choose the one that you think will look good on him.”
Was that okay? I pondered, but I chose blue. Because it was my favorite color. I thought any color would suit Cha Yeowoon.
“Oh, I think blue would suit him.”
“To be honest, I think any color would look good on him.”
“That’s a valid point. He has a beautiful face.”
Was I right to feel pleased that I shared the same opinion as one of Cha Yeowoon’s fans? I made up my mind and pulled out cash to pay. Ahn Sia beside me watched as the shoes were wrapped.
“Big brother and Cha Yeowoon. Did you two know each other from before?”
“Not really. Why?”
“It seems unusual for someone to go this far.”
“Anyway, he’ll probably like it when he receives it.”
Ahn Sia smiled brightly.
I hoped so.
Despite returning home with the shoes I had carefully chosen, I still had deep concerns. Was this going overboard?
Receiving expensive track and field shoes from a senior they had just met at the beginning of the semester. It was strange. Unless I had borrowed money from their late grandmother or something.
[ Mission: Make Cha Yeowoon happy. ]
[ Penalty: Death ]
But of course, I had my reason.
Worry boiled like a swarm of ants on my forehead.
What was done was done. Thinking about it would only give me a headache.
[Tae Myeongha] : Yeowoon it’s urgent
[Tae Myeongha] : I have to tell you something
[Tae Myeongha] : It’s urgent..really
[Tae Myeongha] : See you at school
I sent these texts early before going to bed. Whether Cha Yeowoon replied or not, it was already out of my hands. Of course, waking up, checking and seeing that I had been ignored, I wanted to flick his forehead.
After working night shifts for several days and saving up diligently, I had split the money in half, giving half to my grandmother and using the other half to buy the shoes. I had even asked one of my friends for help.
I thought this much effort should show my sincerity?
Today was the day to finally hand over the carefully chosen track and field shoes.
As I left the classroom and headed for the 2nd year student’s hallway, I clenched my fists as if I was going to a match. I firmly held the shoebox against my side. No matter how much Cha Yeowoon tried to avoid me today, I was determined not to let him escape.
[ 3m to Love Supremacy Zone. ]
In fact, it was simple to find him with my near-fraudulent ability. I had been letting him off the hook the past few days because he had been avoiding me so desperately.
Cha Yeowoon, who was climbing up the stairs, stopped with his hand on the railing.
“You don’t even answer?”
His hand on the railing turned pale. He released the railing he had been holding tightly and turned around abruptly.
“Hey, where are you going? Won’t you stop?”
Cha Yeowoon ran back the way he came in a great hurry.
It felt like a reenactment of the hallway chase from sometime ago.
The problem was that Cha Yeowoon was a national athlete and I was just a high school student. But that was only when running on bare ground.
I let him rush down the stairs and out the door. I looked in the direction where he was going and instead went up the stairs again.
“Hey! Cha Yeowoon!”
I opened one of the windows and shouted. Cha Yeowoon, who had just left the building, raised his head toward me and opened his mouth.
If I wanted to catch up to a fast child that was like a baby cheetah, I couldn’t do it using conventional methods. This was the only way.
I put one foot on the window frame and jumped out of the window.
“Are you crazy?!”
Cha Yeowoon shouted.
“I won’t die just from jumping down the second floor.”
My legs strained. I gently turned my ankle to see if it was okay. It was throbbing slightly. But I didn’t think the bones were damaged.
“Why didn’t you stop when I told you to?”
“I didn’t think you would go this far.”
“Know it from now on. I’m a man who goes this far.”
I got up, brushing my knees. First, it was good to have caught Cha Yeowoon, and now it was time to complete the objective.
“Oh, the box crumpled when I ran. These are shoes. I heard you have a game next week. I heard new shoes shouldn’t be worn right away for competitions, but anyway.”
Cha Yeowoon asked as he touched the crumpled box.
“Yeah. There’s a receipt inside, so if it doesn’t fit or you don’t like it, you can go and change it. I bought it near the school.”
What did he mean? He knew I had bought it around here?
“Why are you giving it to me?”
While I was lost in thought, Cha Yeowoon had been looking at me. I flinched for a moment because the intense gaze was strong. It was as if this moment wasn’t just about handing over a gift, but something more.
“Oh? Because I thought you needed it?”
It was true. I had bought them for him, who didn’t buy new track and field shoes for himself despite the fact that his performance had been declining and his shoes were worn out. I wanted to help someone beside me in the same way someone would care for someone who had become malnourished from neglecting to eat.
[ Calculating Cha Yeowoon’s favorability. ]
My words overlapped with a message window that had appeared.
It split between Cha Yeowoon and me like glass. Beyond the blue window, he was looking at me with wrinkled brows.
I heard an eerie sound effect that I had never heard before.
[ Favorability: -10 ]
Something was wrong.
Why? That was the first thought that crossed my mind. Was he displeased? Did it seem like I was pitying him?
Did I do something wrong?
Leaving me stunned, Cha Yeowoon turned to leave.
The message window vanished, and I could clearly see his receding figure. His brown hair permeating with sweat was clinging to him.
“Yeowoon, wait a moment.”
Before I could properly grab Cha Yeowoon’s shoulder, he twisted his body. He was trying to shake me off as I struggled to hold onto him.
“What’s the matter?”
I was really nervous because I couldn’t understand. Did I just make a mistake?
Did I hurt him?
Cha Yeowoon muttered. The one word that had come out stiffly, as if he had wanted to shout, lost its strength.
[ Calculating Cha Yeowoon’s favorability. ]
Cha Yeowoon’s throat seemed to tighten. It was so tense that even if he was to start swearing, it wouldn’t have seemed strange. The atmosphere was like that.
His expression was so grim that I thought I might have made a very big mistake.
“Senior don’t know anything.”
It was true. I didn’t know why Cha Yeowoon was saying such things to me.
[ Favorability: -50 ]
The strength left my grip. With the clear rejection displayed in numbers, I couldn’t hold onto Cha Yeowoon any longer.
He walked away.
[ Calculating Cha Yeowoon’s favorability. ]
Left alone, messages appeared one after another as if to taunt me. I waited for the next message like a person waiting for their execution.
A disturbing sound scratched at my ears.
[ Favorability: -99 ]
The negative number felt like a dagger piercing my chest.
* * *
[ Favorability: -99 ]
Cha Yeowoon was in pain.
It felt different from when he was taken to the hospital. His chest was sore, and the stuffy feeling of congestion didn’t go away.
He felt sick. Leaning against the window at the end of the hallway, he soothed his chest, which felt like it was being weighed down by something heavy.
Despite not having done anything, he felt suffocated and wanted to get some fresh air. Wind entered through the open window.
No matter how much he tried to inhale the lukewarm air, the burning sensation in his chest didn’t ease.
It was because of this…
He glanced at the cause of the pain.
A shoebox placed on the windowsill firmly shimmered in the sunlight. The box lid bore the logo of a rather expensive brand.
Why was this happening? He seemed to be having a mental battle with the shoebox.
Tae Myeongha and a strange girl he had seen yesterday came to mind. The girl was attractive. Without fully comprehending his own actions, he had concealed himself and fled, just in case he happened to encounter Tae Myeongha.
Did Tae Myeongha buy these while getting shoes for his girlfriend? It wasn’t an affordable item that could be bought and given away casually. Moreover, it was track and field shoes. For short-distance running. For him.
This made him feel like he was going crazy.
Why was Tae Myeongha like this?
Why did he continue to reach out to him even though he was trying to avoid him? Why did he give him something like this? Why did he concern himself with him? Why did he look for him?
Every time they were together, Tae Myeongha didn’t even know how he felt.
His lungs felt hot as if he had swallowed burning coal, and his ribs seemed to be roasting. Under the intact skin, his internal organs seemed to be burning.
Cha Yeowoon’s shoulder was nudged.
He turned around with a blank expression.
Cheon Sangwon greeted Cha Yeowoon in a friendly manner. Behind him was Tak Jungyeong watching intently.
“What are you doing alone? New shoes?”
At Cha Yeowoon’s cold warning, Cheon Sangwon twisted his lips. There was a sharp aggression in his crooked, smiling eyes.
“Yeowoon, who the hell are you to act high and mighty in front of me? You think I’m nice to you because I like you?”
“And who are you? Why are you bothering me?”
“Ha, Cha Yeowoon. Let me and you fight…”
“Did senior Myeongha give you that?”
Tak Jungyeong, not noticing the atmosphere, interrupted.
Cha Yeowoon turned his body when Tae Myeongha’s name was mentioned. He walked straight to Tak Jungyeong and stood close.
“How did you know?”
Startled, Tak Jungyeong stammered and stepped back.
“He asked me what he should get for you…”
Cha Yeowoon narrowed his eyebrows.
“He asked me how you were doing these days and if he could do something for you.”
As Tak Jungyeong’s words fell, laughter erupted next to Cha Yeowoon.
“So the reason Tae Myeongha has been working part-time on the set during nights was to buy you this?”
Cheon Sangwon exclaimed with exasperation.
Cha Yeowoon quietly reflected on what he had just heard. His head ached.
“Really. Cha Yeowoon. Are you two siblings? Same father but different mother, something like that?”
Cha Yeowoon glared at Cheon Sangwon. His eyes flashed with anger as sparks flew.
He recalled the time Tae Myeongha talked about his living mother, expressing his desire to visit her.
Cha Yeowoon uttered one word at a time through clenched teeth.
“Now you’re finally dealing with me. Let’s see how you handle it.”
“Want to fight?”
Cheon Sangwon put his shoulder to Cha Yeowoon’s as if pushing him. His words pierced Cha Yeowoon’s ears.
“After all, your records are falling and you will be embarrassed in the upcoming competition. Hit me and use that as an excuse to get suspended.”
“It would be nice to get some attention just for running.”
Cheon Sangwon smirked and whispered to Cha Yeowoon.
“I should do track and field too. Get free shoes even when I stumble.”
Cha Yeowoon pushed Cheon Sangwon against the wall. It made a noise as it collided with the solid wall.