Love for Love's Sake - Chapter 29
“Tae Myeongha! You punk. Why didn’t you come to school yesterday?”
It was my homeroom teacher. I had heard teachers could get into big trouble these days if they hit the students, so why was I being physically disciplined like when I was back in school? If I wasn’t at fault, I might have felt like I was being indicted.
“I was sick.”
Instead of complaining to my homeroom teacher, I responded politely. Of course, he didn’t show me the same courtesy.
“Look at yourself, punk. Is that the face of someone who was sick?”
“I was really sick yesterday.”
“Ahn Gyeonghun! Don’t hang out with this child. You’ll end up just like him.”
The homeroom teacher, after receiving Ahn Gyeonghun’s awkward smile, left the classroom as quickly as he came. Not just me, but a few other students who were fooling around in the classroom had also received warnings for being late and not in uniform.
It was strange. The homeroom teacher saying this to me was one thing, but there was a noticeable cautiousness in his attitude toward Ahn Gyeonghun.
Was it because it was an unexpected behavior? Was it because he was doing well in his studies? Curiosities came to mind for a moment and then quickly became dull. Regardless, I didn’t want to bother Ahn Gyeonghun.
Anyway, was this what people meant when they would say it wasn’t their day? I couldn’t bring up the topic of studying for the exam with Cha Yeowoon even by lunchtime.
Another interruptor appeared after my homeroom teacher.
“I heard you’re setting up Ahn Sia and Cha Yeowoon?”
First, Cheon Sangwon, the interrupter among the interrupters. My seat in the class had become his nest.
“You heard that? Why on earth is Sia friends with a delinquent like you?”
“Where do you see me as a delinquent? Brother looks more like one.”
“Look in the mirror. You look like a complete delinquent. It’s ironic coming from a guy who rides a motorcycle.”
“But at least when I’m around, Tak Junho doesn’t bother brother. Aren’t you grateful?”
“Yeah. I just want to be bothered.”
“Only brother lashes out at me.”
Unbeknownst to me who was listening to Cheon Sangwon’s chatter in one ear and exchanging texts with Cha Yeowoon about going home together…The fact that all of this was all just a prelude.
“You weren’t here when I came looking for you yesterday, Tae Myeongha.”
I did say that I would rather be bothered by Tak Junho, but I didn’t mean that literally.
As I looked at Tak Junho, who had appeared before my eyes as if such a sound effect befitted him, I pondered the words of the wise sage. Be careful what you wish for because it might just come true. I should be more careful with what I say from now on.
“I was sick yesterday.”
“Yeah, sick. Why didn’t you come visit me in the hospital?”
I counted the number of delinquents who had walked through the back door of the classroom.
Tak Junho, and about four in the back? As five male students with hardened expressions poured in, the classroom felt more congested.
“I apologize for not visiting you while you were sick. Do you want me to hospitalize you again? I’ll come this time.”
“You don’t have to go that far. I’ve resolved things with Jungyeong last time, so what’s wrong with you, Junho?”
Tak Jungyeong and I recently discussed what to give Cha Yeowoon and the atmosphere between us was good.
“Or is it not because of your brother, but because of the way I fucked you last time?”
“When did I ever get fucked by you?!”
Tak Junho shouted back. Maybe it was that, after all. I didn’t really pick a fight with him, and nothing happened. For some reason, he still held a grudge and had come to see me.
I wondered if I was like that at 19.
What was I like? I kept to myself and didn’t mix with my peers. My reputation wasn’t good, and it wasn’t unusual for me to pick fights with others.
There were many situations much more bloody than this. Not delinquents, but rather guys carrying baseball bats, backed by real gangsters, among other things.
“Junho, you’re cute.”
In my eyes, it was cute watching a guy with a bruised ego lead his groupie. Those who had nothing to lose were often the scariest. It was a common story with low lives that had no future.
Was it because I really lived a softer life than when I was on active duty? Since I was in a novel, did I get some corrections to my personality?
“Fuck! Do I really look like a pushover to you?”
“Well, you do look really pathetic.”
People say you shouldn’t spit on a smiling face, but Tak Junho grabbed me by the collar when I smiled at him.
It seemed he thought he could lift me on the spot. However, he only managed to pull the hem of my clothes awkwardly. It was somewhat clumsy and amusing.
“Junho, a hand clap doesn’t make a sound until they meet, and it takes two to tango. If you want to annoy me, use some creative insults.”
As if the current situation was completely different from the picture Tak Junho had drawn in his head, he only raised his fist while his lips were trembling. The question of whether to strike or not was plastered on his face. With so much overthinking, it seemed he didn’t know what to do.
“D-Don’t do it.”
A dissuasion that I had never expected came before the fist.
Ahn Gyeonghun walked up to us with a face more flushed than Tak Junho.
Apart from me and Tak Junho, he was the first student to speak up in the classroom.
Everyone was just watching, yet he still treated me like a friend. His gesture had tugged at my heart. Was this what it felt like to be protected by a hamster or rabbit?
Perhaps Tak Junho had felt the same way.
His previously uncertain and angry expression became even more contorted.
“Cheon Sangwon has been so damn lazy lately that even you have become bolder, Gyeonghun. You fucking homo.”
Homo. The last second profanity carried more weight than a mere insult, lingering like chewed gum. Ahn Gyeonghun’s complexion turned pale.
“You should be left in a mental hospital, why crawl back into a school and be annoying.”
“Hey, who’s the one that has become bolder here? Shut your mouth if you’re going to talk nonsense.”
I had overlooked it because it had been cute until now.
When I forcefully pushed Tak Junho’s wrist, releasing his grip on my collar, he fell back.
As he stumbled, I approached and put my head so close that our foreheads touched. In a fight, momentum was half the battle.
“Learn some manners before you start talking nonsense about other people’s friends. Junho, weak guys like to talk a lot.”
“Wh-What the hell? Tae Myeongha, are you a homo too? That’s ridiculous!”
“So what if I am?”
I followed Tak Junho, who was slowly moving backwards. We were practically stuck together as we advanced toward the classroom wall.
Although he was acting like trash, how could I beat up a 19-year-old? No matter how much mental education a teenager needed, would hitting him out of love be of any use?
Perhaps with my lips.
“Oh my god, crazy…”
Simultaneous gasps erupted in the classroom. While I was kissing Tak Junho, I checked his eyeballs, which had grown so big as if they were about to pop out. Seeing my reflection in his pupils, it wasn’t as romantic as I thought it would be.
An unpleasant sound echoed as our lips parted.
A dreadful silence followed.
Tak Junho pointed at me as I wiped my lips. It was quite funny watching him pout.
“Did you like it?”
“Ah, a-agh! Homo!”
A shout erupted. Tak Junho threw his fist into the air.
If I had to say, it was more like floundering than punching. His movements were so exaggerated that if I just sidestepped, his fists would miss entirely. This was why you had to be cautious of excessive excitement in fights.
“We kissed, so why am I the only gay one? You’re gay, too.”
“You did it!”
“How can I kiss alone? Anyway, you accounted for half the lips. Homo this homo that. Watch your language.”
“Shut up! Homo!”
“If you say homo one more time, I’ll kiss you.”
As a warning, I smacked my lips. Tak Junho’s eyes widened in surprise.
It was funny. Now, he was completely flailing his arms while throwing punches. The desk corners that collided with his knee made clatter noises as it was pushed away.
Should I let him land one punch? As I slipped away, I stopped to check the incoming fist. It was a punch that wasn’t much harder to land than it was to avoid.
There was a thud and my head turned. Hot pain rose from my right jaw to the cheekbones. Although the sound of the blow was loud, the pain was bearable.
Tak Junho’s mouth opened as if he was surprised his fist had connected. It seemed even he doubted it.
Having been hit, I at the very least had a valid excuse. At this point, even if the both of us ran to the police station, it would result in a draw.
Before Tak Junho came to his senses, I snatched his collar and pushed him against the classroom wall.
As his back hit the wall, he groaned as if he was in pain. He didn’t have any pain tolerance at all. When I brought my face closer to him as I did earlier, the muffled groans ceased.
“Scared I might kiss you?”
Tak Junho pursed his lips and mumbled something. He was probably cursing me. But he didn’t shout; he wasn’t as gutsy as someone like Ahn Gyeonghun.
I applied more pressure to my arms, digging into his ribs and causing him to wince in pain. Even the whimpers became faint, as his throat tightened from not being able to breathe properly.
“Junho, you’re just not good at fighting.”
Sorry, but that was my honest opinion. Rather than resorting to swinging his fists and being humiliated, especially considering his sheltered upbringing, why not strive to lead a virtuous life?
“So don’t do what you can’t do and behave yourself. Like a student. Quietly. Peacefully. Don’t you want to go to college? No?”
I hadn’t intended to go this far, but maybe I should land one punch too. Again, it wasn’t like I was mad at this child.
Ahn Gyeonghun had sided with me. That was why I felt obligated to do this much for him.
Was it obvious that I was thinking about hitting him? Tak Junho opened his eyes wide and then struggled to break free.
It was when I shoved him against the wall once again…
“What, you two!”
The homeroom teacher burst in. It seemed someone had abandoned the spectacle of our fight and decided to call him.
His piercing gaze fell directly on us. Although I was receiving his intense gaze, I wasn’t able to return it.
This was because I was busy making eye contact with Cheon Sangwon, who had stuck out his head through the gap in the half-open door and was waving at me. Was it him? When I asked with my eyes, he flashed me a wicked smile.
He had imitated what Cha Yeowoon had done on the rooftop. A bastard was a bastard.
My hand wavered like a fishing line that had caught a fish. Tak Junho was still squirming.
While still holding onto Tak Junho’s collar, I made eye contact with the homeroom teacher. As soon as I let go, Tak Junho slumped down. My homeroom teacher was shooting lasers at me that were incomparable to when he had questioned me about my absence this morning.
“Tae Myeongha. You punk, come with me!”
I was doomed.
* * *
[Cha Yeowoon] : Senior, where are you?
[Cha Yeowoon] : Senior
[Cha Yeowoon] : Where are you