Love for Love's Sake - Chapter 32
I only said anything because I was worried that Cha Yeowoon might ask me to meet him tomorrow without Ahn Gyeonghun. It wasn’t like I was scolding him, but I didn’t realize he was so obsessed with the kiss.
As I carried the trash bag down the outdoor stairs, a makeshift garbage sorting bin installed between the buildings could be seen.
Paper, Plastic, General. Cha Yeowoon, who was standing next to me as I sorted the trash one by one, suddenly asked.
“Do you like Tak Junho?”
The trash bag slipped from my loose grip and hit the metal trash can.
Cha Yeowoon had an unpredictable side to him. What on earth did he think of my tastes?
“Why would I like him? He’s older than you too, yet you keep calling him by his name.”
“You’re talking like an old man again. I always call senior ‘senior.'”
“What do you mean you always call me senior? You green sprout.”
“Senior, do you kiss people you don’t even like?”
The question was amusing, but his intense expression and tone kept me from laughing. I didn’t think one wrong kiss could lead to such troubles.
“Yesterday was just an accident. Tak Junho or whatever, my priority now is your midterm results.”
Of course. I needed him to move to 10th.
It was unclear whether the mission meant the entire school or just his class, but I hoped it was the entire school. Despite me having worked part-time as an instructor, I didn’t know how much I could help him improve in just two weeks, considering he also had to spend his time training.
“You care about my grades now?”
“I want to tell you that grades don’t matter and that you only need to grow up healthy, but grades are still necessary for college admission. The ultimate goal is a scholarship.”
“You’re saying I should give up being admitted into college on an athletic scholarship?”
Geez. Considering Cha Yeowoon’s recent struggles in his track performance, I thought he would have been sensitive.
However, he didn’t seem particularly upset. He showed more indifference compared to when he was prying into the kiss.
“No. Why would I give up when you haven’t?”
“Then why are you making such a fuss and making me study?”
“I told you. When you want to quit running, call me. I’ll do whatever I can.”
“I haven’t called senior to say I’m quitting.”
“You have to be prepared. You never know when things will change. We need to have safety nets in place so even if things go south, you won’t fall terribly.”
Cha Yeowoon might be stubborn about pursuing track and field until he fell, but he had said he wanted to quit at one point. So this was even more important. I watched as he tilted his head slightly.
“So, did you study hard too, senior?”
I wish I had realized earlier. Even just by the age 18 would have been perfect.
“We’ll study on weekends too?”
In that case, I’ll have to schedule around my studio part-time job ahead of time. For now, it was a day job, but with the promise that I could come out every weekend.
“I’ll also start working part-time this weekend.”
“What kind of job is it?”
I asked hastily, without thinking.
It would be a big problem if it was a physically demanding job and Cha Yeowoon injured himself. He smiled as if he had noticed my thought.
“Senior makes me study, but he’s also worried about my part-time job.”
“Is it obvious?”
“It’s at the church.”
“You go to church?”
I couldn’t imagine Cha Yeowoon quietly praying with his hands folded in church. Wasn’t he an atheist?
“My grandmother used to go there.”
Cha Yeowoon answered calmly.
“If you’re having financial difficulties at home, the church provides a living allowance or scholarships. My part-time job will be to help out at the church. In return I’ll receive support for living expenses.”
Well, in that case, I didn’t need to worry. The church wouldn’t make him work to the point of getting injured.
“Senior, you didn’t know my grandmother.”
Before I could fully relax, Cha Yeowoon ambushed me. I stopped stiffly as soon as we climbed to the rooftop.
“Uh? Huh? What? W-Well…”
What was with the stammering? If I was going to play it off, do it until the end. I even felt like banging my head against something.
“My grandmother used to tell everyone close to her to go to church no matter what.”
I broke out in a cold sweat. The breeze that was blowing wasn’t refreshing at all. Was forfeiting favorability inevitable?
Unlike me, who was standing at attention, Cha Yeowoon was indifferent.
“It’s fine. Anyway, I didn’t believe everything senior said from the beginning when you said you were worried about me because of my grandmother.”
“Is it logical for someone to come take care of a person’s grandson just because of the grandmother they had encountered at the market?”
Cha Yeowoon said nonchalantly as he leaned on the rooftop ledge.
“I was curious if my grandmother had saved your life or helped you with a debt. But it’s funny that you would do all this for me just because of that.”
“I’m just curious why senior is doing this much for me.”
“I know. Senior keeps saying that things could happen without any particular reason.”
Cha Yeowoon continued without taking a breath.
“Still, I can’t help but worry. Why are you doing this?”
“Because you remind me of myself.”
An answer slipped out abruptly. As was often the case, answers that jump out before you could think were often very embarrassingly true.
Cha Yeowoon smiled bitterly.
“We’re not alike, senior.”
“This child, are you trying to hurt my feelings?”
His clean denial made me leak an awkward laughter. It was rude, but it was embarrassing for me to put myself in the shoes of a character from a romance novel.
“Senior shine so brightly. You’re good at everything on your own. You’re not like me.”
Cha Yeowoon made my shame even greater with his next words. I covered my face and laughed.
Shining brightly, unlike me. That was what I thought when I looked at Cha Yeowoon.
In Love Supremacy Zone, Cha Yeowoon despite his unfortunate past grew up well and loved with all his heart. It was sincere and passionate.
I was envious of that.
A heart that could run passionately.
“What? Why are you laughing?”
“Just. Cha Yeowoon, that’s not it. You’re way better than me.”
If he knew what my real 18 or 19 years were like, he wouldn’t be able to say things like shine.
Back then, I was a mess. Even at 29…honestly, it was questionable.
I had done my best to build my life in some way, but there were still many things missing.
Studying hard, working hard, and even graduating successfully and finding a job. Under normal circumstances, I should have felt proud and satisfied with my accomplishments, but unknowingly there was still a sense of emptiness.
What could I say? Just looking at the fact that despite suddenly being dropped into a novel, I couldn’t think of a single person I wanted to see.
“I don’t know what senior is thinking sometimes.”
Cha Yeowoon’s voice cut through my endless and pointless thoughts. A wry smile escaped my lips. If he had known my thoughts, he might have thought I was crazy. Favorability, missions.
“Being able to know what someone is thinking would make you a psychic, not a human.”
“Not like that. I just sometimes feel like you might suddenly disappear…Oh, forget it.”
Cha Yeowoon, who was muttering, stopped talking.
“Since I’m going to study hard, can you grant me one request if my grades improve?”
A welcome statement I had been waiting for.
I immediately spread out all my fingers.
“If you climb to 10th.”
“You sound like you’ve been waiting.”
“10th in the entire school. That should be possible, right?”
This was an achievable goal with a little more luck than usual. It was even more so in the lower ranks.
Cha Yeowoon lowered his head.
While my fingers remained outstretched, he grabbed one of my pinky fingers, gently folded it, and locked eyes with me. His gaze was clear.
It was like when he stood on the synthetic grass of the track field. I felt my heart racing contrary to the situation.
“I’m 19th right now, so 10th in my class.”
“…Are you suddenly going to become 9th in your class?”
“Yes. I can do it.”
Ah, he was an athlete. A competitive spirit was boiling in his eyes.
“In return, promise me that you will do any favor I ask.”
The attitude for me to promise him again was pressing.
What the hell was he going to ask for? But I didn’t want to appear weak to the guy who had just said he would improve to 9th in the class in just two weeks.
“Okay. I promise.”
I clenched my fist and opened only the pinky finger that Cha Yeowoon had folded.
He didn’t laugh at me and called me childish for sticking out my pinky finger. He extended his own pinky finger in response.
The moment our fingers intertwined, the night sky stretching out behind Cha Yeowoon caught my eyes. There were an unusually large number of stars in the sky tonight.
* * *
In short, Cha Yeowoon kept his end of the promise.
I became quite embarrassed because I had promised to grant any request.
It was too much.
At any rate, this was after the midterm.
* * *
Ahead of the midterm, Ahn Gyeonghun and Cha Yeowoon studied hard. Tak Junho avoided a fight whenever he saw me. I worked part-time on the weekends. In the evening, I did my chores and went out to eat with my grandmother using the money I had earned.
Looking at it this way, I was leading an exemplary life.
“You’re not watching the track and field practices these days?”
“You haven’t been coming to my class, and now you’re here again?”
My favorability with Cha Yeowoon had increased and he seemed to be living faithfully. Everyone was having a good time, so when would this debuff wear off?
It was early May. A warm gentle breeze blew through the wide-open window. I was lying face down, enjoying the benefits of this spot by the window.
Everything seemed to be going well. I naturally felt generous enough to be lenient to the one annoying child. People said it was best to ignore a brat, but if you bite them and sleep, wouldn’t they go away too?
“I’m going to join the track and field team.”
I jolted upright at the sudden noise. Cheon Sangwon had a triumphant smile as if he was satisfied with my reaction.
“Why would you do that?”
“Brother told me to run.”
I remembered him chattering so much next to me that I had told him to shut up if he wasn’t going to run. Was it that?
“I want to get attention from brother, so I’m going to try track and field.”
“What are you talking about, haa…Let’s not talk.”
“Did you know that a lot of people talk about brother being gay behind your back?”
“Oh. Where did you hear that? Because of Tak Junho?”
“That’s what brother did while trying to protect Gyeonghun.”
“What do you mean protect? Gyeonghun got caught up in the fight between me and Tak Junho.”
“If brother really is gay, it would make sense.”
“You and Cha Yeowoon.”
“Noisy. Don’t try to interpret all phenomena as love.”
“Wow, you have a way with words. All phenomena are love.”