Love for Love's Sake - Chapter 33
“Sangwon, don’t like brother too much and just go to your class. You show too much interest in me, spreading rumors and whatever. No matter how you act, I have no interest in you.”
“That’s strange. If brother is gay, you can’t help but fall in love with me.”
Cheon Sangwon grabbed the desk and leaned his head towards me. What was this guy saying now?
I thought about denying it, but I held back. I didn’t want it to sound like I was disgusted with the children in our class, and I felt like denying it was pointless.
Anyway, there were already plenty of rumors about me. Like how I had fought seven to one in middle school, or how I was a mad dog that would beat you to death if you even glanced at me, or how I had run away from home and almost ended up in a juvenile detention center.
I had never been in a relationship with another man even by the age of 29. Nonetheless, I became more open minded after hearing from a junior in the military who expressed his interest in men. I thought such relationships could naturally happen.
“I have no disadvantages over Cha Yeowoon. Looks, qualifications, physique.”
“He has a shit personality too.”
“Yeowoon is a bit rude, but you’re just trash. Go away. Class is starting.”
“I will. I’m going to join the track and field team and step on Cha Yeowoon.”
It was a one-sided declaration. My head briefly didn’t process what he was saying. Step on what?
“Come watch practice after class today.”
Cheon Sangwon cheerfully said and left the classroom.
Outside, a dusty wind blew and flipped the curtains. A coughing fit ensued.
Holding my neck, I stared at the classroom door for a moment.
Why was he always like this? That crazy debuff.
* * *
New Leaf High School’s track and field team had its own tradition and prestige. Maybe.
It was evident from the fact that Cha Yeowoon, a promising athlete since middle school, was able to enroll based on his athletic performance. A plaque with the achievements from the track and field team was on display in the school lobby.
So, I had hoped they wouldn’t just let any mediocre 2nd year student apply for admission.
And even if they did accept their application, they would probably make them watch or something. Similar to when a newcomer of a soccer team was assigned to collecting soccer balls.
But Cheon Sangwon was standing there next to Cha Yeowoon.
“What’s going on?”
I sat down in the stands bewildered, staring at the incomprehensible scene.
Cha Yeowoon was a national track and field prospect. He was the pride of New Leaf’s track and field team.
But now, he seemed to be preparing for a race against a newcomer who had just joined the track and field team?
“I’m going to step on Cha Yeowoon.”
Cheon Sangwon’s declaration had been irritatingly ringing in my head, prompting me to visit the schoolyard after school. It was already like this when I arrived.
It was a situation where Cha Yeowoon and Cheon Sangwon were about to have a one-on-one match.
“Does that even make sense?”
Cheon Sangwon suddenly waved his arm at me as if he heard me muttering.
“Oh! Brother Myeongha! You came to see me!”
Stop pretending to know me. Everyone was staring.
Despite disrupting practice, no one said anything to Cheon Sangwon, who was acting as if he owned the place. Not even the teacher with the whistle reacted.
“Cha Yeowoon, fighting!”
I responded with a spirited cheer for Cha Yeowoon.
Cha Yeowoon looked up.
His expressionless face completely changed the moment he saw me.
Suddenly, he started smiling. If it was someone else they might have fallen over.
I punched the guy suddenly trying to run over and calmed him down. Read the atmosphere. He was Cha Yeowoon.
Cha Yeowoon and Cheon Sangwon placed their feet on the starting blocks and assumed their positions.
The sound of a whistle was heard.
[ Buff triggered due to positive favorability. ]
Accompanying the whistle was a message.
This was the second time I had seen something like this.
Last time, it had appeared when I was treating Cha Yeowoon with the ointment, so I had wondered if his feet would heal incredibly fast. In the end, nothing much changed.
Now, even I couldn’t help but be amazed.
It felt like there was a dazzling effect that followed characters who had purchased effects in a game.
Of course, I was talking about Cha Yeowoon.
Rainbow-colored ripples spread with each step as if he was stepping through shallow water. A halo of light followed his footsteps.
Cha Yeowoon ran as if he was weightless. He seemed like he could really run on water.
My attention was stolen. It probably wasn’t just me. Other track and field members watching from the sidelines also glanced at Cha Yeowoon. I could feel it.
It was a landslide victory for Cha Yeowoon.
Of course, it was expected, but my heart still pounded. This time, it felt like my heart was punching me.
As Cha Yeowoon turned at the finish line, he looked for me.
“You did well.”
Instead of speaking loudly, I made a trumpet with my hands and smiled brightly. Cha Yeowoon concentrated on me and then smiled brightly.
In that moment, the vivid lights that had appeared while he was running illuminated him. It was a radiance that gave the impression that only he existed.
I couldn’t see anything else.
[ Calculating Cha Yeowoon’s favorability. ]
[ Favorability: 15 ]
* * *
[ Favorability: 15 ]
Cha Yeowoon was in good condition.
His body felt light. It was refreshing to run after a long time. It was the first time he had felt this invigorated since his grandmother was hospitalized.
“You ran well.”
Cheon Sangwon, who entered the locker room, leaned against Cha Yeowoon’s locker. There was a clanging sound as his weight hit the metal.
“As expected of a scholarship student, eh? I’m so embarrassed. Fuck. I lost face.”
Cheon Sangwon said it in a jesting manner, but he was irritated. Cha Yeowoon, instead of getting angry like before, calmly closed his locker and confronted him. He had enough composure for that now.
“Why did you join the track and field team when you don’t even come to school regularly?”
Although it was absurd to suddenly decide to join the team, Cheon Sangwon had been a nuisance since his arrival. Despite Cha Yeowoon having the best record among 2nd year students, he had insisted on competing with him.
If he had truly wanted to fight for the record, he could have just compared their records to determine who was better. However, he had argued that he wanted to race Cha Yeowoon.
The coach allowed it again.
Cheon Sangwon was the son of the school committee chairman. The equipment provided to the track and field team was also from Cheon Sangwon’s mother’s brand, for which Cheon Sangwon also modeled. It was only natural.
“Me? I wanted to become closer with you.”
Cheon Sangwon pulled up his lips in a forced smile that didn’t look sincere.
“Okay. I get it.”
“I’m serious? Since we’re not in the same class, and we can’t hang out after school, I joined the track and field team.”
Since Cha Yeowoon didn’t have a good relationship with the other members of the track and field team, it wouldn’t change if Cheon Sangwon was added. He grabbed his sports bag.
“Hey, is senior Tae Myeongha gay?”
Cheon Sangwon said it as if throwing a hook, and Cha Yeowoon took the bait.
Cha Yeowoon stopped. This time, even Tae Myeongha was involved. But it was still an unpleasant conversation.
Why was it unpleasant?
Was it because of Cheon Sangwon’s attitude? Because of the content suggesting that Tae Myeongha might like men?
Cheon Sangwon, who had been waiting for Cha Yeowoon’s answer, nodded as if he understood.
“You don’t know either.”
That was enough. Cheon Sangwon seemed to be in a good mood for some reason as he patted Cha Yeowoon’s shoulder.
Cha Yeowoon’s mood instantly soured.
He had run well. His form was perfect, and his results were good. It was a very satisfying run after a long time.
However, his mood was immediately crushed by the comment concerning Tae Myeongha.
The moment he spotted Tae Myeongha approaching from the schoolyard, it felt as if gravity had instantly disappeared.
“Oho. The victor.”
Cha Yeowoon’s mood eased when he saw Tae Myeongha waiting by the school gate as promised. He lightly high-fived the outstretched hand before walking beside him.
“Gyeonghun said he couldn’t study today because of housework.”
“So just the two of us?”
Cha Yeowoon easily felt better. It was so simple. To the point it was scary.
Meanwhile, Tae Myeongha calmly took the bus, climbed the stairs to his home, and threw his bag in the room.
He didn’t dislike his senior Ahn Gyeonghun. He seemed like a good person. It was just that his heart was too focused.
“You really worked hard.”
To one person.
Tae Myeongha was busy checking the workbook that Cha Yeowoon had solved and the textbook notes that he had organized. He seemed to have no thoughts other than studying.
“I had promised to improve my ranking.”
“But that doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself of sleep. It’s confusing here so I’ll explain what’s written.”
“What type of person does senior like?”
Cha Yeowoon couldn’t concentrate on studying due to other priorities, prompting him to ask.
“I answered this last time. I’m curious about what kind of person senior like.”
“The cute type?”
Cha Yeowoon pursed his lips. He assessed himself. A height of around 180cm. Tae Myeonghad had said his way of speaking was rude. Arms and legs muscles that had clearly developed due to exercising.
Anywhere he looked, nothing about him seemed cute. The highlighter, while underlining in the textbook, made a screeching sound and slipped.
“…Cute, like small?”
“Cute is cute.”
“What’s cute to senior?”
“You’re cute too.”
The tip of the highlighter crumpled against the paper. The ink spread in a circle. Cha Yeowoon’s fingers holding the pen hurt.
“Not that kind of liking. As a romantic partner.”
“Why are you talking about a romantic partner and not Chemistry? Also, why did you choose Chemistry? And why Japanese as your foreign language? Many children are good at that.”
Tae Myeongha didn’t give a straight answer and wanted to go back to studying. Despite his appearance as someone solely dedicated to studying, there were widespread rumors about his involvement in fights.
“Do you like someone who’s cute as a romantic partner?”
Cha Yeowoon was anxious.
He wanted to know. What Tae Myeongha liked. What he should do.
“I like someone who will be with me for a long time.”
Tae Myeongha paused for a moment and then spoke softly.
“What does that mean?”
It was ambiguous and hard to understand. Tae Myeongha smiled brightly at the puzzled Cha Yeowon.
“Someone who is cute, diligent, kind, and pretty when they smile. Done?”
“That sounds like a vague answer.”
“You would keep asking even if I give a straight answer. Just study.”
“Have senior ever been in a relationship?”
Was Tae Myeongha trying to deflect the question? Cha Yeowoon felt like his head would explode from a single sentence.
“I’ve never liked anyone.”
“Never? Even though you’re already 18? You seem likely.”
“What does that mean?”
“I think you’ll be cautious about giving attention to others but go all in for one person. A hopeless romantic. Be careful. Usually, guys like you end up learning about theft and robbery later than others.”
“You’re talking like a person who saw me in a relationship.”