Vol. 1 Chapter 2
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Translated by Springlila
Edited by Springlila
Rattle, rattle. Each ice cube tangled in the straw collided in the glass, creating a distinct sound. I looked at the green tea latte, which was not even half empty, and then shifted my gaze to the front. Lim Dae-han used a straw to stir the ice in the cup in front of him. There was very little orange juice left in the glass.
Lim Dae-han and I were at a room cafe with flowers around that were too much for two boys to come. Because of the strong air conditioner, I got chills under my school uniform. I turned my head and looked around, then returned my gaze to Dae-han.
Lim Dae-han threw the straw on the table because he couldn’t get it to stir the drink any longer. Then he took the glass and poured the ice into his mouth. Crunch crunch crunch. The ice was crushed and broken on the well-kept teeth, and it eventually vanished without a trace. I had a distinct impression that I was about to be chewed on next.
It was purely because of my fragile nature that I couldn’t turn down Dae-han’s offer to go for a drink. Besides, if you look at Dae-han right now, no one will be able to refuse his request.
Lim Dae-han was the son of Jacheon-dong, who was tough and rough, as well as tall and bulky, as opposed to me, who only managed to reach 175 centimeters. I was afraid to say no because he does seem to be a well-built thug. The last reason was that Dae-han grabbed my wrist and strode out, waving at the roadside and grabbing a taxi before I even said anything.
I couldn’t even say no, so I hopped into the back seat of the taxi and headed downtown without saying anything to Dae-han. The taxi driver looked at me through the rearview mirror, as if he was worried about me because of the physical difference. Lim Dae-han, like a real thug, said, “Hey uncle, drive well. Don’t keep staring at me,” threatening the taxi driver.
My blood began to drain from my body as soon as I heard those words, and I got goosebumps all over my body. In an instant, the heat that had been circling inside my body disappeared. I was afraid Dae-han would sell me or ask me to give up everything I had now. Of course, all I had in my hand were a couple of ten thousand won bills.
Contrary to my worries, Dae-han politely offered the taxi fare and completed the calculation. I stood there staring at him. Following that, Dae-han is the closest to where we are standing, with the crudely written ‘Full Air-conditioner! Flying with M House in the hot summer’ We came to this room cafe where we are now seated opposite each other.
Lim Dae-han, in contrast to the brightly colored petals on the sofa, seemed more like a bully up close. He sat on the sofa with one leg crossed. His thighs were thick, so his legs were raised high. Then he glanced at his phone for nothing and looked at me. I quickly lowered my head when I met his gaze.
It was called a room cafe, but it had a structure with perforated ceilings. Despite the fact that there was clearly a separate smoking room next to the entrance, the smell of cigarettes permeated the next room. Even where we were sitting, there were ashtrays on the table, which could be because it’s a room cafe, there’s less regulation, or they turn a blind eye to it. When my gaze slowly reached the ashtray, Dae-han asked.
“Ki Young-hyun, do you smoke?”
Before the question was even finished, I shook my head. I’ve never even touched a cigarette. My father said that when my mother became pregnant, he immediately quit smoking after smoking for ten years, and no one has smoked in the house since then. However, it appeared that my brother smoked outside on occasion.
I have seen my classmates smoking from elementary and middle school to high school. And some of the guys I was close with used to smoke to get in shape, but they never let me. The reason for this was that I, who looked weak at first sight, would collapse after sucking on the smoke just once.
Anyway, Dae-han and I were facing each other. Lim Dae-han looked extremely anxious after talking about cigarettes. It was like a withdrawal symptom. He clenched his fists and trembled his legs. I think he was desperate for cigarettes. I said it as if I was doing it in a good deed.
“If you want to smoke, you can.”
“I’m serious. You can smoke.”
Instead of answering, Lim Dae-han took the ice in the glass to his mouth. Crunch crunch crunch. I opened my mouth as I watched the ice crumble miserably in the gaps between his teeth, like ice being crushed by an icebreaker.
“… But why did you ask me to come?”
At the words, Dae-han returned his gaze to me. He rested one arm on the back of the sofa while scratching his chin with the other. He took a deep breath, moistened his parched lips, and tilted his head. His eyes blinked a little faster.
Is he requesting a difficult favor from me? I didn’t have much contact with Dae-han, and the only difficult thing I could do was giving money. But would he look so embarrassed when he’s extorting money from someone? If he simply says, “Lend me some money,” I believe they’ll have the bills in their hands as soon as he does. Anyway, I will said what I thought for now.
“I don’t have money.”
Lim Dae-han’s eyebrows furrowed. The brow ridges protruded. In summary, it was ferocious and scary. Was it obvious that I had money? I quickly searched my pocket, biting my lips inward. I pulled out two 10,000 won bills that were in the back of my phone case. I carefully held it with both hands, as if it were a precious treasure, and held it out in front of Dae-han giving it to him.
“This is the only thing I have. I’m telling the truth.”
“Hey, Ki Young-hyun.”
“I have a lot of money. Who are you looking at as a bully?”
But you are a bully.
I felt like crying.
“… Then why did you ask me to come with you?”
Lim Han did not respond to my questions and instead asked what he wanted to ask. The voice’s pitch wasn’t too high. Recognizing that it was an eloquent question, I shook my head and replied.
“It’s all right.”
“Why aren’t you drinking?”
“I’m going to drink…”
“When you come to a cafe, do you usually drink green tea?”
“Yeah… I can’t drink coffee.”
“Are you seeing anyone?”
I felt uneasy after answering and looked at Dae-han with suspicion. What’s with the seeing someone question? Does he want to be introduced to someone? But I don’t know any women whom I could introduce him to. This is because I entered the current school after attending a middle school full of boys. Although it was a coeducational class, it was divided into two classes, male and female. And I wasn’t the type of person who went wild and poked around looking for a way to talk to the girls.
I wasn’t really interested in women.
Dae-han asked again as if to confirm.
“You don’t have a lover?”
Lim Dae-han’s expression and voice softened a bit. I was embarrassed by the word he used. I’m not sure if it was because he wasn’t using a girlfriend or a boyfriend, but the word lover felt strange to me. I glanced at him and nodded slowly. Lim Dae-han seemed to be threatening me at any moment, but he grinned at the moment as the hardened corner of his mouth loosened.
What’s wrong with him…
I swallowed the words that I couldn’t get out of my mouth. Lim Dae-han smacks his lips. Then he rubbed his hand on his thigh. After a moment’s hesitation, he reached out to me with his big and thick hand.
“Then go out with me.”
After I finished speaking, I stuck my lips together and kept silent. It was a word that popped out of my mouth. I couldn’t take that back. Unconsciously, I took my hands and humbly placed them on my lap. The gaze that had been fixed on Dae-han gradually shifted to the hand. Lim Dae-han remained silent. I slowly raised my eyes and looked into Lim Dae-han’s eyes at that moment.
Lim Dae-han who had been smirking became desolate in an instant. The shape of the eyebrows protruded from one side like a wave. It looked like he was about to grab me by the neck and throw me on the sofa at any moment. I suddenly felt embarrassed.
It would have been better than this if he had ripped me out 20,000 won. If he had asked for 20,000 won, I would have given it to him without hesitation. The 10,000-won bill, which had crumpled folds, was lying on the table without being opened properly. It was just like me.
I took turns looking at the table and then at Dae-han before slowly raising my eyes. Then I let out a weak, trembling voice, regardless of who heard it.
“I-I don’t think we can…”
Dae-han asked without hesitation. You have no idea why not? I was completely freaked out.
“You and I are both men.”
“Ki Young-hyun, you are so outdated.”
When I heard the word outdated from Lim Dae-han, a bully at school, I felt emotional and something boiling inside of me. But I couldn’t show it, and I couldn’t deny his words. Lim Dae-han didn’t seem to like what I said.
“A-and… We never really talked before.”
Do I even have to say this?
Should there even be a reason for rejection? I didn’t like him, no matter how handsome, tall, and well-built Lim Dae-han was, even if he was popular with the girls at school. In fact, if Dae-han asks them to date, they will turn around and run away without hesitation. Isn’t there a difference between being interested and dating? Anyway, Lim Dae-han is that kind of guy.
In response to my answer, Lim Dae-han tilted his head for a moment before straightening up again. Perhaps because he was tall or because of my fear, his attitude appeared arrogant when he looked down at the person at an angle.
“I’ve seen you talk a lot. Can’t you just talk like that with me?”
After asking, I regretted it. Where do you see it? He must have seen it at school. However, there were many people around Dae-han who rubbed their palms like flies to get something from him. He doesn’t seem to speak much, but he had always been twisted. In fact, he wouldn’t even have time to see I’m talking.
“In the classroom.”
Lim Dae-han answered the obvious question. In a way, it was a kind gesture.
“Seeing you talk and having a conversation with you are two different things.”
Lim Dae-han poked his red tongue out from between his lips and lightly licked his lips. Then, out of annoyance, he quietly uttered a swears words. My body stiffened, and I made eye contact with Lim Dae-han.
“What should I do then?”
Lim Dae-han asked me with an annoyed face. What should I say if you ask me about that?
I only dated once when I was in the first year of middle school. A girl from the same elementary school sent a message asking me to go out with her and we only dated for about two weeks. Even then, we had only met twice. We went to the same academy, but we couldn’t even speak properly.
I just blinked and looked at Dae-han. Lim Dae-han swore again when I couldn’t answer. There was no hesitation in the swear words that came out of his mouth. He rubbed his face with his hand as if it were a pot lid. Then he let out a heavy sigh.
A random word came out.
“You said that you didn’t want to go out with me right away. Then let’s talk. And then we go out.”
The only difference is in delaying and pulling the timing. Will it become natural for them to date?
With that ridiculous force, I scratched my chin. Why does he want to go out with me? It was just awkward. Then suddenly, ‘Why should we go out? What kind of emotions do people usually have when dating?’ I thought. Gradually, emotions took a direction. It felt like blood was drying up all over my body. Then I asked,
“Do you like me?”
Only then did the expression of Lim Dae-han, who was confident in everything, slowly collapsed. Dae-han did not answer and hesitated. He didn’t know that I was more embarrassed by that look. Lim Dae-han couldn’t make eye contact with me, so I turned my gaze to the tips of Lim Dae-han’s red ears. It’s summer… but I keep getting goosebumps all over my body.
I guess he really likes me…
Dae-han drank two more drinks while I was emptying mine. There was a reason he was so big. We haven’t had a conversation in the meantime. Lim Dae-han simply repeated the order and drinking as if he was so thirsty. When the glass in front of me was nearly empty, Lim Dae-han pulled out his phone.
I looked into Lim Dae-han’s eyes and asked with a little annoyed tone. Dae-han raised his chin. It was still overbearing, but the atmosphere became more ferocious.
“You want it?”
I took the phone with both hands, cautiously. I pressed my lips together and typed the number 010… I politely handed the phone to me after I finished typing, without thinking about saving or calling the number.
Lim Dae-han rubbed his chin, looked at his phone, and dialed without hesitation.
Vibrate Vibrate Vibrate.
My pocket began to vibrate. I smiled wryly and looked at the phone, which had Dae-han’s eleven digit number displayed on it. I gripped the phone tightly in my hand.
“What would you like to eat?”
My voice rang out unintentionally. One of Lim Dae- han’s brows furrowed.
“Aren’t you hungry?”
“I-I want to go home.”
Lim Dae-han did not hide his dissatisfaction. I pursed up my lips and wondered why Dae-han liked me. I had never spoken to him, and he was always surrounded by girls wearing short skirts and heavy makeup.
There were more men out there if Dae-han had a taste for that. Didn’t they say there are people who rub their arms and legs like flies in order to pick up bean powder and eat it?
“Then let’s go home.”
Lim Dae-han finished speaking and got up. I didn’t stay in my sear for long, but I stretched out my shoulders because my posture was uncomfortable. There was a crackling sound whenever I tilted my head. I opened my lips slightly, looked at Dae-han, and turned my head to meet his gaze.
“Let’s go home.”
Lim Dae-han tapped the table with his finger. I shuddered when I saw that, but I didn’t want to admit it.
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