She poked at the increasingly unappetizing school lunch, her mind — unused to all this thinking — jumbled up with potential excuses and escape routes. Oblivious to Yubi's despair, the group continued to giggle, throwing in their own little guesses about just who her mystery boyfriend could be. Was he handsome? Was he from this school? Was he older? Oh my god, is he studying abroad? And on it went.
Now, what was there to despair about in this lighthearted conversation, you ask? The fact, of course, that she didn't have a boyfriend at all, much less an older, handsome, foreign one. And that was despair-inducing enough on its own, what with her having been solo since birth, without her friends having such wild expectations about this non-existent guy.
She knew she should never have made up that stupid lie, but it had been in the spur of the moment and the desire to avoid humiliation sealed her mouth from spilling the truth even after she'd come to her senses. In the end, she had been well and truly got by her own scam, and she had nothing to blame but herself. She glanced over at Yuna with a pleading look, hoping for at least help, if not salvation, but the timing was off and she failed to catch the other girl's eyes.
"I'm betting it's Hojun," one of them theorized, grinning like she'd gotten full marks on a test instead of spouted absolute blasphemy, catching Yubi's attention at last. As a chorus of agreements and sounds of realization echoed around the table, Yubi's expression shifted from helpless to indignant.
"What?!" Her voice was too loud as always, piercing through at least half the canteen before she quietened down. "Are you crazy? It's definitely not him," she scoffed, leaning back in her chair as if to sulk when she was met with doubtful gazes. These girls didn't get it; Hojun wasn't at all her type. Her type was... her thoughts flickered briefly to two rows down, where a certain other boy sat, probably not paying her any attention.
"You just don't want to admit that you two finally got together, right?" Her friend laughed, chin resting on one hand with a knowing glint in her eyes, adding on a very confident: "It makes so much sense."
"Nope," Yubi insisted, a small frown forming on her face. Damn, how was she gonna get out of this mess? Maybe it was time to go on one of those sketchy boyfriend-for-hire websites and give that (unwise) idea a try. She wondered how much those even cost — as if she even had a budget. Yubi was broke.
"Okay, then why don't you just introduce us to this mystery guy?" Her friend pressed, her tone challenging. Because he doesn't exist, Yubi wanted to cry out, and barely held herself back from doing it. She'd told them so many times that he was "really shy", but they weren't buying it any longer and she was unfortunately low on her excuses reserve.
"I mean, unless you don't actu-" the girl continued, and despite the teasing tone, Yubi flinched. Before the sentence could even be finished, she brought her hands down onto the table and stood up, pushing the chair back with an echoing screech, as she exclaimed, "I do have a boyfriend, okay?!"
Suddenly, it felt like a spotlight had been shined on her, and she froze. Yikes. She was a fool. A total idiot. Her life was a comedy and she was the running joke. In which case, the punchline must be her suffering. People shot curious stares at her and it felt to her like they, too, expected some answers. Yubi glanced around in panic, her thoughts racing and her mind ready to grasp at any straws.
Right then, she saw him, standing right behind her. Ha Daehyun. A familiar face. A friendly face. A kindhearted, warm, compassionate face that wouldn't leave her to die in disgrace. Her savior. With the most wounded-dog expression she'd ever pulled off yet, she reached out to force him to her side, literally and metaphorically. And in the brightest tone she could manage, she cut the rope to her own guillotine with the words: "Right, Hyun-ie?"
Daehyun was never a big fan of loud places and the school cafeteria was for sure one of the places that even if he didn't despise he wasn't thrilled to spend most of his time there. Maybe it was the fact that he wasn't interested in listening to the hottest gossip in school or know how the school clubs were doing and how cool and amazing the aces of the teams were.
Well, maybe the last part was due to his jealousy because there was a time when he was the ace of the basketball team and everyone looked up to him to carry the team to the finals, but his athlete career ended as soon as the asthma attacks appeared and even if there had passed years where he hadn't had one, he was in the mindset that if he couldn't give it his 100% then he wouldn't do it.
And that was the main reason how he ended up in the literature club, not because he was a vivid reader if it was his choice he would have rather join the photography club, but taking nice pictures wouldn't take you to a good university and at least the literature club gave you the opportunity to seem more educated.
a voice that Daehyun identified as Yubi's rumble throughout the cafeteria, it seemed that their topic of conversation became a shock to his fellow events committee member as when he glanced at her, she seemed flustered and her friends seemed giddy about the whole situation Those girls really seem more chatty than usual. What do you think they are talking about? one of his friends asked curiously I think they are asking her about her boyfriend or something like that another voice in his group of friends replied. Maybe he should have already left when he had the opportunity he didn't want to engage in a conversation about Yubi's love life.
Not like he didn't care about the girl, but he didn't consider himself close enough to meddle in her personal life just like her wasn't close to him, they were just acquaintances that happen to be on the same committee, so gossiping about her love life wasn't something that he wanted to do nor he was interested in it. After all, he had his own love life to worry about.
Asking Cho Yuna out was his main priority right now, the girl that started as just a person she knew at her cram school which later became his study buddy and eventually became the girl he was crushing on after spending time with her. She was intelligent and pretty and she was also caring with the people she cared about, there was no way that no one would crush on her even the bookworm Ha Daehyun who only seemed to care more about his grades than anything else.
He managed to come with the perfect date, well, after browsing for date spots, he wanted to do things the right way and that was knowing what kind of place would Yuna like because even if it was a popular place he wasn't going to take her to Lotte World, it would have been as having two fish out of the water, so Coex Mall with their 50,000 book library and movie theatre was for him his best bet. Now he just needed to ask her, but doing it in the middle of the cafeteria didn't sound like something a girl would like. He just needed to find the perfect moment where he wouldn't be interrupted or become the topic of conversation of all the school.
That's when he remembered that he still had Yuna's notes, giving them back to her and asking for help even if he didn't need it was the perfect excuse to ask her out.
"I have to go"
he said to his friends as he picked up his stuff and headed towards where the girl was seating
Everything was according to how he pictured it on his head, that was when he was dragged next to someone and that someone being no other than Hong Yubi. Wait, what was going on? He just came to give back the math notes of Yuna
the girl said. What she was talking about? Why she was calling him Hyun-ie?
The boy said, he was like a deer in the headlights and that's when he noticed the perplexed look on Yubi's friends Are you really dating Daehyun? one of them asked as if she couldn't believe what her eyes were seeing, and that's when he realized what was going on. Yubi didn't have a boyfriend she was just making up a lie and he was just in the right place and time to become the "boyfriend" and she could continue with her act.
He could have said no, that he didn't like Yubi and that they weren't close everything would be over, but he was supposed to be the kindhearted and compassionate Daehyun, he was supposed to be the one that would have to take one for the team and would have helped Yubi without thinking, he wouldn't have had such a struggle on knowing what to say if the girl he liked didn't happen to be the best friend of the girl that was now claiming him as her boyfriend, but even if he wanted to say no with all his heart he couldn't let Yubi be the embarrassment of the entire school, even if his golden boy persona was more of a facade at this point just to be liked by everyone and in reality, he cared more about himself than others he wasn't a monster that would just let her die in disgrace and also because he had a big soft spot for dogs and Yubi was looking like one right now as she pleaded that he would help her.
Now, what was he supposed to do? It wasn't like he never had a girlfriend before, but he was never in a position to pretend he was dating someone, should he put his arm around her? Give her a kiss on her cheek? Hold her hand? Maybe he should start by agreeing that he was in fact "dating" her
"Oh Yes! I thought you weren't ready yet to tell others about us that's why I was surprised, but yes we are dating"
he said as he ruffled her hair tenderly.
Ha Daehyun sealed his fate and it wasn't how he wanted.
To be completely honest, Yuna wasn't really listening. It wasn't the first time the topic had been discussed and she was sure it wouldn't be the last, so she had put on her customary slight, oblivious smile as the other girls continued to throw out teasingly exaggerated theories. And the conversation would end as the bell rang with the same conclusion, because she knew Yubi didn't have a boyfriend. Yuna was sure her best friend would've told her the moment she started dating someone, and the mysterious boyfriend that had popped into existence sometime last December had definitely been left out of their conversations thus far.
Yuna could admire her best friend's commitment to her charade but her attention was elsewhere— namely on the boy seated just a few tables away. He was smiling at something his friends had said, and just the sight of him was giving her butterflies. Not that Yuna was hopeful, or anything, that they might go to something a little more than friends, but there was no denying she certainly felt that way herself. As if feeling her eyes on him, he turned towards her suddenly and she glanced back hastily at her friends, somewhat relieved Yubi was occupying all of the table's attention. Were they talking about Hojun now?
It was all of three seconds before Yuna snuck another peek at Daehyun, only to find that he had left his seat and had begun walking towards her. Them, she corrected, even as her heart skipped a hopeful beat in her chest.
She lifted a hand as he approached, trying to hide the beaming smile that was itching to spread across her lips, only for her view of him to be immediately obstructed. "I do have a boyfriend, okay?" Yuna jumped in surprise, glancing up at a visibly frustrated Yubi with a mixture of shock and concern. Ah, had she let it go too far?
"That's enough, you guys–"
she began, with the gentle chiding tone she always used when the time came to conclude the "Does Yubi have a boyfriend" segment, only for the girl of the hour's voice to cut through. There was an unfamiliar sweetness embellishing her tone, one that she only recognised from the few times Yubi had spoken about her crush on one of their schoolmates, though it was the name she sang that made Yuna do a double-take.
Hyun-ie? When had they gotten close? Her eyes darted between the two of them, lingering on Daehyun just that beat longer, then back to the girls who seemed equally as surprised by the turn of events as she was, though surely without any of her despair. "Are you really dating Daehyun?" The question was taken right out of her mouth, and Yuna did her best to keep her expression neutral, concealing the hope that threatened to spill out if he gave the answer she was looking for. Even as her gaze continued to drift towards the point where the two connected, her best friend's arm wrapped around her crush's.
"Oh Yes! I thought you weren't ready yet to tell others about us that's why I was surprised, but yes we are dating."
Her heart sank.
A tap on her forearm reminded her of where she was, her expression quickly morphing to one of pleasant surprise. Emphasis on pleasant. "Did Yubi not tell you either, Yuna?"
"No, I knew just as you guys did."
Even as her delight sounded painfully disingenuous to herself, it seemed to convince the rest at the table. The conversation restarted quickly, the brief silence overcome with a tirade of questions and comments alike.
"Never took Daehyun as the boy too shy for you to introduce us to, Yubi."
Neither did I.
She forced a smile. Had it all been in her head? Just the one-sided delusions of someone who'd mistakenly fallen for her best friend's boyfriend? Yuna felt like a fool— a clown performing to a mirror.
"Ah, it's a pity. I thought Daehyun and Yuna were the ones that were going to get together."
I thought so too, but I guess I never stood a chance.
The sting at the corner of her lips began to fade, her eyebrows furrowing in a flawless reaction even as her heart thumped its beat of despair.
"Don't say that."
she chided, jumping in without missing a beat; Like a practised line in her script, her voice as gentle as it always was, betraying none of the guilt nor anger that churned through her gut.
Her smile grew wider as she turned to face them, her eyes doe-wide.
"I think they suit each other. But you should have told me, Yubi."
A pout, then a coltish giggle as her fingers clenched around the hem of her skirt.