I held my breath for a second. Raising my head to look at Yeo Dan oppa, I saw his black hair swaying through the breeze. It seemed like his voice was still in the air surrounding me.
Dropping that remark, he remained wordless for quite a while and kept bending his steps quietly as if he was born to carry me on his back. I stared at the back of his head then finally opened my mouth again.
“Yeo… Yeo Dan oppa!”
As I nerved myself to grasp his shirttails, he turned his head to look at me, asking, “Huh?”
“Getting rid of the stalker… I’ll just help you with that.”
Slightly stiffening his face, he replied, “I told you I don’t want to cause you any trouble.”
I knew he would speak that way. I quickly responded, “But oppa, if something similar happens to me, you’re also gonna help me, aren’t you?”
He indeed couldn’t say anything. ‘Yeah, that’s true,’ I smiled triumphantly only in my thoughts.
Staring down at me with mixed feelings for a while, Yeo Dan oppa detached his lips, at last.
“Would you really be okay?”
“What if you’re exposed to danger?” With that said, Yeo Dan oppa frowned. It looked as though he didn’t even want to think about it. I replied nonchalantly, “Shouldn’t I just stick around with you as much as I can?”
“But there are things that I can’t handle since we go to different schools.”
“Oppa, if someone puts something in your backpack without anyone knowing, isn’t that very serious?”
He then walked for a while wordlessly. Riding on his back in silence, I just waited for his answer. A moment after, I giggled at his response.
“If you look dangerous, I’m gonna quit immediately.”
“Geez, I’m serious.”
Grumbling that way, Yeo Dan oppa heaved a sigh and quickened his pace. I laughed without any hesitation while hanging on his back.
* * *
As soon as Yeo Dan oppa put me down in front of my house, I asked him, “Oppa, do I look red?”
I grasped right away after his hesitant response. ‘Gosh, I’m blushing…!’ Looking down at me in bewilderment, Yeo Dan oppa took his phone out of the blue and speed-dialed Number 1. In less than a few seconds, the sweetest voice I had ever known came over from the phone.
“Are you at home?”
“Of course, I am. It’s already ten at night.”
“I’ll send Donnie to your room then.”
I could hear Yeo Ryung’s perplexed voice, asking, “What? Why would you say that?”
“Cuz she’s here beside me.”
As soon as Yeo Dan oppa replied that way, Yeo Ryung burst the door open and jumped out of the house. The Bans weren’t just excellent in scholastic performances or athletic abilities. As if they had another level of five senses, Ban Yeo Ryung, who took just a few steps toward me, suddenly halted and shouted, “What the hell? I smell alcohol! Donnie, who made you drink? Is it oppa?”
Yeo Dan oppa immediately replied, “It was a mistake.”
“Mistake? Making two mistakes can even kill someone!”
Watching Yeo Ryung striking a retort with fiery eyes, I was sweating bullets. ‘Yeo Ryung, I heard people saying, one moment of patience may ward off great disaster. However, I never heard about what you just said.’
“Not two mis… nah, my bad. It’s my fault.”
“Anyway, even you found out that she’s a little drunk, so I thought it’s better to make her sleepover at your room.”
Yeo Ryung loosened up her strained expression with a nod. I also considered that returning home this way would lead my parents to slap me on the back and impose me a curfew for a while.
Stretching her hand to bring me into her house, Yeo Ryung asked, “Now I come to think of it, why are you and Donnie coming home together? Both of you went outside separately. Donnie, didn’t you tell me that you’re joining a group hangout?”
Her questions made me nod. ‘Ah, that’s right. That was why I borrowed Ban Yeo Ryung’s clothes early in the morning and made all that fuss… but once I met Yeo Dan oppa at some point, I totally forgot about it.’
I vaguely recalled the memories of the afternoon in my drunk, blurry head. Lee Mina’s mature outfit at the café, her friends, Moon Sarah and Ahn Ji Young, who were less close to me but greeting me so friendly, and the boys sitting on the opposite side…
Then when an unpleasant memory flashed through my head, I slightly grimaced. As if she had made a rough guess, Yeo Ryung, who stiffened her face, pulled me into her house determinedly. I politely bowed at her parents, who were in the living room, then went straight to Yeo Ryung’s room along with Yeo Dan oppa.
He told me beforehand that he didn’t want his sister to know about the stalker thing, so our conversation moved naturally to what Chun Dong Ho had done to me.
Having heard the overall story about why Yeo Dan oppa took me out from the group hangout, Yeo Ryung pounded her desk with a loud thud and yelled, “WHAT?!” She then glanced around and picked up a sharp pencil.
“Yeo Ryung, what are you trying to do with that?” I asked while trying hard to stay as calm as possible.
“I guess his eyes don’t function properly. He needs a new sight, so I’m gonna pierce some new visions on the back of his head…”
“Hey, you shouldn’t talk anything like that while holding a pencil. Put it down ASAP.”
‘That looks very dangerous,’ adding those words, I snatched the pencil out of Yeo Ryung’s hand and hung my head down to smile without showing it to her.
‘Geez, how would I have lived if the Bans didn’t live next-doors?’ Whenever things like this happened, there were people standing by me. If those people weren’t around, I would have become a very gloomy person long ago.
These people were the ones who made my life turn abnormal; however, they were also those who helped me sustain in this world as an average person.
That was when Yeo Dan oppa suddenly opened his mouth.
“Oh, and we…”
Speaking that way, he read my countenance, which brought me up with something that I had forgotten. ‘Ah, right. That must be told, right?’ Having that thought, I intervened in his words.
“No, oppa, I’ll tell her.”
“No, I will.”
“Come on, let me do it.”
While Yeo Ryung’s eyes opened wide, Yeo Dan oppa and I quarreled for a while. It was finally me who seized the chance to victory. Clearing my throat, I uttered severely, “Um, Yeo Ryung… we…”
Before I was able to conclude my words, Yeo Ryung cut in all of a sudden.
“Did you guys fight?”
“What? Ah, no!”
Didn’t she just see us stepping into the house in peace? How could she reach that conclusion? Well, since we had known each other for a long time, we could have a fight and still come together home as if family members could have a war but could naturally have breakfast the next day.
Barely handling my flush of bewilderment, I carefully continued, “No, that’s not it. Um, uh… Yeo Dan oppa and I…”
Whether I became perplexed or not, Yeo Ryung grabbed my both hands with hers and uttered with a twinkling gaze, “I’m glad that you’re trying to keep oppa at a distance, Donnie.”
“No, hold on. What does that mean?”
“Oppa doesn’t wear clothes properly at home and always surprise you.”
Nah, that seemed to be Yeo Dan oppa’s biggest strength… I couldn’t speak the truth in front of him, so I just had my mouth shut. Anyway, Yeo Ryung was utterly misunderstanding us since earlier! I flustered and said, “That isn’t what I’m trying to say––.”
At that moment, Yeo Dan oppa, who was observing the situation from beside me, opened his mouth and dropped a simple remark.
“We are together.”
It was just those three words; however, we found out how a three-word sentence could change the look on someone’s face so dramatically. Yeo Ryung’s glowing complexion turned almost dark blue all of a sudden as if someone spilled a bucket of black water over her face.
Looking back and forth between oppa and me for quite a while, she was about to cry. She seemed to realize that we weren’t joking at all once she saw how determined we looked. Holding my hand, Yeo Ryung blurted out like a shriek, which disconcerted me.
“Why… why…? For what reason?!”
Now I had come to think of it, we didn’t set up any suitable reason to explain how things went on to this point. Hmm, what should I say to sound natural? Wondering what to respond, I quickly raised my head when I heard a response returning from beside me.
“We had a crush on each other for a long time ago.”