However, Yi Ruda would shake those boys’ trees instead of teaming up with us? While I bit my chopsticks with a frown, Shin Suh Hyun quietly spoke to me, “Lately, Yi Ruda didn’t talk to us that much than before except for when he needed us. He was mostly in Class 2-7 too.”
“Ah, really, that’s true!” agreed Lee Mina. Being startled at the remark, she turned to look at Yoon Jung In. She asked, “Did you notice that?”
All eyes around the table then turned to Yoon Jung In. Receiving our attention, Yoon Jung In showed an embarrassed smile, which seldom happened. Scratching his chin, he said, “Well, what can we say to him who doesn’t want to get involved in something bothersome? Besides, I heard that Yi Ruda had been in a complicated situation regarding his family issues.”
“And Yi Ruda always kind of avoided to be involved deeply in something and tried to maintain neutrality. Didn’t he also just stay calm when you and Lee Soo Yeon were fighting?”
When the arrow suddenly turned toward me, I flinched for a second then slowly nodded my head. What Yoon Jung In said was true. The girl, who always had a conflict with me at the beginning of freshmen year and controlled a negative atmosphere toward me when Ban Yeo Ryung’s hater club thing took place, was Lee Soo Yeon. I even forgot her name, but Yoon Jung In was clearly remembering her. He seemed to be very interested in not only our class but also in people.
With a shrug, Yoon Jung In continued speaking, “I think that’s his character. We should just accept it then. Although Yi Ruda didn’t take our side, we can’t get upset about that.”
“Besides, according to his personality, Yi Ruda won’t team up with Hwang Siwoo’s group either.”
I nodded again at Yoon Jung In’s remark. It was unimaginable for Yi Ruda getting along with Hwang Siwoo’s group and boasting their nationwide fighter rankings. He would rather just sneer instead of behaving that way.
Yi Ruda, who went through a real battle, the so-called succession war, in the first place, would consider the fighter ranking thing as just a joke.
However, realizing the fact that Yi Ruda had been avoiding us lately for that reason, was quite shocking. Even when our conversation topic was switched to something else, I just nibbled the food absentmindedly.
Yi Ruda always did observe neutrality. However, that was only until our freshman year; according to his words, Ruda was ‘acting’ during that time. He had acted to get along with the class more easily. He learned from his mother those things to adapt to new circumstances and stay conveniently anywhere.
However, Yi Ruda now was different from that time. Above all, he had no reason to hide himself; actually, didn’t Yi Ruda even declare that he wouldn’t treat the kids anymore with a false attitude? But now he was avoiding to get along with us while being afraid of fighting with Hwang Siwoo? Something was weird.
However, just as Yoon Jung In said earlier, Yi Ruda didn’t want to be involved in any troublesome. Thus, we couldn’t get upset while asking, ‘What aren’t you taking our side?’ This was sincerely a matter we couldn’t help.
Geez… Heaving a sigh, I turned my head to look at where Yi Ruda was sitting. He looked quite excited while chitchatting, laughing, and playing with classmates from the same class last year. Even though he became more straightforward, Yi Ruda was still a popular kid. Above all, he was like a god among the kids because of his excellent ability to play soccer.
The moment I stared in that direction vacantly, I had eye contact with Yi Ruda. Although there were quite many people around, Ruda noticed me without any difficulty and lifted his hand with a grin.
However, a moment after, Yi Ruda put his hand down wordlessly once he switched his gaze to somewhere else. He then sent an enigmatic smile in that direction and turned his head toward his friends again. Watching him behaving that way, I suddenly found someone who was looking at Ruda from a distance.
It was Hwang Siwoo. He kept an eye from time to time toward Yi Ruda while talking to a group of five boys in our class, which would be his clique. Before he got to notice my glance, I quickly turned my head away.
Kim Hye Hill asked, “What’s wrong?”
Tapping my chest, I replied, “I was about to have eye contact with Hwang Siwoo.”
“What? Why did you look in that direction?” said Kim Hye Hill
“Yeah, why did you do that? You’ll be hard to digest.”
Kim Hye Woo responded naughtily after Kim Hye Hill, which made me giggle. Even the Kim twins, who didn’t reveal hostility toward people, hated Hwang Siwoo already.
Shaking my head, I grabbed my spoon again. Aside from recovering my smile, my heart was still pounding nervously.
The fifth class, which was right after lunchtime, was PE class. The Kim twins, who hated to go outside while being short on time, changed their clothes in advance and suggested me to stop by at the snack bar to grab something and then walk in the schoolyard.
“Should we?” I asked and took out my gym clothes from the locker.
There was quite a distance between the boy’s and girl’s bathrooms; thus, Kim Hye Hill and I left the classroom after promising Kim Hye Woo that we would meet him at the central entrance.
Before leaving the classroom, my eyes habitually searched for Ban Hwee Hyul’s seat. However, it was empty. At that moment, a boy running around the classroom unconsciously stumbled over Ban Hwee Hyul’s desk legs and fell onto the floor.
The new desk and chair rolled on the floor with a loud thud; things inside the desk came out to the dusty floor. The backpack hanging quietly beside the desk also flew away to a far place and landed there.
The boy who tripped raised his head while coughing. Pointing at the desk, he asked, “Argh, whose seat is this?”
Kids began to respond immediately.
“I don’t know. There’s a weirdo who always wears glasses and walks around quietly despite his big and bulky physique.”
“Ah, you mean him? He does nothing during the break but just keeps sitting on his seat. I wondered what he was doing, but nothing was on his desk. He wasn’t even listening to music though.”
“Oh, really? What’s wrong with him?”
With that response, the boy picked up the textbooks scattered on the floor and roughly shoved them in the desk; Lifting Ban Hwee Hyul’s backpack that was flown far away, the boy suddenly tilted his head.
“Why?” asked another boy.
The boy replied, “I mean, this bag is really light. Is there nothing inside?”
“What the hell?! He looks like either a nerd or an otaku.”
Listening to that conversation, I became tense. Thankfully, they didn’t go too far such as opening the backpack of someone who wasn’t on his seat. Watching the sight of the boys quietly putting Ban Hwee Hyul’s bag back onto the desk, I was able to heave a sigh of relief and finally leave the classroom.
While I was walking side by side with Kim Hye Hill, she flung a question out of the blue.
“Are you close to Ban Hwee Hyul?” She then suddenly turned her head and murmured, ‘Why does he have such a name like that?’ with a look of frustration.
Now I had come to think of it, in Kim Hye Hill’s point of view, who had a sense close to that of ordinary people, she might have noticed that Ban Hwee Hyul’s name was somewhat unusual.
Smiling awkwardly, I opened my mouth.
“It was obvious, huh?”
“Not just obvious, but it was all over your face. You look at his seat every day during class and even during the break,” replied Kim Hye Hill.
“You know Kim Hye Woo told me about it first.”
Once she drove a wedge in that way, I touched my forehead. So it meant that not only the Kim twins but also other kids had noticed the connection between Ban Hwee Hyul and me.
In the end, I replied with a shrug, “I bumped into him last time in the gym storage room and spoke to him a few times… ah, no. Before that time, I had met him in front of our apartment. Maybe he lives nearby our place.”
Kim Hye Hill asked another question, “Then you glanced around during lunchtime to find him, right?”
I nodded at her remark. Just as she said, it might have been all over my face.
Casting down her eyes, Kim Hye Hill uttered, “Actually, I also looked for him after you… but he didn’t seem to come to the cafeteria ever since the school started.”
“Eh, really?” I asked in surprise. My face turned pale. I tried to move on while considering that it was my misunderstanding; however, if Kim Hye Hill, who had way better memories and observations than me, declared that way, Ban Hwee Hyul would definitely not be eating in the cafeteria. Jesus, where and what the heck was he doing at lunchtime then?