Monday, August 24, 2009

Chapter 25: Idiot

[Han Kyung’s POV]

I arrived at the harbor with Ryeo Wook, and we scoured the place, looking for the warehouse where my father had taken Sierra to. On our way there, we met up with my father and his entourage.

“Where is she?” I shouted at him. “What did you do to her?”

“Brat!” my father said, and slapped me in the face.

I fell over in shock. It was the first time he’d ever hit me.

“Hyung,” Ryeo Wook called out as he quickly came to help me up.

“Where’s Sierra?” I asked him.

“With her man,” he said.

“What man?” I said.

“You foolish boy. You didn’t even know she had someone else?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Take him with us,” he instructed his men, and they moved forward to grab me.

I fought as hard as I could to fend them off, but they soon wrestled me to the ground. As I lay pinned under at least 2 men, I saw Sierra walking out of the warehouse I’d been searching for. Beside her was Kim Jae Wook, supporting her body with his arm around her. There was blood on her lips, and her face was starting to bruise.

Our eyes met, and I saw her mouth my name, and tried to rush forward, but Kim Jae Wook held her back. There was something different about him. He didn’t look like the boy I’d beaten up last week. There was a big group of men following behind him. How did he managed to gather so many followers within the past few days?

I watched helplessly as my father’s men dragged me away. I could see the concern in Sierra’s eyes, but she wasn’t exactly fighting to come to my rescue. What had happened?

[Jae Wook’s POV]

Music: SHINee - 화장을 하고

“Han Kyung,” Sierra called his name, and tried to rush forward.

He was pinned down to the ground by 2 men. His follower, the punk who beat me up last week, was also pinned down by some men. I tightened my hold around her. I wasn’t going to let her leave me for him again.

“Don’t make things worse for him,” I said softly to Sierra, and she stopped struggling.

We watched as he was dragged away. All this time, his eyes never left me and Sierra, and Sierra’s never left him.

“Kaja,” I said, and we started moving towards my car.

If you’re wondering where all the men came from, my father had provided me with them. He had provided me with enough money and men to start my own gang in Seoul.

“Kwaench’ana?” I asked Sierra as we drove off.

She nodded wordlessly. I knew she was still thinking of Han Kyung. It sickened me that I could not take him off her mind. I thought I’d meant something to her, but now that I’m back, and a brand new person, it didn’t seem to have impressed her one bit.

“He’ll be fine,” I said, just to ease her worries.

Secretly, I wished that his father would teach him a lesson, but if he were to die now, he’d be on Sierra’s mind forever.

“So this is your new profession?” she asked me.

“Sort of,” I smiled. “But I’m still going to school.”

“Do you have time? You’re relatively new,” she said. “You need to work on claiming territories and establishing some sort of business to bring income for your men.”

“My father had branches here in Seoul. All I had to do was to step in and take charge.”

“Easy for you, huh,” she said.

She sounded cold and emotionless. She’d never spoken to me like this in the past 2 weeks we’d known each other. 2 weeks. That was how long since I’d met this girl, and I’ve changed myself and embraced my hateful past for her. Will she appreciate what I did for her?

“I never wanted this life,” I said.

“Then why did you do it?” she asked.

“Why else? For you!” I said.

“I don’t need this,” she said.

“If I hadn’t come back on time, you’d have been dead,” I said, “or suffered a fate worse than death.”

“You’re not the master of my fate,” she said.

“Why are you doing this?” I asked her. “I thought you’d be happy now that we can be together.”

“I hate that you’d sold your beliefs for me,” she said.

“It’s just temporary,” I assured her. “I made a deal with my father. It will only be a year.”

“Will he let you go so easily? After that 1 year?” she asked.

“I won’t allow him to patronize me,” I said.

“Look at Han Kyung,” she said. “He was fighting against his father all this while, but in the end, he still failed.”

“It won’t happen to me,” I insisted. “My father only wants 1 year from me, and it doesn’t even start now. I told him that I wanted to graduate from high school before I served my bond with him.”

“So you’re leaving Seoul after we graduate?”

“As long as you’ll come with me,” I said.

“No…” she said.

“You have till graduation to think about it,” I said. “Let’s not discuss this now.”

“I want nothing to do with you anymore, Kim Jae Wook, Ihara Rui… whatever you are now… I want nothing to do with you,” she said.

She was crying now. She looked so sad and frustrated. Every word that came from her mouth stung me, but I still wanted to hear her voice.

“Uljima,” I said, and reached out to wipe the tears from her cheeks.

“Don’t touch me,” she said, and pushed my hand away.

She covered her face with her hands, and started sobbing. I reached out and pulled her into my arms to hold her. She struggled at first, trying to pull away, but as I held her and gently rubbed her back, she calmed down, and allowed me to hold her.

“Shiro…” she sobbed.

“Saranghae…” I whispered. “Saranghae…”

“Shiro…” she cried.

“Saranghae…” I whispered again.

I pulled away from her, and held her up so that she faced me. I kissed cheeks, tasting the tears she cried. She closed her eyes, and allowed me to continue. I took it as consent, and kissed her lips.

“Saranghae…” I whispered as our lips met.

I knew somewhere inside, she did love me. No matter how much Han Kyung was able to sway her, it was only because she still had feelings for him out of habit. She loved me now, and I was sure of that. In time, she would forget him, and we will be together forever.

[Sierra’s POV]

I loved Han Kyung. Han Kyung was my first true love; the first guy who shared my sorrows and joys, the first guy who held the key to my soul. As much as I played it out as if I’d hated him after we’d broken up, I was never able to erase him from my heart.

I’d always hoped that Han Kyung would be able to break away from his father. I knew it was impossible, but I’d always hoped for it. It seems even more impossible after today.

But I loved Jae Wook too. The truth was that I was intrigued with the person he’d become. I loved him back when he was sweet and sensitive. I loved him back when he was just a normal guy, trying to win the affections of a princess. But now that he’d changed… he’d become a prince for me, I cannot say I wasn’t impressed. But I hated it all the same.

There was truth in why I’d left Han Kyung. I never liked that he had to fight each day of his life. I never liked how he had to coerce and intimidate people all the time to get his way. If Jae Wook had become such a person for my sake, I’d hate myself for it. I didn’t want him to become such a person.

“Saranghae…” he whispered as he kissed me.

The words broke my resistance and softened my stance. The moment he kissed me, I felt weak and helpless. Before this, I always felt in power when with him. Now that our roles had reversed, and he’d become my protector, I felt the natural urge to succumb to him.

I was kissing him back. It was a betrayal to Han Kyung. I promised that I would stay with him, and now I’ve broken that promise. Would he forgive me? Then again, did it matter if he didn’t? His father will never give us his blessings, and he would go to great lengths to eliminate me if he had to, as proven today. I felt as if I’d betrayed him, but I knew there was little I could do to change the situation now.

I was shocked at Jae Wook’s revelation. His father was also a gangster, and he had become one just so he could get me back. I understood why he did it. He’d barely stand a chance against Han Kyung if he wasn’t equal to him. Now that they were on par, it had become almost a fair fight, with Jae Wook having the advantage since he didn’t need anyone’s permission to be with me.

Whatever price Jae Wook had to pay now, it was for me. It wasn’t a life I wanted, but it seems to be my destiny, be it a life with Han Kyung, or a life with Jae Wook.

[Han Kyung’s POV]

My father’s words resonated in my ear. Her man… Kim Jae Wook was her man? Since when?

I’d been locked up in a room for the past hour. It was pitch dark, and musty from the lack of use. I didn’t even bother to open the drapes or turn on the lights.

“Hyung, kwaench’ana?” Ryeo Wook asked me.

He was also thrown into the room with me.

“Kwaench’ana,” I replied.

Ryeo Wook had been my companion for many years. He was my right hand, and my best friend. He’d seen me through everything; how I came to my own power today, and how Sierra had turned my life upside down. He was the truest friend in the sense that he had never reproached me for how I lived my life, and he’d supported me, no matter what I did.

“Ryeo Wook,” I called to him.


“Am I an idiot?” I asked him.


“Don’t you find me pathetic?” I asked him. “I’m at my lowest now, and I’m still thinking of her.”

“That’s love,” he replied simply.

“Have you loved like this before?” I asked him.

“Once,” he replied, after a moment of silence.

“And I didn’t even know about it,” I laughed. “Some brother I am.”

“You’ve taken care of me for so long,” Ryeo Wook said. “My love life should be the least of your worries.”

“You’re the one who has been taking care of me,” I said to him.

“I am where I am today because of you,” he said. “I will always support you.”

“Even when I’m being an idiot?” I asked.

“Ne,” he laughed, and I laughed with him.

“Just call me ‘idiot’ for today,” I said.

“Ne…” he replied. “Idiot…”

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chapter 24: Caught Up

[Sierra’s POV]

“Wake up,” Hee Chul shook me by my shoulders.

“Hmm?” I got up, and licked my chapped lips.

“What’s up wit you?” he asked. “You don’t usually fall asleep in class.”

“Long night…” I yawned. “Don’t ask.”

He shook his head and turned away to pay attention to the lesson. I turned my head to look back, out of habit. Jae Wook wasn’t there, and Si Won caught me looking. I quickly looked back in front. With 2 guys driving me crazy now, I had no time to swoon over Si Won anymore; as hot as he may be.

I was up all night, thinking about Han Kyung, thinking about Jae Wook. Why did Jae Wook go to Japan? Was he gone for good? Then again, I didn’t care. I sent him away, and I should be relieved that he took my word and did as I asked. Then what do I do with Han Kyung? His father had never and will never approve of us. But if I lose him too, I’ll be left with no one.

Lunch time finally came. Hee Chul and Sung Min had to guide me to the cafeteria since I was still feeling blue, and I was actually feeling a little nauseous.

“Nuna…” Sung Min said. “Do you need to see the nurse?”

“She just needs to eat and take a long nap,” Hee Chul said, clucking like a mother hen.

“Why don’t you go home?” Sung Min suggested.

I shook my head in protest. Yong Min and Sang Hoon oppa have both gone on a day trip to Taiwan. There was no one at home, and I didn’t want to be alone.

“Just feed her some rice and let’s get back to class,” Hee Chul said.

“Are you okay?” I heard Si Won say.

I looked up and he was standing right in front of us in all his manly glory. If this were one week ago, I’d have just swoon and melted to the floor in a puddle. But today, I was too numb to care. I’m not even sure why I feel sick.

“I’m fine,” I smiled.

“You should really go home if you’re sick,” he said.

“We tried all morning,” Hee Chul complained.

Si Won looked at me for awhile, and he reached forward, taking my hand out of Hee Chul and Sung Min’s.

“I’ll take her home,” he said.

“I’m fine,” I protested and tried to get away from him.

“Kaja,” he said, and dragged me off before I could protest further.

What annoyed me was that Hee Chul and Sung Min just stood there and waved at me.

“Si Won!” I’d been protesting since we’d left the cafeteria. “I don’t want to go home.”

“Why?” he finally stopped walking and looked at me.

“I don’t want to be home alone!” I said.

He stared at me, as if I’d just said the weirdest thing he’d ever heard.

“Weren’t you always home alone?” he said.

“I don’t feel like it today,” I said.

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll stay with you for the afternoon.”

“What?” I managed to blurt out, and he started dragging me off again.

We reached the gates, and he sat me down on a bench, then whipped out his phone to call his driver.

He’d only just gotten through to his driver, when suddenly, a car stopped in front of us. 2 men jumped out and grabbed me.

Music: M - I'm Here

“Si Won!” I screamed.

He turned around, and ran forward to try and stop them. One of the guys punched him, and he fell backward onto the ground.

“Si Won!” I screamed. “Save me!”

“Sierra!” he shouted, and scrambled to get up, but it was too late.

The men pushed me into the car. Inside was another guy, who grabbed onto me while the other pushed himself in so that they sandwiched me between them.

“Who are you?” I screamed at them. “Let me go!”

“Shut up!” of the men said, and slapped me hard.

Tear sprang from my eyes from the stinging slap he gave me. I could feel the blood in my mouth, but I wasn’t going to cry like a girl in front of them.

The car lurched forward, and I could head Si Won shouting my name. I couldn’t look behind, but I could tell that he was chasing after the car. A few blocks later, I couldn’t hear him anymore.

[Han Kyung’s POV]

I’d just driven up in front of Sierra’s school. I received a tip that my father had ordered her to be brought to him. When I got there, I saw Choi Si Won walking towards the school gate, he had a black eye and bleeding nose.

“What happened?” I asked him.

“Some guys kidnapped Sierra,” he said, breathing heavily. “I couldn’t stop them.”

My father had struck, and I was too late.

“Check where they went,” I said to Ryeo Wook.

“Ne,” he said, and quickly went off to do my bidding.

“You know who did it?” Choi Si Won asked me.

“Yes,” I replied grimly.

“Hyung…” Ryeo Wook called to me, which meant he’d found out where they’d taken her.

“Let’s go,” I said, and we got back in the car.

If anything were to happen to Sierra, I’ll make my father pay…

[Sierra’s POV]

It was a long drive, and when they pushed me out of the car, we were in a warehouse. The car windows were so heavily tinted that I couldn’t see a thing outside all the way there. I could hear the horn of a ship blaring from a distance, and the place smelled fishy. We must be near the harbor.

“Who are you?” I shouted at the men around me as I tried to get to my feet.

They didn’t answer, and just then, the door opened.

“I told you to leave my son alone,” Ahn Sung Kyi said as he walked in.

“He came back for me. I didn’t go to him,” I replied as he walked up to me.

“You little tramp,” he said, and slapped me.

I fell over at the force of being hit. My head hurt, my face hurt, and now my butt hurt as well.

“I told you no good will come to you if you keep this up, didn’t I?” he said.

“What’s wrong with me?” I said. “Why am I not fit to be with Han Kyung?”

“You’re not the one,” he said simply.

“I never asked to be the one. He chose me, and I accepted,” I said, and I stood up again.

“Who are you to accept?” he asked me. “Without my approval, you’ll only be some woman in his bed. You’ll never be his bride.”

“What age do you live in, ajeosshi?” I laughed.

It wasn’t a funny situation, but hearing him talk about love and marriage like that sounded odd and hilarious.

“You’ll disrespect me, you whore!” he said and grabbed me by my hair as he swung his arm up to deliver another slap.

“Keumanhaera!” the door opened, and a familiar figure walked in.

Music: Black Beat - 날개 (Wing)

It was Jae Wook, and there were about 20 men walking behind him as he came in.

“Neo mwoya?” Ahn Sung Kyi said.

“Chairman Ahn,” Jae Wook said. “I didn’t think you’d hit women. Especially little girls.”

“Who are you, boy?” he asked Jae Wook again. “Do I need to ask again?” he added sarcastically.

“Kim Jae Wook,” Jae Wook said. “My other name would be Ihara Rui.”

“Ihara Rui?” Ahn Sung Kyi scoffed.

“Does the name, Ihara Tsuyoshi ring a bell?” Jae Wook continued.

“You’re the son of Ihara Tsuyoshi?” he said in disbelief.

He let go of me, and I fell to sit on the floor.

“Ne,” Jae Wook said.

“I never knew he had a son,” he smirked. “And why is this tramp your business?” he asked Jae Wook.

“She’s mine,” he said.

Jae Wook was calm and authoritative. I’d never seen him like this before. It was a side that was totally unknown to me. In my memory was the soft-spoken, romantic guy, who wore glasses. Now he stood before me, a totally different person.

“Yours?” Ahn Sung Kyi said.

“I believe there’s been a misunderstanding,” Jae Wook said.

“Really?” Ahn Sung Kyi laughed.

“I’ve come to take her back,” he added.

The two of them looked long and hard at each other. A lot of unspoken words were exchange, and as if Ahn Sung Kyi understood what Jae Wook wanted, he just brushed his jacket, and started walking out.

“Keep your woman away from my son,” he said, as he walked off.

“And please keep your son away from her,” Jae Wook added.

Ahn Sung Kyi snorted, but did not reply as he left the warehouse.

“Kwaench’ana?” Jae Wook said as he came to help me up.

He was wearing a slim black suit, and a skinny tie. His hair was pulled back in a half ponytail. I’d never seen him dressed like this, and it was quite attractive.

“What are you doing here?” I asked him “How did you know I was here? Who are these men? Why’s your name Ihara Rui?”

He looked intently at me as I fired my questions. When I was done, he just laughed softly.

“My birth name was Ihara Rui,” he said. “My mother changed it to Kim Jae Wook when we migrated back to Korea. My father is Ihara Tsuyoshi, a Japanese Yakuza leader. I guess the first few answers also answer your other questions.”

“Oh my god…” I said, my eyes widening.

“What? Why?” he asked, looking worried.

“Your father’s a gangster too?” I practically screamed at him.

Why did I keep attracting men like that?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chapter 23: To The Devil

“What are you doing here?” I asked Dong Hae.

“It’s about Jae Wook,” he said. “He’s gone to Japan.”

“I have nothing to do with Jae Wook. Why are you telling me this?”

“Aren’t you worried about him?” Dong Hae asked.

“Dong Hae…” I said sternly. “I’m dating Han Kyung. Not Jae Wook.”

“I’m pretty sure he went to Japan for you,” he said.

I planted my hands on my hips and glared at him. Dong Hae wasn’t really tall, which was a pity, since he was pretty cute. But I guess God ran out of materials when making Dong Hae, so all he got was a pretty face. Still, I wouldn’t be nice to him just for that. He may be a little taller than me, but when it came to presence, I beat him by a mile.

“I don’t care if he went to Japan for me, for a holiday or for good. Kim Jae Wook is no longer my concern,” I said. “If you’ll excuse me, my brothers are probably waiting for me,” I added, and turned my back on him to leave.

“But… Sierra…” he called after me, and I ignored him.

I got in, locked the door and ran up to the front door. I let myself in quickly, and was met with stares from my brothers.

Music: Park Hyo Shin - 흩어진 나날들

“Mwohae?” Sang Hoon oppa said.

They were both sitting cross-legged on the floor, papers strewn all over the place.

“Nothing…” I replied, and started walking towards the stairs.

“Come help us,” Yong Min oppa patted the empty spot on the floor beside him.

“What are these?” I asked as I sat down among the papers.

“Our old examination papers, test papers, and lecture notes,” Yong Min oppa replied.

“You’ve kept them all these years?” I exclaimed.

“You speak as if we’d graduated 10 years ago,” Sang Hoon oppa said.

“Didn’t you?” I said, and earned a smack on my back with the stack of papers he was holding.

“We’re not as lucky as you are, little princess,” Yong Min oppa smiled. “We had to start working for our father the moment we graduated, so we never got around to get these sorted.”

“You can’t blame me,” I said. “I’ve not even graduated.”

“Ne…” my brothers replied in unison.

“Why don’t you just let the staff help you?” I asked.

“They wouldn’t know what we’d like to keep,” Sang Hoon oppa replied. “And besides… I might have some old love letters hidden here.”

“Love letters?” Yong Min oppa scoffed.

“Ya! Girls have been writing me love letters since high school, and they still do now,” Sang Hoon oppa protested.

“Whatever…” we both answered in unison.

We sorted the papers, humming to a Park Hyo Shin CD playing on the sound system.

“So where were you?” Sang Hoon oppa asked.

“With Han Kyung,” I sighed. “Do you still need this?” I asked as I held up one of the papers.

“Trash,” Yong Min oppa replied. “I thought we agreed he was dangerous.”

“We forgot that he was also persistent,” I replied.

“So what are you doing about it?” Yong Min oppa asked.

“He’s gonna try to convince his father to let us be,” I said.

“And you think he’ll succeed?” Sang Hoon oppa asked, raising an eyebrow at me.

“I don’t know,” I replied.

“But you’re willing to trust him?” he added. “You still like him then.”

“I tried not to,” I said.

“Baby…” Yong Min oppa said, and put down his papers to put his arm around me. “You have to think rationally. What is this going to lead to?”

“I know, oppa… but what can I do? He keeps showing up, keeps following me around. He has no qualms of kidnapping me. What can I do?”

“Have you gotten rid of Jae Wook?” Sang Hoon oppa asked.

“He’s gone,” I said. “He tried to change my mind today, but I told him it was over, for real.”

“How did he take it?” Yong Min oppa asked.

“Dong Hae just dropped by,” I said. “He told me that Jae Wook went to Japan.”

“I guess you hit him pretty hard then,” Sang Hoon oppa said, and I just shrugged.

“Just be careful,” Yong Min oppa said. “We don’t know what Ahn Sung Kyi has planned. I hope that Han Kyung doesn’t try anything dumb. We may have some power, but if they do resort to dirty tricks, we’re still gonna fall.”

“Ne,” I replied.

[Han Kyung’s POV]

I got back to my apartment and found one of my father’s men stationed outside my door.

“Toryeonnim,” he bowed, and opened the door for me.

Music: Shinhwa – Vortex

“What is it, Chairman Ahn?” I said loudly, as I walked into my apartment.

“Do you think I’m senile, son?” my father asked.

He was sitting in one of my leather armchairs, which directly faced the front door.

“Only a doctor would know,” I replied.

“Your behavior towards Eunice was unsatisfactory,” he said. “I believe you owe her an apology.”

“I owe no one an apology. I hardly insulted the girl,” I said.

“The girl is your future wife,” he said.

“Really? I don’t remember the part where I agreed to marry her. I only agreed to show her around,” I said as I walked towards the bar to get myself a drink.

“Make me a Scotch,” he instructed.

I brought him his drink, and gulped down mine in a single mouthful.

“I’m going to bed,” I said.

“I know you’re still seeing that tramp,” he said.

“She’s your future daughter-in-law,” I said.

“She can be your lover for all I care, but Eunice will be your legal wife.”

“So that you can use her father?” I countered.

“He’s my business partner,” he said.

“You can also make Sierra’s father your business partner. Use his hotels to run your brothels,” I said sarcastically.

“You’re being childish, Han Kyung,” he said in a warning tone.

“You’re being a dictator,” I replied.

“You know what I can do to her if you don’t follow my plans,” he said.

“Don’t you dare!” I said through gritted teeth. “I’ll quit if you touch her.”

“You can’t live without my money, Han Kyung. I’ve made you accustomed to it,” he smirked.

“I didn’t live all my life with your money. I’ll survive,” I retorted.

“Do you have to be such an insolent child?” he said.

“Why is it so important to merge with this Lee guy?” I asked him.

“He will be a useful ally in our import and export businesses,” he said.

“You don’t have to marry his daughter for that,” I said. “Just threaten him like how you’re threatening me now, and he’ll probably just fall to his knees and do whatever you want.”

“Alliance by asserting my power won’t last forever,” he said. “Alliance through forging family ties will.”

“You’ll only be family by marriage. He can still turn on you anytime,” I pointed out.

“Yes… but he'll think twice since his daughter would be a part of our family. You’re supposed to be able to control her.”

“Ha…” I scoffed. “Tough luck. She’s not as simple as you think she is.”

“So I take it that you are up for the challenge then,” he said.

“Aniyo,” I replied. “I’m marrying Sierra. Eunice can be the concubine.”

“Han Kyung… haven’t you learnt from my mistake? Look what my wife has done to me.”

“Look what you’ve done to my mother,” I replied.

“You’re marrying Eunice!” he bellowed, finally losing his cool.

“I don’t need a loveless marriage like yours,” I shouted back at him.

I have never been afraid of my father. I’ve always felt he owed me my childhood, and he owed my mother her life. For that, I will never yield to him. I will only cooperate when it suits me.

“You’re not screwing up my plans!” he said, pointing a threatening finger at me.

“I’ve done everything you’ve ever wanted me to do,” I said. “Why can’t I even choose my own happiness?”

“Happiness will come with success. Marry Eunice, and you will have both.”

“You’re seriously deluded,” I laughed. “All those women have taught you nothing, eh?”

“I’m your father. I demand your respect,” he reminded me.

“Find another illegitimate son to make your puppet. I’m not marrying that brat,” I replied.

I strode into my room and slammed the door before he could say anything else. I stood there for a moment, in silence, and listened and he walked out of my apartment and closed the door.

As soon as I heard the door bang shut, the realization of what I’d done just hit me. In a fit of anger, I picked up the metal vase beside my bed and flung it to the far corner of my room, causing shelves of books to collapse onto the floor.

Music: Monday Kiz - 가슴으로 외쳐 (Feat. Rhymer)

I’ve just started the war. I’ve just put Sierra in danger.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Chapter 22: Sold My Soul

I touched down at Narita Airport at about 3am. I got into a taxi and showed the driver my father’s name card.

“You want to go here?” he asked me in Japanese. “But this is a business district. It would be deserted now.”

“I’ll wait,” I replied in the little Japanese I knew.

The years in Korea had made me a little rusty. What little Japanese I knew were from memories of my childhood. Jae Joong could hardly remember since he was even younger when we left Japan, but since he’d started taking it as an elective in school, it came back naturally. I didn’t bother to learn more. 1 week ago, I still hated my father and all things Japanese. Now I had to forgive him because I’m about to ask for a huge favor.

It was a tall office building; probably a huge illegal operation masquerading as a legitimate corporation. I sat on the granite edge of a raised flower bed. I had at least another 4 hours of waiting, and that is if he actually came to work on time.

I was sleeping soundly when I was rudely awakened. An old man, wearing the uniform of a security guard was yammering away at me in Japanese and pushing me off the granite. Took me a minute to figure out that he thought I was some homeless person spending the night in front of the building.

“I’m waiting for someone,” I said.

“Then wait inside. The lobby is open,” he said, pointing to the front door which was now open.

I looked at my watch. 9 am. I’d slept for more than 5 hours.

“Arigato,” I said and bowed, then started walking towards the door.

I stretched myself and straightened the collar of my jacket as I walked. Sleeping out in the open was definitely something I’m not doing again for a long, long time. I walked into the building, straight towards the reception counter.

“I’m here to see Ihara Tsuyoshi,” I said.

“Do you have an appointment?” the receptionist asked.

“No, but I’m his nephew,” I lied.

I didn’t need the whole building to know I’m his son even before I reunited with him.

“Your name?” she asked me.

“Kim Jae Wook,” I replied.

“Hold on,” she smirked at me, and picked up the phone.

About 30 seconds of whispering down the phone, she replaced the phone and addressed me with newfound politeness.

“Mr. Ihara will see you now,” she smiled.

“Thank you,” I said.

“Take the elevator up to the 21st floor,” she said, and I nodded.

The elevator doors opened on the 21st floor, and I’m greeted by another lady, whom I presumed was his secretary.

“Good morning,” she bowed. “Please follow me.”

I followed her down the corridor till we came to these large double doors and she knocked discreetly before pushing them open. Inside was an office 5 times the size of my apartment in Seoul. Right in the middle sat my father at a very large and ornate desk.

As soon as I walked in, she retreated and closed the doors.

“Son,” my father stood up and smoothened his suit as he walked towards me.

“Father,” I replied.

When he reached me, he enveloped me in a bear hug, as if we’d been this close all along.

“What brings you here, my son,” he asked when he pulled away.

My father spoke Korean fluently.

“I need your help,” I said plainly.

There is no point beating around the bush. The best thing to do was to tell him my dilemma exactly and let him decide if he was going to help me.

“This is a first,” he smiled. “Didn’t you tell me that you would never come to Japan, and that you didn’t need me?”

“The circumstances are beyond my control this time,” I replied.

“Come… sit down,” he motioned me towards a set of sofas.

As soon as we sat down, the secretary came back with 2 cups of coffee and placed them on the coffee table in front of us.

“You drink coffee, don’t you?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Have you eaten? When did you arrive?”

“I arrived last night. I’ve been waiting outside for you,” I said.

“Oh? I must have missed you on my way in,” he said.

“It’s alright,” I said.

“You must stay with me. I have lots of spare rooms,” he offered.

“I wouldn’t want to intrude on your family,” I replied.

“I have no family here. You and Jae Joong are my only family. That is why I’ve been asking you to join me here,” he said.

“My life is in Seoul,” I said. “And I need to take care of my mother.”

“She’s a wreck, and you know that. She can’t even support the both of you.”

“We’re grateful for you help all this time,” I said. “But I won’t leave her.”

“Then what are you doing here?” he asked me.

“I need your help. I will stay temporarily, and when my problem is solved, I will need to go back.”

“I guess there is no use persuading you now,” he smiled. “You’re exactly like your mother.”

“I am her son,” I replied.

“So tell me your troubles,” he said.

I took a sip of coffee as he watched me intently. Jae Joong and I looked nothing like our father. It was obvious that we took after our mother since both of us had feminine features. I’m sure there were countless of time he would’ve wondered if we were even his sons.

“There’s a girl I like,” I started.

“Ah… girl troubles,” he smiled.

“I am sure she likes me too. But there’s this guy who wouldn’t let her go,” I said.

“And that stopped you?” he asked.

“He’s not just anyone. Maybe you have heard of his father, Ahn Sung Ki.”

“You’re saying your rival is the son of Ahn Sung Ki?” he asked me.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Then you really have a strong rival,” he said.

“But the thing is, I don’t think Ahn Sung Ki approves of their relationship,” I said.

“Then this can be solved easily,” he smiled.

“But she must not get hurt,” I said.

“She must a very special girl, my future daughter-in-law,” he said.

“She is…”

“But you know me,” he said. “I’ll need something from you if you want my help.”

I knew he would proposition something, but I was ready to accept it since it was I who needed his help.

“Anything,” I said.

“All for love,” he shook his head and smiled indulgently.

“I believe you were once in my position,” I reminded him.

“Yes,” he replied. “I was once a fool as well.”

“What do you want from me?”

“You will work for me, for at least a year,” he said. “I will arrange for the girl to be brought here.”

“I don’t think that’s possible,” I said. “At least let us finish our final year of high school. Then I will come to Japan with her, and she can further her studies here.”

“You knew this would be my terms, didn’t you?” he laughed. “It’s nice to know that you understand your own father so well.”

“I am your son,” I replied.

“Fine… since we are in agreement. I will retrieve your girl, and you shall both join me here.”

“But as soon as the year is up, I’m free to go?” I asked.

“Yes, of course,” he said. “But I am certain you will stay.”

“We’ll see about that,” I said as I raised my cup of coffee to my lips.

“We’ll see,” he smiled.

“One more thing I need from you, father,” I said.


“I need your money now.”

“I thought you’d never ask,” he beamed at me.

[Sierra’s POV]

After some long overdue alone time, Han Kyung sent me home.

Music: TVXQ - どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう? (Why do I love you?)

“Don’t worry,” he said to me as he stroked my hair. “I’ll handle my father.”

“I don’t have a choice, do I?” I smiled.

“No,” he smiled back.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said as I pulled away.

“Naeil pwayo,” he replied, and blew me a kiss before turning away.

I laughed as I waved goodbye, and he drove off. As I was opening the gate to my house, I heard someone whisper my name.


I turned around, but didn’t see anyone around.

“Over here,” the voice called out.

I scanned the perimeter carefully, and spotted Dong Hae hiding behind a bush.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chapter 21: ... Let Her Go

[Jae Wook’s POV]

Music: 태양 - 나만 바라봐 (Tae Yang - Look At Me)

“How was the sundae? Wasn’t it heavenly?” the annoyingly perky waitress asked as she cleared the table. “Would you like some coffee while waiting for your girlfriend to come back?”

I looked up at her but decided not to say anything. I wasn’t sure if I could stop myself from attacking her in a fit of rage. She looked at me questioningly, then smiled.

“Just call if you need anything else,” she said, and walked away.

She probably sensed the vibe of hostility emanating from me.

I sat there for awhile, staring blankly. It has been such a short time since I started at Dae Sang High, and yet, it feels like I’ve been stuck in this limbo forever. I knew why Sierra had to choose Han Kyung, and yet, part of me still didn’t want to give up. It may not sound right, but it wasn’t just about having her anymore. My pride had been beaten down for as long as I could remember. So much that I am now contemplating to do something I’ve avoided for the last 10 years of my life.

Maybe it’s time to call on my father.

[Han Kyung’s POV]

Eunice practically jumped out of the car when we stopped outside her mansion.

“You’re not gonna give me a kiss before you go?” I teased.

“Kaseyo,” she said.

“Araso…” I winked at her, and closed the door.

As the car pulled away, I took out my phone and dialed Ryeo Wook’s number.

“Have you found them?”

“Hyung-su is with me,” he said. “We’re on our way back.”

“Send her to my apartment,” I said.

“Algaesseumnida,” he replied, and I hung up.

“Take me home,” I said to my driver, and he nodded.

Music: Clazziquai -금요일의 Blues

When I got there, she was laying face flat on my sofa, like she always did. This would be the first time she’d set foot into my new penthouse. In the past, she would hang out with me at my father’s house. My father spent most of his time at his office and spent his nights at the homes of his many mistresses. His wife spent most of her days going from monastery to another, claiming that she was praying to clear my father of his sins. When she wasn’t doing that, she would be at some spa retreat in Europe. My only companion, before I met Sierra, was my half-sister, Yoo In. Yoo In is a great sibling to have. She’s smart, adorable, and very talkative, but I needed a different kind of love. The kind of love I could get only from Sierra.

I sat down next to her. The sofa sank and she did not stir at all. I touched her hair lightly, then leaned down to kiss her on the top of her head. She continued to sleep. I smiled to myself as I got up and walked to my room. I could forgive her for anything; a feat which I still found to be unbelievable, coming from me. Before I met her, no one who crossed me would’ve lived. Since knowing her, I have refrained from participating in fights, and left all physical activity to my men. I only attended meetings and negotiations because I knew how much she worried when I attended fights.

I showered quickly and walked out to the living room again to see if she’d awakened. She was still asleep. I walked to the kitchen and took out 2 cups of ramyun from the cupboard and filled them with hot water. As I’d expected, she woke up to the smell of the ramyun.

“Slept well?” I asked her.

“When did you get back?” she asked as she got up in the most unladylike way, rubbing her eyes.

Sierra played the persona of an heiress to perfection. In public, she was always poised and perfect. At home, she was like any other girl; relaxed and casual. But of course, because of the habits instilled by her upbringing, no matter how unladylike she behaved, she still did it in a way that made her look graceful. I doubt Kim Jae Wook has seen this side of her. The side that was what made her attractive.

“Long enough to see that you’ve drooled on my new sofa,” I smiled and put down the 2 cups of ramyun on the coffee table in front of her.

“Mmm…” she said, her eyes fixed on the ramyun as she slid off the sofa to sit on the floor, totally ignoring my teasing.

“Here,” I said, shifting one of the cups so that it was right in front of her.

“I’m starving,” she said, and started digging in.

“That run must have exhausting,” I said, reminding her of what she did to me this afternoon.

She stopped slurping her noodles midway, looked at me, and smiled sheepishly before swallowing the mouthful. So she was going to use the cute card to get away with it this time.

“I came back,” she said sweetly.

“Aratda…” I sighed, and mussed her hair.

I picked up my cup, and we ate in silence for awhile. When she finished, she put the cup down and leaned back into the sofa.

“So what do we do now?” she said.

“What do you wanna do?” I asked her.

“I’m talking about your father,” she said. “How are you going to convince him?”

“I don’t know yet,” I replied.

“What do you mean you don’t know?” she asked. “You told me everything would be alright. Are you expecting to put my family at risk just so you could have what you want.”

“I won’t let anything happen to your family,” I assured her.

“You can promise me anything, but at the end of the day, it’s your father who will decide what he wants to do to you and to me.”

“He won’t touch you,” I said, taking her hand in mine.

“You have to come up with a plan, Han Kyung,” she said. “Otherwise, I shouldn’t even be here. We should just stay apart until you’ve handled the situation.”

“I need you,” I said. “I need you beside me while I do this. Can’t you just stay?”

“It’s too risky,” she said, and moved to stand up by the sofa. “I’d better go.”

“Kajima…” I said, tugging her arm gently.

“Han Kyung…” she sighed.

“Kajima…” I said, and hugged her around the waist.

She sighed and cupped my face with both her hands as she looked down at me.

“You’d better think of something, fast!” she said.

“Araso,” I smiled, and she tweaked my nose.

[Jae Wook’s POV]

“You’re still alive!” Dong Hae shouted as soon as he answered my phone call.

“Yes,” I replied. “I need your help.”

“Anything,” he said. “As long as I don’t need to kill somebody or get killed.”

“Get me an air ticket to Japan,” I said.

“Japan? Do you have a passport?”

“I do,” I said.

My family may be dirt poor, but my mother had insisted that Jae Joong and I renewed our passports every time they expired.

“For emergencies,” she said.

She must have known a day like this would come.

“When do you want to leave?” he asked me.

“Tonight,” I said.

“Araso,” he said. “Text me your passport number. I’ll call you as soon as I get your ticket.”

“Komawo,” I said.

“It’s fine,” he said, and hung up.

I flipped the worn and yellowed business card in my hand. I never thought I would have to use it so soon. I’ve always thought that I was able to take care of my family and myself, but I’ve suffered enough. It was time my father did something for me.

My father’s name is Ihara Tsuyoshi. He and my mother met 20 years ago when she was working in Japan and lived together for 6 years. They never married. When my mother’s work permit expired, they failed to get it renewed. By then, their relationship wasn’t as it was before, having met when they were in their early 20s and because of my mother’s gambling habits. She decided to return to Seoul and brought me and Jae Joong along. He did not stop her. He visited us briefly 5 years ago. He was now a prominent yakuza leader in Tokyo. He’d asked me to join him, but I refused. I didn’t want to leave Jae Joong and my mother back then. Jae Joong was too young and weak to join a gang, and without the both of us, my mother would probably rack up more gambling debts.

“Where are you going?” Jae Joong asked me when he came home and saw me stuffing some clothes into a rucksack.

“Class trip,” I lied.

“But I thought your class trip is next month,” he said.

“I’m just going on a trip with a few classmates,” I said.

“With Sierra nuna?” he teased.

“Yea,” I replied curtly.

It stung when he said that, but I told myself that she would soon be back on my side again.

“Asa!” he grabbed my shoulders and shook me. “You’ll be an official couple after this trip.”

“Yea,” I laughed softly.

I stuffed the last of the stuff I was taking along, checked that I had enough cash and my passport with me, then left my room.

“When will you be back?” Jae Joong asked me.

“Maybe a week,” I said.

“You’re allowed to be away from school for that long?” Jae Joong asked with a puzzled expression.

“Sierra and her friends sort of get special treatment. As long as I’m in their clique, it’s okay.”

“If you say so,” he said, still looking unconvinced.

“Take care of omma,” I said to him.

“Ne,” he replied.

I walked towards the front door and started putting on my shoes.

“Take care of yourself,” he popped his head out at the door as I was about to go down the stairs.

Music: 태양 - 나만 바라봐 (Tae Yang - Look At Me) ~ Continued

I just smiled, and went on my way. Dong Hae had sent a car to pick me up and send me to the airport. I hadn’t told him why I needed to go to Japan, and he understood enough not to ask. I guess I’d gained a friend when I least expected to.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chapter 20: If You Love Her...

[Sierra’s POV]

I ran… I ran as fast as I could as Jae Wook lead me down the street away from our school gates. I should’ve pulled away, I should’ve let him go, and went with Han Kyung, but my legs told me otherwise. We ran for 2 blocks, 3 blocks, 5 blocks down the road, and finally, he slowed down.

“Kwaench’ana?” he panted when we stopped.

I nodded wordlessly as I bent over, panting from the exercise.

After a few minutes, he took my hand again, and led me into an ice cream shop a few steps away.

“Osseo-oseyo!” the perky waitress greeted us as we walked in.

We were ushered to a cozy booth in a secluded corner. Jae Wook slid into the booth and pulled me down to sit beside him.

“We have a couple special today,” the waitress announced in her perky voice as she set down the menu in front of us. “Would you like to try that, or would you like something else?”

“We’ll have the special,” Jae Wook quickly said before she could continue.

“Okay,” she smiled, flashing her pearly whites at us. “Be right back.”

As soon as the waitress disappeared, Jae Wook turned to me, and grinned.

“Another minute, and I’d have stuffed a sock in her mouth,” he said.

I started giggling, and he started laughing. We stifled our laughter as the waitress approached again to set down our ‘couple sundae’.

“Anything else you would like?” she asked.

“No, thank you,” Jae Wook managed to say whilst holding back his laughter, and she bobbed her head before walking away.

Music: M - Sometimes

We laughed some more after she left, and then came to an abrupt silence. As bad as this may sound, this was one of the things Jae Wook and I shared… we had the same wavelength when it came to our thoughts. We realized that on many occasions, we were actually thinking about the same things, and at this moment, we were both thinking about Han Kyung.

Instead of talking about it, he chose the other way… evasion. He picked up the long dessert spoon and started digging into the sundae, as if he were starving.

“Jae Wook-ah,” I said softly.

“Try it,” he said and quickly held a spoonful of sundae in front of my lips.

I looked at him, and at the spoonful of melting ice cream in front of me. I decided I’d evade the topic with him just for now, and opened my mouth to allow him to feed me.

[Han Kyung’s POV]

“Find them,” I said to Ryeo Wook as I slammed my fist on the top of the car.

“Ye,” he bowed, and walked off to call up the boys to start searching for Sierra and Jae Wook.

I watched her run with him, down the street, away from me. I’d expected her to brush him off and come to me, but instead, she ran with him.

“Hyung,” one of my other boys came up with me with Hee Chul firmly grasped by his collar.

“Where did they go?” I asked him.

“How would I know?” Hee Chul replied.

“You know… I really don’t want to mess up your pretty face, so it would help if you told me now… where did that loser take Sierra to?” I asked again.

“I hardly know the guy. How would I know?” he said. “And you should know I’d give anything to make sure my face stays pretty,” he added for good measure.

I may not be able to tell if Sierra had been lying to me since I was blind to all her faults, but I was a good judge of character when it came to everyone else. I could tell that Hee Chul was telling the truth.

“If you see the 2 of them, that is, if my men actually fail to find them,” I said, “tell them that I’m not letting this one slide. You get me?”

Hee Chul nodded vigorously, and I signaled my men to let him go.

Music: M - AM 07:05

The scene replayed in my mind again and again. I should have moved before him. I should have known that Sierra would still be weak since we’ve just gotten back together. The idea of killing that vermin is burning in my mind at the moment, but I can’t. If I kill him, Sierra will never be able to forget him.

What surprised me was how determined he was. All the guys I’ve dealt with in the past gave up easily. This could only mean one thing; he was genuinely in love with Sierra, or perhaps the thought of marrying into her wealthy family is driving him. He’s poor, and his family is heavily in debt. It could be an all or nothing situation for him. Do I really have to kill him?

“Oppa…” a foreign female voice interrupted my thoughts.

I turned to my left and realized that Eunice was still in the car. My father had insisted that I take her along with me for the day and showed her the sights. I had planned for her to meet Sierra so that she could go back and tell her father that his plan for merger will fail, but instead, I lost Sierra.

“Do you mind if I take you home now? It’s been a rough day,” I said, politely.

“Sure,” she replied timidly. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” I said.

“Was that your girlfriend?” she asked.

Her voice was shaking as she asked me. I guess I’ve pretty much scared her with that entire gang business scene earlier. Maybe that would’ve changed her mind about us.

“Yea,” I said. “I’m sorry you had to see that.”

“It’s alright,” she said.

“You know it’s not going to work out,” I said.


“You and me…” I added.

“I don’t understand,” she said.

“Isn’t that why you’ve moved here? Your father is planning to marry you off, into my family.”

“He never mentioned it,” she said.

This was a surprise. So she really is an innocent. She didn’t even know that her father was planning to barter her off to secure his business. Now I feel sorry for her.

“Why do you think he’s sending you here for your studies?”

“My father is moving his offices to Seoul, my whole family is moving to Seoul,” she said.

“To be closer to your future in-laws,” I smirked. “If you don’t believe me, go home and ask your daddy.”

“You seem like a nice person, oppa,” Eunice said, “but why do you act like this?”

“Act like what?” I asked.

“Cold, and rude.”

“I’m sorry if I don’t meet your standards of politeness, but this is how we talk in a mob.”

“Mob?” she said, confused.

“My father heads a mob,” I said. “Don’t tell me you didn’t know that either?”

“You shouldn’t make such jokes about your father,” she said.

“I assure you I am not joking,” I said, looking at her straight on.

She looked at me for awhile, studying my expression, as if she could gain some sort of enlightenment from doing that.

“Please take me home,” she said.

“I’m already doing that,” I pointed out.

“Good,” she replied, and sat back, crossing her arms defensively.

So the rose had thorns too.

[Sierra’s POV]

We finished the sundae, and we’re now just sitting there, staring at the glass. I tried again…

“Jae Wook-ah,” I said.

“Please stay with me,” he said softly.

He wasn’t looking at me. He spoke the words as he fiddled with the dessert spoon in the glass.

“Jae Wook,” I pleaded softly.

“I can find a way out of this,” he said. “We can be together and nothing will happen to you, I promise you.”


“I can’t tell you now, but give me time, I’ll fix this for us?” he said.

He was now looking at me; his eyes pleading me to hang on and stick it out with him. I’m confused now. I have feelings for Jae Wook, and a life with him would be less complicated than a life with Han Kyung, but part of me was still attached to Han Kyung, and I find it hard to believe that we could get out of this situation unscathed. Maybe I should never have gotten together with Jae Wook.

“Do you know how crazy you sound now?” I said to him. “What could you possibly do to fix this? Han Kyung will have his way no matter what, and you’re going to suffer if you continue this fight.”

“I have the means to continue,” he said.

“You’re being so cryptic, Jae Wook,” I said. “What is it that you’re going to use against Han Kyung?”

“I can’t tell you now, but I promise to tell you once I have it. Just promise me, Sierra. Promise me that you won’t go back to him.”

“I can’t,” I said, as I got up slowly.

Music: M - One Last Cry

I had had enough of this madness. If he wasn’t thinking for himself, I will have to think for him, and for me.

“Kajima,” he said, holding onto my hand.

“Please…” I said, pulling my hand away as I stepped away from the booth, “just come to terms with our situation. I want us to both survive. I can’t bear it if anything should happen to you because of me. Please leave me alone, for your own sake.”

I turned and walked away, out of the shop. I could hear him call my name as I did, but I didn’t turn back. I couldn’t turn back anymore. Running off with him had been a big mistake today. From now on, no more mistakes… not if I want us all to survive.

I walked out of the shop and walked right into Ryeo Wook.

“Hyung-su,” he bowed.

“Take me to Han Kyung,” I said.

“Ne,” he bowed again.

“Leave Jae Wook here,” I said, looking him in the eye as I did. “Or I won’t come with you.”

“Ne,” he replied, and motioned for me to follow him.

“Let’s go,” he called out to the rest of the guys.

“But we have not found him,” one of them said.

“We’ve found hyung-su, let’s go,” he said.

The guys immediately gathered and they too bowed to me.

“Let’s go,” I said to Ryeo Wook.

I have never gotten used to this bowing and men being at my beck and call, but I suppose I will have to, since it’s been they’re way all this time. I still don’t know how things will end for me and Han Kyung, since his father obviously did not give us his blessings. I’m praying hard that Han Kyung has a plan.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Chapter 19: Can't Stay Away

[Sierra’s POV]

School was a drag today. I spent the whole day reminding myself not to turn around so that I didn’t have to look at Jae Wook’s face.

“You’re going to get stiff neck by the end of the day,” Hee Chul whispered to me when he realized what I was doing.

“I don’t want to look at him. His expression is killing me,” I whispered back.

“What expression?” he said and turned to look.

“Don’t!” I hissed at him and grabbed him by the shirt so that he wouldn’t turn.

“He’s not even looking at you,” Hee Chul smirked.

I took a quick peek and saw him staring intently at the textbook in front of him.

“He was, this morning…” I said.

“Well he isn’t now,” he said, but that didn’t put me at ease.

During lunch, instead of joining our group like he had been doing for the past week, he dragged Dong Hae off with him to a table far away from ours. Dong Hae looked pretty confused, but so did Sung Min and Shin Dong. I haven’t told them about the breakup yet. So they thought that we were having a fight or something.

“What’s going on?” Sung Min whispered to Hee Chul, thinking that I couldn’t hear him.

“Mind your own business,” Hee Chul said as he continued eating.

“Did they have a fight?” Shin Dong piped in.

“Ask Sierra,” Hee Chul said, loud enough for me to hear, and the 2 of them looked at me, willing me to put their curious minds to rest.

“I’ll tell you guys later,” I said. “I’m not in the mood today.”

As soon as the last bell rang, I packed up quickly and stood up, ready to bolt out of the classroom. In my hurry, I collided with Jae Wook; he was probably also thinking of the same thing.

Music: Loveholic – Leave Me

“Mian,” I mumbled, and quickly walked out ahead of him.

“Wait up,” Hee Chul called out and sprinted after me.

I walked as fast as I could until the school gates were in sight.

“You don’t have to run away from the poor guy,” Hee Chul said, trying to keep up with me.

“Han Kyung said he’d pick me up. I don’t want him to see me leaving with Han Kyung,” I said.

“Araso… araso…” he said and followed me quietly.

Hee Chul stood outside the school gates with me for a good half an hour. Han Kyung hadn’t shown up.

“Where’s lover boy?” Hee Chul asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied, and adjusted the straps of my backpack on my shoulders.

“Here…” Hee Chul said and took the backpack from me. “I’ll carry it,” he smiled.

“Thanks,” I said, and rubbed my tired shoulders.

“Why don’t you call him?” he asked.

“I don’t want to,” I said.

“You’re such a stubborn pig,” Hee Chul laughed. “Here you are, standing under the hot sun, waiting for the jerk, and yet you wouldn’t call him.”

“You know why…” I said, and exhaled sharply.

“Oh yea… that pride. Sierra Hwang should never have to call a guy for services. Men should beg to serve you,” he joked.

“You know this isn’t a good time to be lame…” I rolled my eyes at him.

“Ne… samonim…” he laughed.

“Where is he?” I muttered to myself as we continued to wait.

[Jae Wook’s POV]

Dong Hae and I were walking towards the school gates when suddenly he grabbed my arm and tugged me in another direction.

“What… Dong Hae… the school gate’s that way,” I said.

“Let’s take the side gate,” he said and continued to walk hurriedly.

He was being downright odd, so I decided to see if there was something he was pulling me away from. I turned my head, and saw Sierra and Hee Chul loitering at the gate. Shouldn’t she have gone home by now? I stopped walking, and just stood and watched as she and Hee Chul talked and paced about at the gates. Then I realized that she must be waiting for Han Kyung.

“Let’s go,” Dong Hae tugged at my arm.

I brushed Dong Hae off and started walking towards Sierra.

“Jae Wook… don’t do this,” he said as he followed me.

“Go home,” I said to him. “This is my business.”

“You’re going to get yourself killed,” he said.

I’d told Dong Hae the whole story while we were waiting in the classroom earlier.

“Mwo?” he practically screeched. “She dated Han Kyung? Are we talking about the same Han Kyung?”

“The one who punched me because of you,” I said.

“The god-son of the supreme jjang, Ahn Sung Ki?”

“One and the same,” I sighed.

“Dude… you could’ve died… for real,” he said, in a tone which could only be indentified as disbelief.

“What do you take me for? A dweeb?” I said. “I know I look and act like I’m the confused freshie. I only do that to be inconspicuous.”

“Inconspicuous?” Dong Hae snorted. “You date the queen-ka of the school within the first week and you think you’re being inconspicuous?”

“I planned to be, until I met Sierra, until I met you. You encouraged me,” I pointed out to him.

“Well… I didn’t know she had such a complicated background. I always thought that she was just being picky. I didn’t know that the reason she couldn’t date any guy for long was because of that psycho. I’m beginning to realise that Ee Teuk didn’t scare them off. Han Kyung must’ve been behind all of those failed relationships.”

“How many has she had?” I asked.

“Quite a few,” he contemplated. “They barely last a week, let alone a month.”

“So you’re saying me being dumped in the 2nd week was lucky.”

“Sort of,” he shrugged.

“I’m not letting go,” I said, and I turned to walk towards Sierra as I had initially planned.

Music: Buzz – 남자를 몰라 (You Don’t Know Men)

I strode towards Sierra and Hee Chul. As I approached, they looked up towards my direction. Hee Chul smiled a knowing smile, and Sierra tried to maintain the expressionless look she had been giving me the entire day.

“Can we talk?” I said as I stood in front of her.

“Umm… I’ll be just around the corner,” Hee Chul said and turned to walk away.

“Stay,” Sierra said as she reached out and grabbed him arm to pull him back.

“I need to talk to you, alone,” I emphasized.

“Hee Chul is practically family to me, he can hear whatever you have to say,” she said.

“Sierra, please…” I said.

“Talk to him,” Hee Chul said, and walked away before she could stop him again.

After Hee Chul walked off, she turned away from me, facing the road outside the school gates. It’s obvious that since I’ve not known her for long, I’m having a hard time reading her signals. As much as I’d like to believe that love made you more perceptive of the person you loved, it’s pretty much a myth.

“Sierra,” I said her name softly.

“I’ve said all I needed to,” she said to me. “What else have I not made clear to you?”

“You were very clear,” I said.

“Then why are you still here?” she demanded.

“To tell you that I’m not giving up,” I said.

She glared at me, and bit her lip gently, contemplating a suitable reply to me. Her final answer was a little unexpected.

“Jae Wook-ah… hajima…” she said softly.

“Wae hajima?” I asked her.

“I don’t want you to get hurt,” she said.

“I’m not afraid of getting hurt,” I said.

“What if you have to die for me?” she asked.

“I’m not going to die for you,” I said. “I will stay alive because I want to be with you.”

“It’s not going to work,” she said, shaking her head sadly.

“Sierra!” I pleaded as I grasped her shoulders with both my hands.

What did I have to do to make her see that this could work?

Just as I was about to say more, a black limo pulled up in front of the school gates. The passenger door swung open and out stepped Han Kyung, obviously fuming at the sight of the 2 of us standing together.

“Take your hands off her,” he said.

“No,” I said, and pulled her towards me, wrapping in arm around her.

“Let me go,” she said.

“You heard her,” Han Kyung said.

“No,” I replied.

“You’re really asking for it, aren’t you?” Han Kyung said.

“What are you gonna do? Kill me?” I mocked him.

“Let go of her,” he said.

“No,” I said.

I released her, only to grasp her arm in my hand, and I started running, dragging her along with me. I prayed hard before I did that. I prayed that she would run with me, and not pull me back and refuse to leave with me. My prayers were answered… she was running beside me, and I hoped that this meant that she was with me again.