Disclaimer: How in the world are you still under the impression that I own Playful Kiss? I do NOT! Nor do I own Baek Seung Jo!
A/N: 안녕하세요! 저는 제시까 임니다. (Annyeonghaseyo! Jeoneun Jessica imnida!)
So how are all you guys? I know it's been far too long. When I first uploaded this story, I was updating every two days or less. Sometimes multiple times per day. And now I update pretty randomly. I'm sorry about that, guys. I know you like reading and I know you look forward to new stories. I thought I would update more in the summer, but I think I'm busier now than I was during the school year! And to those of you who have been wondering recently when I'll update, I'm sorry. I was out of the country for a month and didn't have any long enough blocks of time to sit down and write. I'll get onto the story now, and I'll blab more at the end of the chapter. :)
Episode 5: God and Typhoons
"Seung Jo," Mother calls from the kitchen. I'm in the living room with Eun Jo playing a game. "Can you come set the table?" she asks sweetly. I roll my eyes and tell Eun Jo to clean up the game while I help mother. Grabbing the plates from the cabinet, I smell the food mother cooked, and it smells delicious. "Do you want to try a bite?" she asks me. I nod and give her a smile. She holds up a fork and I swallow a bite of the piping hot dish.
"It's delicious," I tell her as I carry the dishes to the table. Laying everything out takes less time than we imagined. Eun Jo went upstairs to tell father that dinner is ready, so that leaves me alone with mother. She seems to recognize that this situation doesn't occur often, and she wants to take advantage of it.
She leans against a counter while I start pouring myself a glass of water. "Seung Jo," she calls. "Where were you today?" She looks up from the cup of tea in her hands with a small, sad look on her face. "Ha Ni went for her interview at Parang University, and you weren't here to see her off. Where did you go?"
I can tell she really did want me to be there. I don't know if I should tell her. She'll just make a huge deal out of it. She'll think that it's some sort of important milestone or something. I decide to play it off. "I just went off to think." Her eyes about bug out of her head.
"Seung Jo. There was a typhoon outside! Where in the world did you go 'to think?'" She looks at me for an answer. Where in the world is Eun Jo and father? Shouldn't they be down here by now? At least that would give me a reason to avoid answering. Sadly, though, I'm not so lucky.
I think quickly for an answer that sounds plausible. "I went to school," I say, hoping she'll buy it. "I went to the library there to get some information about a few different schools." I'm slightly nervous inside, but it doesn't show. It never does.
She tries looking down her nose at me for a moment, but the result is pretty comical considering the fact that she has to look up at me because she's so short. She ends up craning her head back a little, and I can see the bottom of her nose pointed right at me. I try to choke back a laugh, and I'm mostly successful until I hear Eun Jo. "Mom, what are you doing?" That just about broke me. I don't bust out into the loud guffaw that was bubbling up my throat, but I do end up snickering just a little bit.
Following Eun Jo is father, who gives his wife a look of amusement as he walks to the table. Mother decides that she's made enough of a fool of herself, and shakes the look off her face. Oh Ki Dong walks into the dining room right then and smiles at mother. "It smells wonderful! Where's Ha Ni?"
That seems to alert my mother to Oh Ha Ni's absence. She turns to me. Oh great. I can already see what's coming. "Seung Jo, can you go get Ha Ni from upstairs? I guess she didn't hear Eun Jo." I mentally groan as I scoot my chair back. I just knew it. Why is it that I'm always responsible for her? I swear, she needs more supervision than a child.
I make my way across the living room and up the stairs. As I walk towards Ha Ni's door, though, I hear something coming from the bathroom. It sounds like hiccups and something else. I change my course to lead me towards the sound. I pad across the floor, trying not to make too much noise. I want to figure out what in the world Oh Ha Ni is doing in there before she knows I'm here. The closer I get, the more distinct the sounds get. I can hear water running, probably in the sink since it doesn't sound like the shower or the tub. Every so often, there's also a little scratchy sound, sort of like sniffling. But there's one sound that hits me hard. I stop in my tracks when I hear it. It's her voice. "Why?" it asks. She doesn't sound happy at all. It seems like those hiccups and sniffles were her crying. Oh no. I start to panic. I don't want her to know I heard her. I quickly tiptoe back to the top of the stairs and double back, this time with heavy, loud footsteps that she just has to hear.
It works. I hear her stop the crying and shut the water off. Before I can even get to the door, she opens it and pretends to be surprised to see me. Her face is puffy, but she doesn't seem to be as sad as she sounded. "Oh, Seung Jo. Is dinner ready? I'm starving." She brushes right past me and makes her way down the steps. Wow. If I hadn't heard her crying just a minute ago, I don't think I would've thought anything was wrong.
I follow her downstairs and sit down at the same time as her. Everyone else has started eating already, so Ha Ni and I grab our chopsticks and start chowing down. There's an odd silence around the table, and Ha Ni and I both look up at the others. Mother is staring at Ha Ni pretty intensely. I think in that moment that she might actually think she has mind-reading, laser eyes that can see what Oh Ha Ni is thinking. Good luck with that, mother. Ha Ni seems to realize finally that everyone is waiting for an answer. Did it go well?
She sticks her rice spoon in her mouth and huffily shakes her head. Her eyebrows droop down, and her head hangs dangerously low, the perfect picture of melancholy.
"Hyung." The voice floats through the dark across the room and settles in my ear. I thought Eun Jo was asleep, but apparently not. "Where were you today?" he asks. I could pretend to be asleep. He can't see my face, and I'm a decent enough actor. He wouldn't know. But I can't do that. This isn't mother. It's Eun Jo. The person I trust more than anything. I sigh and turn towards him.
Looking at his face, I can tell that he is just wondering. He doesn't think there's anything important about the question. That harmless little question is really quite deceptive. That question of his carries a whole slew of other questions that I don't know the answer to. Not yet, anyway. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
He cocks his head to one side as he props himself up on his elbow. "What do you mean?"
I take a deep breath before I begin. I'm actually not even sure how I'm going to explain this, but something is bound to come out. "Eun Jo, have you ever done something or wanted something and you don't know why?"
"Like what?" he asks. His face is curious and rather innocent if I look at it too hard. He's still young, and I can't be sure that he'll understand everything yet. But I figure he's old enough to try.
"I'll tell you where I was today, but you can't tell anyone, okay?" He nods. He understands. "I went to church today."
He looks confused. "But we don't go to church. We're not religious." He's sitting up now and leaning against the wall. I can tell he's pretty interested now. "Is that what you mean? You don't know why you went to church?"
"Kind of," I say hesitantly. "Not quite. It's just that-" I stop myself. This is one of the very few times in my life that I've been tongue-tied. I can't figure out how to put this feeling into words without sounding weird. I can't have Eun Jo getting the wrong idea. "I mean, I went to-"
One of his eyebrows is up in the air, while the other is pushing down so hard that it looks like he's about to close his eye. That is a look of severe confusion that I think may be unique to my little brother. I can imagine that seeing me like this is throwing him off. I can always talk to him about anything. But it seems like I'm-what's the word? Afraid? It sends a chill down my spine to think that's the right word. The second chill comes from what I'm afraid of. I'm scared that my little brother is going to judge me, and judge me correctly at that.
I sigh, and realize that no matter how I word it, or what I say to justify it, it is unavoidable that Eun Jo will think what he wants to. I have nothing to lose as long as he swears he won't tell anyone, so I guess it's time to just come out with it.
"I went to church to send a prayer that Ha Ni gets into the university."
His eyebrows nearly fly off his face when he hears that. There are a few moments of silence while he digests this bit of news. "Did . . . did I hear that right?" he asks quizzically. I nod slightly. "Hyung. Why?" He looks sincerely curious, but the truth is that I don't know why.
I give him a half-shrug. "I honestly don't know. Something just kind of pulled me into the church. But, Eun Jo, this never leaves this room. Are we clear?" He nods again, but it takes him a second, as if he's not sure if he should trust me anymore. I'm not surprised. I feel like I'm going crazy, so I can only imagine how I look to my little brother, the one who knows me best.
He lays back down and fluffs his pillow before putting his head down on the pillow. The conversation is over.
A/N: Please don't kill me! I know this is short, and I'm sorry I've taken so long, but you guys honestly have no idea how long it took me to write just this tiny chapter. My summer was busier than my school year, so I never got time to write. And even when I did get a chunk of time here and there, I would sit down, and only be able to get a freaking paragraph out! I swear to you guys, I have been trying to write this chapter for four months. I was not simply lollygagging around. Promise! But, there was most of July where I was, well, in Germany. And I'm sorry, as much as I love you guys, I still do have a life to live, and I was not going to blow off my host family to go write.
Anyway, I appreciate those of you who are still reading, and I would like to take this opportunity to say that I read every review and if you guys want to chat and see how I'm doing, or see what's up, feel free to message me! I love talking to you guys! Even if I don't have the time to write, I still check everything on this site periodically, so I will get back to you soon even if I'm on hiatus. Well, this A/N has been long enough. I love you guys for staying with me! Don't forget to leave a review! You know you missed me, so tell me how much! :D