10 | picking partners

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"light can be found in the darkest of places, so I've cast my salvation in the eyes of a brown-eyed girl.
~h.rj"

'That poetic fu-'
'Hyojin!'
'What? Boy is poetic as fu-'
'Stop!'
'Fine. Can I have the lollipop?'
'No it's mine.'

I unwrapped it and shoved it in my mouth before smiling and humming, trying to tease Hyojin.

'Shut up and let's go, I heard we're doing a history project.' Hyojin tugged my arm before dragging me to our first class.

'Lets be partners then, I don't want to be stuck with Haechan or something.' I rolled my eyes and laughed.

'Sorry I kinda already agreed to be partners with Chenle...' she ducked her head and looked at me shyly.

'You bitch! You know I have no friends but you. Chenle has loads of friends he can choose.'

'Yeah but Mark and Haechan will partner up, Jeno and Jaemin will too. So that leaves Renjun and Jisung who won't partner with each other because Renjun always tries to choke Jisung. You can pick either of them or someone else.' She shrugged, unbothered.

I hummed in response.
'What's the project even on?' I ask.
'History..'
'I know that you dumb fu-'

'The history of Seoul or something. You have to go and look at all these places with your partner and find out the history of the places and places that are interesting.'

'You mean I actually have to do something other than type out a huge essay thing? I have to move?' I drew the lollipop from my mouth and said that last word with exaggerated disgust to emphasise how much I didn't want to do this.

'Yeah that's why me and Chenle are partnering up; so it'll give us more time to spend together!' She beamed with delight.

'I wish the teacher would pick the partners just so I can laugh at you.'
'I'll laugh at you because either way you'll end up with someone you don't want, the teacher knows we're best friends and will one hundred percent not partner us up.'

She smiled and I scoffed, putting the lollipop back in, before turning away.

'Now hopefully Renjun will pick you...' she said under her breath, barely audible but loud enough that I could hear.

I looked at her weirdly but she only smiled.

Hyojin, why are we friends?

We sat in the history classroom, waiting for our teacher to finish explaining what we were to do for the project.

I eyed Hyojin who was pointing and eyeing Chenle who pointed back at her with a smug look on his face. They were so weird..

I was distracting myself from his speech by twirling the lollipop in my fingers.

The teacher had almost finished explaining the project to us and was at the part where he tells us the due date, when Renjun came stumbling through the door, dropping one of the many books he didn't have time to put in his bag and then, in picking up the book he had dropped, upset all the other books causing everything to fall to the ground in a pile.

This is followed by laughter because we're in high school, which means we're predictable and almost anything is funny, especially if it's someone else's public humiliation.

He turns bright red and has a look of "please, earth, swallow me whole".

I know exactly how he feels and because of this and the fact he looks like he's about to cry, I drop one of my own books on the floor which draws attention away from him and all eyes turn to me, followed by a few sniggers.

I look up and smiled shyly at him and he looked back with a look of relief.

The teacher continues to explain to Renjun what he has missed as he gathers his books up and proceeds to tell us about the projects worth.

'This project is worth forty percent of your overall grade so I expect you to put some effort into it.'

Hyojin raises her hand from across the room and looks at me.

'Can we choose our partners?'
'Yes. I was about to say that. You may choose them now and sit beside them.'

She beams as all of the students scrape back their chairs and rush over to their friends.

I remain seated as all around me students pair up and sit beside one other, waiting for someone to come over to me or for one person to be left.

Chung Ae approaches me and stands over my desk.
'Zhi Ruo how about you and me be partners and we can do more than just explore Seoul.' He winks.

Chung Ae is popular to say the least and why he would pick me I don't know. He is tall, dark and handsome but he's such a fuckboy and his personality isn't as great as his looks.

I avoid his hungry gaze and look around the class, making eye contact with Renjun, who is still standing at the front of the class, looking for a partner.

I look away and hesitate to answer Chung Ae, but Renjun joins us.

'Zhi Ruo, if it's okay, do you maybe want to be my partner?' He fidgets with his fingers as Chung Ae scoffs at the other boys offer.

I don't hesitate to answer him.
'Yeah sure, Renjun.' I smile at him and drop the face as I look at Chung Ae, take the lollipop from my mouth and raise an eyebrow so to say "what are you gonna do about it?" as he turns and walks over to another single person.

Renjun sits down beside me and starts putting the books he dropped into his bag as someone walks past and shoved him. I look up to check who had pushed him, to see Haechan smiling at Renjun.

I look over at Chenle and Hyojin who are smiling over at us, which I find weird.

I shake my head, put the blue lollipop back in my mouth and face the front as the teacher proceeds to suggest different places we can visit.

'Thanks for that earlier.' Renjun whispers from beside me. 'Can I ask you something?'

'Yeah sure.' I look over at him as he keeps his gaze forward.
'Where did you get that?' He points at the lollipop, his head still forward.

'In my locker along with this note.' I take the paper from my pocket and slide it over to him.

'Oh... what do you think?'
'It's cute, the whole thing is cute.' I shrug and smile at the thought. 'I just wish I knew who they were from..'

'Yeah, well he seems like a cool guy.' Renjun slides the note back and I put it back in my pocket.
'Yeah. Yeah, he does.' I nod.

'Oh Zhi Ruo when will you realise?' I hear him say under his breath.

'What?'
'I said you have nice brown eyes.' He whispers, his face turning beet red.

"...I've cast my salvation in the eyes of a brown-eyed girl..."

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