A Little Piece of You: Chapter 1
A New Friendship Circle (+Intro)
Authornim: I've been pondering for weeks what else i should post in this blog of mine. Stories haven't been going around that much, especially my one shots because I figured I want to finish the two ongoing ones first before posting them here. I decided to finally post this ongoing series of mine, despite doubts of the nature of its content to be fitting for the site.
I caved in in the end because I want to expand the audience reach for it.
That said, this would be a mature, heavily plot-driven story with idols serving as actors and actresses, not limited to one particular girl and even boy group. If you like a long series to read on your spare time, then I hope that you would enjoy this story too.
I would update this regularly and it would take time for it to catch up on my updates on Wattpad. You can check it there if you like.
Book cover art done by: @usedpidemo
Yoon Jae-In has always been the type of person who was fascinated among a lot of things, yet there was nothing better than when two of those things come together in utmost harmony. Sitting along in rooftops were already one thing that separates him from the real world while embracing the silence and the peace of the stillness he has with himself. The other one was arguably the cold, twilight-lid atmosphere of the approaching evening; for him, the skies that are lined with the lazy hue of the transitioning orange and indigo incited calmness inside him. Now, as he sat at the rooftop of the newly renovated Penthouse of Seoul’s own City Skylight Hotel, having the privilege to experience both of the phenomena at the same time felt too good to be true.
It has been a long time since he had the chance to do it again.
Jae-In could not even recall how long he has been staying there as the humble company of his hand phone was more than enough to keep him occupied. A couple of scribbles here and there was perhaps the sole thing to blame for the absence of boredom, and above all the soothing company as well as nostalgia of the place getting the best of him as he sat on the leather-bound seats of the said Penthouse.
For a while now, he has been alone; merely seated at the ledge of the establishment admiring the beauty of the late-afternoon sky. It was until the unexpected appearance of his two college friends, Doh Kyungsoo and Kim Hyojong, prompted himself to rid his lonely, waiting demeanour and welcome the company of his two friends.
“It’s been a while Jae-In,” Kim Hyojong remarked as he moved to provide space for Kyungsoo. “I certainly was not expecting to see you in a place like this. You’re honestly the least likely person among us that would actually show up here.”
Jae-In smiled at him. “Don’t worry, Dawn, believe me; I really was not expecting myself to show up here as well.”
“Hey,” interrupted Kyungsoo. “Don’t tell me that you’ve gotten around us having to convince you just to head here on the weekend. You used to be the number one person who took a lot of convincing just to go here. Oh and by the way, this fellow beside me is now actually called Hyojong now. It took him a while to rid of his ‘Dawn’ name until his boss mistook him for a lady.”
“Is that so, Hyojong-ah? You’re dropping the ‘Dawn’ thing after all these years?”
“Well, as long as I’m not in suits and ties, I can still use it. Who cares what they know about it? I’ll still be ‘Dawn’ no matter what happens, Jae-In,” Hyojong quipped and it earned an earnest laugh amongst the three of them.
“Of course you’d say that… anyway, you two know that I’ll have to address the elephant in the room. As much as I’m really impressed with the coincidence of our meeting, I’d like to know what actually caused the two of you to show up here on the penthouse. Was this something that you two planned?”
“It actually wasn’t,” replied Kyungsoo. “Well, you know how it is these days. It’s just me and Hyojong here that’s getting in touch after we all graduated. You’re busy with your own thing, Jae-In; Shinwon’s off to the Philippines for a vacation with his girlfriend, Yeri and Hongseok… of course they’re busy. I really can’t invite anyone else for a weekend drink aside from Hyojong here. Even Soyeon’s surprisingly out of reach.”
“That’s unfortunate, if you think about it. Even Shinwon and Kino are having something to do with their lives and yet here I am stuck with Kyungsoo drinking weekend beers here and there,” Hyojong teased.
“Hey, it’s not like I chose to get stuck with you too, man! I’m just happy to be with even just a fraction of our friendship circle. At least you have me to call around whenever you’re lonely.”
“Fine, fine; it’s just a joke after all. Hey, how about you Jae-In? You still haven’t told us why you’re Skylight-ing under our noses, you know. Care to give us a well-earned explanation?”
“Oh yeah that’s right; is there something going on? Are we holding you, perhaps, on a potential date?”
A period of silence ensued amidst the three young men with Kyungsoo and Hyojong merely earning a sly grin from Jae-In. Had he not broken the silence a couple of seconds later, the two would have continued to wait in anticipation or perhaps tease him until he manages to speak himself out.
“Yeah… that… Am I still allowed to not speak about it?”
“Ah yes, there he goes again,” teased Hyojong. “Apparently, not even working life could loosen up his tongue about his relationship. Nothing has changed.”
“No, Dawn-ah; I just… I figured it might be too complicated to explain given I’m not really sure how much time we have left.”
“You better stop stalling then,” Kyungsoo added amidst his talking. “Even I am surprised to see you here so out of the blue and I’m definitely curious as to how you ended up in a place like this. You sure are not planning to drink here alone now, are you?”
“No, I don’t think I will. I’ve had way too much of experience of that in this place. Having a cup of tea is a good change of pace. God, it’s so nostalgic; how long has it been since we’ve been here, two years?”
Hyojong smiled as he leaned and rested his back on the leather backrest. “Oh you have no idea, Jae-In; it’s been three years since we’ve last been together. I think it’s two that we’ve last seen each other complete. Even I lost track of time already.”
“Exactly,” continued Kyungsoo. “You still haven’t told us the complete story, Jae-In. Something that was left on our imagination all these years and we’ve brought back here in this place with you… I guess that’s a sign that we deserve to know what really happened, right? You’re back here already, and I take that you’ve done it because the memories of the place already subsided in your mind.”
“I guess so. It’s been a long time already. I don’t think that there’s any real point to not move on.”
“So, I’ll ask this boldly now; how are you and Ningning? Are you two happy?”
Jae-In fell silent amidst Kyungsoo’s question, as it alone surged a ton of questions he never really thought of thinking until that moment.
Of course, he’s going to ask that… it’s been a while since I ever got asked that question…
Has it really been that long?
---THREE YEARS EARLIER---
The deep orange remnants of the twilight sun-lit sky spiralled amidst the purple-indigo-clad skies as it overlooked a humble university. North Line International University, located not far from the main urban jungle of South Korea that was Seoul, was this multi-establishment complex placed on a rather elevated terrain, and inside one if its rooms, clearly lost interest in his Social Sciences class, sat a young engineering student named Yoon Jae-In.
Yoon Jae-In was not always the person who would skimp in any kind of class as he personally disliked the idea of not attending; even if the class would bring out his absolute disinterest in. Social Sciences was one of those subjects that he would not really mind sitting throughout but if it was not for the over-all monotonous tone of his teacher, he would definitely not have his mind placed somewhere else.
Slowly, using the small volume of his pencil case as his cover, Jae-In carefully raised the screen of his smart phone just as his professor began to write on the board. Then, with one flick of his hand, he immediately opened the messaging app and in turn the group chat he recently got added in. There was still that aura of caution he had from within considering it was his first new set of friends ever since entering university two years prior, and of course he definitely did not want to screw it up no matter how kind they seemed to him.
His high school friend, Doh Kyungsoo, served as the de facto carry of the conversation as it was his idea to introduce everyone to each other in the first place.
Doh Kyungsoo: @everyone hey, what’s up? Are you all still in your classes? Please message here in case you’re done so that we could just head off together. I’m sure some of you don’t even know where Skylight is so it’s better if we’re to head together.
Of course, as perhaps a tradition to ever new friendship circle Kyungsoo has been in, it was inevitable for the first meet to happen regardless of when they’d do it. Jae-In never really got the chance to get out of his academic shell as he is often pigeonholed on his practices when he was still in high school, which is why the new friendship circle was a mixed bag even for him.
It was easy to not go and excuse himself for the better, yet a part of him also wanted to figure out what these people were. After all, they seemed to be nice people and it would be such a huge disservice to Kyungsoo who unintentionally created everything with the best intentions for everyone. He had met a couple of them when they had a small lunch together, but of course there was more to know than just a mere lunch out with people.
This is exactly why he also wanted to go to Skylight despite him not really having enough experiences on such places.
Jae-In had finally gotten his act together and was about to reply to Kyungsoo when his message was interrupted with a message from one of the new people he met, a very vocal and free-spirited woman who was known as Jeon Soyeon.
Soyeon: I’ll be there shortly! I’m just doing a couple of last-minute errands but I’ll be there I promise!
Jeon Soyeon, from what Jae-In could make up from the brief lunch out he had with her previously, was a very loud, charismatic woman who was not really that hard to be close with. To him, she seemed to be the type of person who would engage on a conversation first before anyone else and true enough, with what he had experience being in the same messaging group as she did, was really happy-go-lucky. Soyeon was actually the first person, at least among his new friends that went off of his way and talk to Jae-In first; an act he viewed as something he could not do himself. It was just a short interaction but thanks to it, he felt most comfortable with such a strong presence such as her.
Then, following Soyeon’s announcement, was one of Jae-In’s familiar friends from High School who’s presence were once again announced by the person he’d say would be his closest friend thus far, Kim Hyojong, or as he would like to call himself, Dawn.
Dawn: Sorry, but I don’t think that I’d be able to join you tonight. I have some stuff I got to sort out tonight.
Kyungsoo: That’s unfortunate. You can’t postpone it any time soon?
Dawn: I can’t, man; I’m sorry. I’ll make sure to catch you all on the next one.
Kyungsoo: No worries; how about the others? Where are all of you?
With that, Jae-In elected to reply.
Jae-In: Give me five minutes. This class is about over.
It would seem to Jae-In that his brief update about his whereabouts would be drowned by the subsequent messages of his two other high school friends, Ko Shin Won and Kang Hyung-gu; the dynamic duo often regarded by Kyungsoo as ‘Dumb and Dumber’, finally told the group where they were. Hyung-gu, who was often called by his friends as ‘Kino’, messaged in behalf of them both for the time-being.
Kino: We’re heading at the Uni’s gate and of course I’m with Shinwon. We’re meeting you in about five minutes depending on how fast this dude walks.
Kino: Oh and also, he wants me to say that he’s invited someone. He did not quite clarify if this person’s a ‘she’ but we’ll see.
Kyungsoo: I’ll be waiting for the rest of you. Hongseok told me that he’d be here in a minute, too, so I guess it’ll just be a matter of time.
Hongseok, on the other hand, was this person of whom Jae-In would think he would require extra effort understanding. Not only that their personalities and interests being absolute opposites, but also he was a very loud and proud person; someone who has a strong personality. At first impressions, it was easy to contrast him to be the male version of Soyeon, if only he was a bit timid on certain times compared to her who was pretty much happy-go-lucky all the time.
But of course, despite the ensuing chaos of the rest of the group’s bickering about Dumb and Dumber, Jae-In’s head was occupied somewhere else. While it was true that he had to exercise extra caution considering his professor had started to walk around as the lecture began to near its conclusion, he could still sneak a couple of glances towards his phone here and there. The messaging group continued to thrive for what felt like minutes, but there was one small detail that Jae-In could simply not ignore amidst all that…
There was one portrait of a chat member that was able to see the messages yet elected to not reply.
She has seen every single one of it since the very beginning.
Even with the lunch out, she was absent from showing up which only made Jae-In’s impression of her to still be remained in mystery.
He knows her full name was Ning Yizhou and her friends call her Ningning, but outside of that…
How is she like when she’s not in the messaging group and is in person?
I’ll have to thank whoever decided to put NLIU right smack in the middle of South Korea’s central business district that I no longer have to worry about travelling longer distances whenever I need to head off someplace. While it is true that the extreme privilege would instantly equate to a more expensive cost of living, for the most part it’s really not that noticeable.
That was pretty much the reason why almost every college student applying for university end up here. That’s also the reason why it’s such a chore to weave through mobs of students every after class. This one in particular, was perhaps the most engaging one yet. Having to walk almost an entire campus-length of people before getting to the main gate was really tiring, especially when everything else is mixed with students heading off of their classes as well as students waiting to enter their next respective classes.
After a couple of minutes, I managed to wade through an entire campus worth of people and successfully made my way towards the main gate of the university. As expected, the figures of Kyungsoo, Shinwon, Kino, and Hongseok were there with Hongseok clearly occupied on a phone call. The three other figures were absorbed in a deep and interesting conversation, and I could say that much considering no one really noticed that I was approaching them from the gate’s exit.
The university’s main gate was this wide, roofed section extending downwards a long and extended flight of stairs stretching towards the main façade where students and bystanders spend their time overlooking the street ahead. Of course, at this time of the day with the afternoon being the most common point of dismissal for majority of the students, it was self-explanatory why it would be flooded with a flock of students to and fro.
“…and I thought that I was ready to ping on the enemy but when I switched my weapon out, I realized I haven’t even reloaded it yet,” I heard Kino’s voice as I approached the three of them. “I was panicking so hard that I switched to knifing and attempted to melee him instead. I guess we can all know what happened afterwards.”
“Jae-In-ssi, hey,” greeted Shinwon.
“Yo; you guys played before you got here?”
“Yeah, it’s a shame you weren’t there. A lot of crazy stuff happened back there,” said Kino towards me, earning a nod of agreement from Shinwon.
“I’ll get there next time. What’s up with him?” I asked, gesturing towards Hongseok who was nodding on the phone.
“He says it’s his mother,” informed Kyungsoo. “We all know that it’s not convincing, but he really sounds so sincere so I guess it’s really his mother.”
As if it was perfectly timed, Hongseok nodded towards the phone and proceeded to hang the call up. Then, with a smile, he approached the four of us flipping his hand on his phone with a clear expression of pride on his face.
“How did it go? Did they say ‘yes’ to you?” inquired Shinwon. “Did your… mother… approve of this night out?”
“As a matter of fact, she did,” he replied nonchalant. “I managed to take her into me spending the night with you, granted it was a Saturday anyway so it’s not really that hard to get myself around on.”
“Really now… if it’s that easy, how come you seem so occupied since we arrived here then…? Is it really your mother?” teased Kino.
“Why are you so fucking nosy? Of course it is my mother, who else would it be?”
“I don’t know… maybe someone who’s probably our age and would actually pique our interest for this evening… I’m just saying… it’s an option.”
“Hey, hey” interrupted Kyungsoo as we both raised heads from reading messages on the group. “Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here, now, okay? Ning and Soyeon are still not here. Neither of them is replying to me and Ning’s especially nowhere to be found.”
“Didn’t she see the messages that we’ve been sending to the messaging group?” asked Kino. “I’m sure even if we’re merely talking to each other and she’s seeing the messages, then there’s a good chance she’ll know what we’re up to. She always shows up without a word, and this does not make it any different.”
“I know that, but there’s no definite plan if she’s agreeing to go or not. She could easily leave the chat tab on and not be aware of what’s going on. I’ve known her to do those kinds of stuff as well.”
So, she’s a bit cluttered then. She must be rushing on a couple of different axes on this day. Even if she’s late, however, I doubt that Kyungsoo and the others would leave her behind. I was told that she was really looking forward to head to Skylight this evening. It would be a huge disservice to her if she won’t come.
“What’s the matter with Ning anyway?” asked Kino amidst the brief silence. “I thought that she’s finished with her classes already, how come she’s still not here?”
“I think she’s rushing on some requirements. Otherwise, I can’t think of any other reason for her to be late, especially in this circumstance,” Kyungsoo responded.
“Well, whatever the reason is, you can ask her yourself; and maybe greet Soyeon, too as she’s literally there with her,” gestured Shinwon towards the far end of the university gate where two figures emerged from the street beyond.
True enough; the two remaining ladies approached the small group of guys with a clear rush on their faces. Soyeon walked beside Ningning, waving her arms wide as she treaded closer to the group. For what was about to happen that evening, she was wearing a white, loose, sleeveless top with a black band bra underneath, coupled with tattered jeans, red sneakers as well as a loose drawstring bag behind her. Ningning, on the other hand, had a darker palette that complimented the rest of her dark-auburn hair. Sporting a black shirt and jeans combo finished with similarly-styled white sneakers with her backpack draped behind her, Ning Yizhou had strands of her hair caught up on her forehead with sweat.
“What happened to you? Did you run here?” Kyungsoo asked as soon as the two ladies joined the group waiting for them. “Why does Ningning look… like that?”
“Don’t even ask. I’ll tell you what happened later,” the woman called Ningning answered, clearly holding her chest as she caught her breathing. “I’m so stressed and I just want to head to Skylight right now and relax.”
“Actually, I saw Ning when I got out of my dorm and elected to join her on going here. Apparently, she’s tired because of something but even she did not explain it to me,” Soyeon said, supplying lost information towards the group while Shinwon scoffed.
“Is that a good enough reason to not even reply to the messaging group? It would have been a lot easier if you just told us what you’re doing then at least we’d know and we won’t be assuming that you’re not interested on going.”
“Shinwon, don’t start with me. I’m really tired right now and I just want to relax.”
“How are you supposed to--?”
“Is everyone else here already?” interrupted Jae-In for the benefit of Ningning and Shinwon not engaging on another possibly uncontrollable argument. “Are we still waiting for anyone else?”
“Yep, everyone’s pretty much here. I think we’re set to go. Do you guys want to board a cab? We can all fit if we choose a larger one, right?” asked Kyungsoo.
“In that regard, I’ll call a cab for all of us. You all wait for me here,” Soyeon volunteered as she left for the side street, out of earshot, to call for a cab.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group’s gentlemen were once again engaged on a heated debate. Everything seemed to have boiled down to Kino asking Shinwon about his guest, which pretty much drove everyone else curious including Kyungsoo and Hongseok. And so, the only person left to talk to the still-tired Ningning was none other than Yoon Jae-In. The young man had no real intention to engage on a conversation with her, but given how verbal Ningning is, she went out of her way and actually spoke to Jae-In out of sheer curiosity.
“You’re Jae-In right…; the one who’s recently added to the messaging group?”
“Yep, that would be me.”
“It’s my first time meeting let alone drinking with you. I’m Ningning. We could have met at the lunch out not that long ago but I had to do some other stuff. I do look forward to being friends with you, though.”
With that, Ningning held her hand out for Jae-In to shake. Even though he precisely knew what to do with the humble offer, his head felt really dumbstruck that it was Ningning that first engaged a conversation on his rather timid persona, for the time being at least. Regardless, he still took her hand and shook it with utmost warmth; a gesture of which she returned with utmost enthusiasm.
“I’m Jae-In. I hope we get along well.”
“That’s good to hear. Don’t go all drunk on me on our first get-together, okay?”
Jae-In had no time to even respond to her as Soyeon’s voice came talking from nearby, apparently accomplishing her mission of hailing a cab fit for them all. Ningning already let go of his hand as she joined the rest of the group, and Jae-In followed shortly with one clear thought in his mind:
This night is going to be really crazy and I can already feel it.