It hadn't been long since Henry got transferred from Canada to South Korea during a student exchange organized at his school. Two or three months perhaps, he was living alone now, neither dad nor mom nor siblings who'd take care of him, and, with all honesty, he was doing pretty fine.
Heck, he was only fifteen, living alone in a really small apartment, he had to look by himself, and although he wasn't living in a dangerous place (he pretty much was living in the accomodated area of the city) the extreme cultural change, if not shock already, was hard.
Food, the way you treat other people, costumes, everything was pretty different. Fortunately, his lack of what an average korean might call "manners" hadn't got him into troubles -yet- with other people.
Sure, he had been learning the language way before getting to Korea, but little did he know it was going to be really though.
But, hey, it wasn't really that hard, right? He was just feeling pessimistic that day, he also had to look on the bright side, right?
Of course he wasn't a loner, that strange foreigner with weird manners who everyone ignored. Nu-uh. He made friends with some nice boys who always helped him out, and although he upset one of them -this funny, childish, good-looking guy whose name was Donghae- at the beginning, because of what Hae would later point out as a "harsh and snarky" tone and "rude" attitude, they all turned out as a nice and funny gang.
But still, it wouldn't prevent him from having to deal everyday with bullies who made fun of his strange accent and awkward traits.
Not that there were many, but yeah, there were. Especially this 5-member group who seemed to get along pretty well with his hyungs, but always said/did things to Henry that got him really in the nerve.
Not that he disliked them, they pretty much were perfect strangers to him, so why should he pay them any attention? Better ignore those things, right?
He had to pik his stuff up before leaving for school, he had to put all the pens and color pencils he left around the night before. As he put all of them in his pencilcase, again, in order, he couldn't help but stare again at the beautiful banner he made for the History class for that day.
"Well, it took me all day long, but I think it really worth it." He muttered, feeling proud and very happy.
He and the cool hyung he had met at the clasroom had been partners for a History assingment, it had to do with how the spaniards arrived to the yet-to explore new territory that'd be later known as America, about the South American colonies, about Hernán Cortés and the aztecs, about Francisco Pizarro and the Inca Imperium.
The banner had little boats and huge ships on it, reaching for the nearest shore, and some men getting out of them, standing in the sand.
The drawings in there weren't the best, but he had given all his best to make a decent enough banner, heck, he had this sensation it was the best school task he had ever done in his life.
He smiled again, and rushed to the school in a hurry, Universal History I was the first class of the day, and he wanted to arrive early.
"Wow, Henry, how much time did it take to you to do this?" Kyuhyun exclaimed, dazzled of course. Henry smiled widely. "I am just a little bit sad because I don't think my part would be as good and well-made as yours!"
"No, it's okay hyung!" Henry replied "I mean, you organised the whole thing into a perfect report for the teacher, and a well-done script for the exposition!"
Not that he was being abootlicker or something, Kyuhyun-hyung recopiled most of the information and gathered it into a written report for professor Hwang to read it. And also organised it in a scrpt that the two of them had to read and try to learn so that the exposition could be interesting and good.
They had put a lot of effort in this one task. He just hoped it could finally work out.
"Well, I think it's pretty good" said Jessica, in a low voice "Mr. Hwang wont give you liess than 80"
Jessica was a classmate, Henry didn't talk to her a lot, but the few times he got into a conversation with her, he could recall she was nice and could put up an interesting converstaion, though some people said she was dizzy and sometimes mean.
"Well, thank you, at least we won't fail this one" Kyuhyun-hyung replied
"I am sure we will achieve a full 100!" Henry exclaimed "We've put a lot for it!"
"Then you should review the script again" Kyuhyun said "You still have some gaps on the part where we explain why the war between spaniards and aztecs started"
"I know" said Henry, grabbing the copy Kyuhyun was holding in his hands
"Oh, well, let's see..." Henry mumbled "Right after Hernyan Cortes arrived to what is now the state of Veracruz..."
Kyuhyun and Henry were close friends. Perhaps for the fact he was the one out of the other fourteen guys whom Henry liked to call 'hyungs' who was also in his classroom. Most of them were one or two, even three or four grades upper than him, so Kyuhyun was basically the one he talked to during classes. Though Henry was just through a really hard time at the moment, he had no chances to make any new friends, anyway. His life right now was full of homeworks, tasks to do, and he also had a burning curiousity for knowing he whole city he was now living in.
Kyuhyun offered to accompany him once, and he really enjoyed that day, but Kyuhyun had now less time to hang out since he was preparing himself for the upcoming math contest, to which Kyuhyun was eagerly looking forward to, the fellow really liked solving math problems.
And he would ocassionally hang out with his other hyungs, but there were some places he wanted to head alone. The entire gang was just too big for all of them to fit into a little place, and sometmes he longed for a quiet moment of peace.
And that day finally arrived, for later that night, he would escape from the busy life of a high school student and run away, at least for a day, to the outskirts of the town, a place he visited in the first week he arrived to Korea.
Specifically, a green and lonely meadow he had seen.
Just for one day, and then everything would be okay, right?
He was totally skipping classes the next day, and try to relieve some stress: he thought it wasn't going to acamedically affect him, he was doing fantastic in school, after all.
So right after school ended, he would catch the next bus or something, and head to that place.
Yeah, that'd surely work.
As a matter of fact, Henry was dissapointed.
As the principal would later announce, Mr. Hwang was utterly ill. Swine flu, some said, he actually was divocing his wife, other would comment. The thing was that that day there wont be any History classes. That meant Henry had to leave the banner he made in his locker in order to not forget it the next day, when Mr. Hwang would appear and ask for the homework for sure.
Right after classes reached an end, Henry quickly approached to his locker, and put his stuff into it. He made sure he had made all the homework that was dut tomorrow so that he wouldn't worry about it in the afternoon, he wanted a damn afternoon all for him alone.
After locking his things up, he was too late to take the bus that would lead him to the outskirts of town, and was rushing to the main hallway, when a way too familiar voice called for him in a sudden
"Hey you! Henry! Henry Lau!"
Henry stood still there where he was standing, he perfectly knew who the owner of that voice was, and it frightened him.
Slowly turning back his head, he decided to face that boy. Hopefully the encounter wouldn't last long.
Henry could hear the chuckle that guy made with his mouth.
Kwon. Kwon Ji Yong.
Ji Yong was also his classmate, Henry would talk to him sometimes, he was all smiles, nice, and could make up a good conversation, though Henry got kind of frightened whenever he was with him.
Though, at this moemnt right now, he couldn't recall why.
"Uh...yes? Do you need something?" he asked, stiff.
What was he gong to do next? Why did he even called him for, in first place? Was he going to beat him up? Steal his food/money? Ask him a favour? Tell him something?
Perhaps was it because he accidentally ran over Ji Yong's hyung, Seung Hyun, the other day at the cafeteria, causing him to drop the cup of coffee he was holding in his hands -which made Seung Hyun really, really upset.
Not that he hit him or soething, but the death glare he gave away to Henry still scared him.
"Oh! I am so sorry!" he bowed really low, and bent down to pick up the dropped carton cup from the floor. "I will go to the bathroom and ask for a towel to clean this up!"
"No. Uhm. It's okay" the boy muttered, slowly. "I guess I'd have to buy another one"
Seung Hyun wasn't really angry or something, but he wasn't happy either. Just...suprised.
He wasn't going to smack the guy's head, but still, he was upset.
"Oh, let me pay it for you!" Henry said, automatically pulling out his wallet.
"No. It's okay. I'll pay by myself."
"No, no. It was my fault, I am paying for it" said Henry, handing him a 500 won dime "Please accept it"
Seung Hyun shook his head.
"No, no. I don't want to accept it"
"Please...as an apology"
Henry swallowed hard, he didn't know the guy, yet he already owed him a medium-size cup of coffee!
The only thing he knew about him at the moment was that he was very close to Kwon Ji Yong, but was two grades higher. He was also Ryeowook-hyung's classmate. And he was also friends with Siwon-hyung and Heechul-hyung.
Henry was still handing the dime, the scene might have been pathetic, or at least amusing.
Then, mighty Siwon came to the rescue. Yeah, just what he needed, his hyung who probably was clueless of what was going on, and would problably make things more awkward.
"Oh, what is going on in here?" He asked, in a very clueless way. Was he faking it? Henry thought "Seung Hyun-ah, did Henry upset you?"
"I accidentally ran over him and dropped the coffee he was holding. I am sorry, I'll pay for it and also I'll clean up this mess"
The guy, who was still stiff, tensed down a bit.
Henry was still handing the money, and vowed his arm a little.
Siwon again, asked him:
"Seung Hyun-ah, aren't you going to accept the money this clumsy boy offers you?"
"I-It's okay, hyung. I don't want it, I've already told him I wont accept it"
Siwon's smile waved.
"It's okay Henry" he said, turning the boy's arm down "He won't accept it, there's no need to keep on insisting."
Henry bowed again and apologised
"I am sorry, eh..." How was the guy's name, again? Oh, right "Seung Hyun-ssi, I promise it will never happen again"
"No, it's alright Henry-ssi"
"I am glad it was just an accident" he said "Henry, you should be more careful and watch your steps."
"Yes! I am sorry!"
"And now, you" Siwon said to Seung Hyun "Do you wanna have a coffee with me, Seung Hyun-ah? It's been a while ever since we last talked!"
"Oh, yes, hyung, why not?" The boy smiled
He smiled, and then offered a hand to Henry.
"Uhm. Nice to meet you, my name is Choi Seung Hyun."
"My name is Henry Lau, nice to meet you too."
Why was he even frowning about that one? It's not like he got into a fist fight or something with Seung Hyun, right? Why was he mad, then? Did that guy hold any grudge against him and told Ji Yong to beat him up for him?
Oh, silly Henry, stop your stupid train of thoughts right now. You don't even know what he called you for. And Ji Yong had never threathened you or something!
"I liked the banner you brought today very much"
Oh, that. Wait, just that? Wasn't he going to say something else?
"Oh, thank you. I put a lot of effort on it, so it makes me happy whenever I hear it."
His whole body was stiff, as if it was expecting the right moment to run away.
The other boy smirked.
"Hey! You look scared! What is it that you're afraid of?" Ji Yong asked playfully, grabbing Henry by the shoulder
"Eh? Ah, nothing, I just..." Henry mumbled
The reason why he was being so...cold with him was because he wasn't used to be treated that way
especially with starngers.
Ji Yong was a perfect starnger, sure he had talked to him before and he was nice and everything.
But they weren't old pals, or childhood buddies. Heck, he didn't even know he existed two months ago.
It was just too soon to treat him like that.
"I just...have to rush off to my home as soon as possible"
"Nonsense, you normally stay until midnight at the library...with that girl...what was her name, again? Topaz? Agatha?"
"Amber" Henry corrected.
True. Amber was four years younger than him, and was still starting Middle School, she was also an exchange student, from the US. Henry got along with her pretty well ever since his first days at the institute. Donghae always mocked him about spending 'extra-time' with her, but they were just friends.
Henry did not swing that way, and all his hyungs knew about that. But he didn't boast about it all over the place (hah, as if there was something to boast about from it, he thought).
"Oh, yeah. Sorry about that, I just don't know that girl. But from what I've seen, she's cool, right?"
"Yes, she is nice, I guess..."
"So, what is it that makes you want to rush to your house? From what I can tell, you live alone..."
"Yes but I have some things to do in there"
Seems that Ji Yong got the indirect pretty well. His smiled slightly faded, and soon released Henry from his grip.
"Oh, right. I am sorry, you need to go home. Good night...I guess"
"See you tomorrow" Henry waved, smiling. Of course he wasn't going to see him the next day, he was going to skip classes, after all.
Ji Yong smiled weakly
"I don't think I would be able to attend classes tomorrow"
"Oh. Well, see you the day after, I guess"
So was he going to miss classes tomorrow as well?
"Goodbye, take care" Ji Yong added, this time, in english.
"Make sure you too" Henry replied, in english as well