“You are weird” the boy said.
That comment could mean a lot of things, yet Ji was sure it didn’t mean anything rude.
Henry was just stating the truth, actually. Ji couldn’t help but agree and smile.
“Love you too” was all he said. “In the most platonic way you can think of, of course”
Henry chuckled. Ji felt a little bit uneasy.
What else was he supposed to say? They weren’t really close and there were only a few things he could think of as a discussion topic. Both of them somehow silently agreed to never bring out this uncomfortable awkward atmosphere, so they had decided to remain quiet instead.
Ji liked this though, well, he wasn’t still over what Henry said during his moment of honesty back in the morning, but at least he was glad the fellow didn’t hate him. After all the creeps he has given to him, it was perfectly understandable if he had kept some kind of hatred towards Ji.
But he was going to get to be friends with the foreigner nevertheless.
Wait, he had made some sort of a mental list of all the things he wanted to talk to Henry about, right? What were those things, again? He made a mental note to try and remember some of them later on that day.
Because right now his main goal was to get the boy to like him. Everything else was from now on demoted to 2nd place and below.
“In the most platonic way, you say?” Henry broke the silence. It was okay as long as it was him the one to do so, because normally Henry had some really interesting discussion topics, unlike him. “It’s funny because you sometimes use really big words and sometimes I find it hard to understand some”
Really? He thought Henry was just as fluent as any native Korean out there.
“How come? I don’t really talk that big”
“Yeah, but I am not really that good with Korean anyway”
That couldn’t be true. Henry was like, one of the most good-talking people he had ever known. He almost never made mistakes, and never hesitated when he spoke. He never made typos when he wrote essays…
Perhaps the younger lad noticed the look of disbelief on Ji, he smiled.
“I know what you’re talking about, that Henry, the top student out of the whole class can’t possibly not be good enough at Korean. But hey, remember that I am an exchange student, somehow, that saves me from failing any subject. But don’t ever think I just have them for granted. I think I am just kind of, a gifted boy.”
Ji was still having that look in his gaze, but that didn’t stop Henry from talking.
“See, our Kyuhyun is really hard-working and he is also clever and brilliant. He’s also kind of an outcast, not really what you normally think of how an outcast is, he does have people around who talk to him, it’s just that he doesn’t like to hang out very often and when he does, he wouldn’t leave either his phone or his PSP or DS. He really likes doing well at school because that makes him feel worthy. He is socially awkward and he doesn’t really do anything to improve his social skills.”
Ji couldn’t see anything that could relate Henry’s case to Kyuhyun’s.
“Right; but, what does that have to do with you and your supposedly poor Korean?”
“That’s what I am trying to say; Kyu-hyung is really hard-working and he is really really smart, he doesn’t have any problem with school since he likes most of the subjects. He is, um, a hard-working person, and that will give him success in his life, even though he wouldn’t fully comprehend a theme or assignment, he would study it back at home or ask someone else about it. You get what I am trying to say?”
Ji perfectly got that Cho Kyuhyun was clever and a role model for any average student, and that Henry truly admired him for that. But he nodded nevertheless.
“And then you have me, see, most of the times I get really good grades without even trying properly, I wouldn’t normally put a lot of effort on any task I make, but still I manage to get pretty good notes; back then when I started learning Korean, I would never study, or even dare to open the notebook when it wasn’t during class. I just kind of…get what the teacher explains, and that’s just it. I never put any special effort on the homework I do, yet I always manage to get a 90 onwards…don’t you think that’s funny? Because if I actually put any effort on my work, I’d be unreachable, at the top, and that’s what I am trying to say; don’t ever expect me to open a book to study, perhaps I would often read some for fun, but I actually rather hanging out with friends and being sociable. That’s why I am not really that good speaking Korean, I have never tried my best to learn more and now that brings me trouble here at school.”
Ji could get where was Henry coming from, but still he had some questions, though he decided to keep silent and not ask anything.
It was the smartest thing he thought he could do.
It was around 1:45 PM when Henry’s phone buzzed, indicating he had a new text message.
He opened it and saw it was from Kyuhyun.
“Hey, I convinced Mr. Hwang to let us expose that thing on Monday, he seemed understanding about it, so don’t worry. I also showed him you banner, he really liked it, nevertheless you must memorize your lines well enough if you want to get a really good grade. –Good luck fixing your visa! Kyuhyun.”
Ji could get a glimpse of what Kyuhyun’s text said, and he missed his hyung and their almost incomprehensible attempt of slang they used to text each other.
Perhaps Henry and Kyu weren’t really that close, or perhaps none of them liked to text each other using weird phrases.
It was more likely to be the last one, since, well, they seemed like super close and confident with each other. Of course Henry trusted Kyuhyun a lot, but, would the Cho guy feel the same way?
Henry typed a quick reply in a cheerful manner. Ji couldn’t read what it said this time around.
Still, the guy was clueless about what the younger one tried to say. Perhaps he was right, his Korean was still a bit confusing.
Henry muttered some incomprehensible words in English to himself, and put the cell phone back to his pocket; Ji took a sip of his drink, thinking about calling his mom and tell her he was alright and having a good time with Seung Hyun, or something like that.
“God” Ji stammered, shyly, as he bent his hips over to get a little stone out of the place he was sitting on “I miss lying in my couch there at home”
“I miss my whole home, dude” Henry replied. “Sometimes it’s hard…”
“Is it really that hard?” Ji asked, curiosity aiming “I always thought that if I get to live away, by my own, without my parents, well, I’d be really happy…”
“I don’t know…” Henry muttered “I’ve grown very attached to mine, especially my mom…I don’t know how other people would feel about it”
“I´d be really happy because that means I’ll live with my own rules and not those silly ones my parents have imposed to me and, well, I could arrive at such indecent hours or not even arriving at home at all! I could even get to-” he stopped as he saw Henry’s face darken, in a very odd, almost unrecognizable pout.
‘Perhaps he is sad’ Ji remembered.
“I, am sorry, I never intended to-”
“It’s okay” Henry said, almost breathless “As I stated before, everyone has their own point of view”
“I know, but…you really miss them, right?”
Henry nodded weakly.
“It’s not like I am never seeing them again” he tried to soften the conversation “And I often have phone calls and video chats with them…And I am not really going through a hard time here, actually…I have friends to hang out with” a tiny smile appeared on his lips.
Ji Yong patted his back
“You are doing pretty well, Henry” he said, in an attempt to console him “As long as they know you’re healthy and doing well in school, they’ll worry less.”
The boy was shuddering, covering his face with his hands and knees, curled up in a tiny ball.
Ji Yong was going to ask what was he doing; he approached closer, ready to shake the younger fellow up; before he could do so, he could hear low whimpers and sobs.
It was only then when did Ji Yong realize Henry was crying. At first it started out as a silent, inaudible whimper, turning out in a loud, long-repressed cry as Ji quietly approached Henry, softly took his shoulders and held him close, in an attempt to console him.
“I miss mom, dad, my siblings, and my friends a lot”
“I know, it’s okay to feel homesick, Henry”
“No, it’s not okay, hyung; I am such a crybaby, and I should be happy because I got the chance to visit Korean and this experience will supposedly be good to me and everything…then why am I hating this so much? I’ve got amazing friends, amazing hyungs and dongsaengs…why am I always unhappy?”
“It’s okay” Ji kept patting Henry’s head, smiling at how great it felt the sound of that word. This time he got it right; Henry called him ‘hyung’ and he wasn’t denying it. But this wasn’t the right time to get happy about it.
Henry’s sobs lasted for a long while before he got tired and slowly closed his eyes, not falling asleep at all; just trying to get his thoughts in order and calm down a bit. What had he just done now? He cried; he disliked crying when other people were watching him, he hated it when some random strangers tried to console him for anything that had happened, this was why he always locked himself up in his room and cried alone. He once read some article at a magazine that said it was better to cry alone rather than in public.
But it also stated that humans needed someone to watch them cry, so it was better if they shared their tears with only one close friend.
Which made sense, Henry thought, it actually feels better; though he wasn’t fully used to the presence of the older one.
There was also the fact he just called the guy ‘hyung’ and he wasn’t completely sure whether he’d allow it or not.
He had committed that mistake before; Sungmin-hyung got upset the first time Henry would call him like that; it wasn’t before Henry apologized 5 times and promised to be more respectful in the future when he would allow the younger one to call him that way. Donghae-hyung said it was because Sungmin-ah tried to make him understand not everyone would take it as a light mistake, not that he actually got pissed for it, he was only trying to get Henry to know and understand he even could get in bad terms with that certain person and that was Henry was still yet to comprehend; he basically called everyone like that so easily.
‘Perhaps he didn’t notice’ he said to himself.
It was funny because the least person he could ever think of crying in front of was also the first one he called ‘hyung’ without asking any permission but didn’t got upset at it.
Little did he know Ji was mentally jumping of joy because of it.
“Who do you miss the most?”
Jiyong asked, trying not to sound curious about it. Henry twitched his mouth, trying to recall.
“Aside mom and dad…I think I miss my siblings the most”
He wasn’t ready to tell Ji who was the other person he missed a lot.
“Yeah, I’ve got two; his name is Clinton, he is three years older than me, and already living on his own; since he moved out when he turned 18, I don’t get to see him a lot as I used to before…he is…a big support for me, you know. He has a girlfriend, and I think he’s gonna get engaged soon, so he’ll get to spend more time with his girl and I’ll get to see him less…I know it’s a part of life to move on and get someone to spend the rest of your time with but…I’ll miss him a lot.”
Ji looked at him; Henry still kept on with his rambling.
“Then I’ve got a little sister; I think she is going to turn 1 year old in a few months…I still can remember how she was…I’ve never had a little sibling before, so I was really excited when she was born! Though I am worried to say she’ll steal all the attention from us, since she’s the first female born in years, and I was the baby of the family…I hope she’s okay, and when I come back from Korea, she’ll be able to speak already and I’ll be like a total stranger for her”
“I’ve got a sister as well” Ji tried to take all the nostalgia feelings away from the atmosphere. “She’s older, and a happily married person already, she hasn’t given me nephews though.”
“I-I am not sure if I’ll get to live as the older brother” Henry said.
‘Should I tell him?’ he wondered. ‘Would he get upset?’
Well, he really hadn’t anything to lose, Jiyong wasn’t someone he’d be sad to lose per se, and he seemed like a decent guy, so if he happened to be homophobic he wouldn’t make a big fuss about it and wouldn’t tell anyone if he asked him to.
“You know? The one I miss the most perhaps has already forgotten about me a long time ago.”
Jiyong felt uncomfortable with what Henry said. Somehow he had anticipated beforehand what was going to be said next would make him feel bad.
“Yeah? Who is it?”
Henry hesitated before answering. ‘It’s still time, Henry’ he thought ‘To just make up something silly or say never mind to Jiyong’
“Eh… my…my ex…”
Ji’s heart skipped a beat. Why was he feeling like screaming out loud when the only thing he felt for the boy was sympathy in the most platonic way ever possible?
Well, he somehow had to expect this, hadn’t he? Henry wasn’t a monster per se, he wasn’t disgusting, he even attracted people’s attention without really trying. It should be expected that he had been in a relationship before.
He wasn’t prepared for this.
“Aw, really?” Jiyong tried his best not to seem sad.
“Yes, um…my ex-boyfriend, you know?”
Henry just gave his most private secret away to the person he despised the most just a few hours ago; he felt relieved, as if a big trouble to carry on with had been released.
But he also felt as if his whole being was being exposed to everyone.
Jiyong already knew Henry was gay, courtesy of his hyung and Heechul, of course.
“I-I’m sorry hyung…I am gay”
Jiyong felt annoyed. There wasn’t a thing to apologize for; did Henry really thought he was going to react badly? Didn’t he trust him?
“Shut up. There isn’t anything bad with it, you shouldn’t apologize for liking men”
Henry gulped, nervous, he didn’t have a clue about Ji’s next movement.
“H-his name was, well, is Sterling…we broke up because neither he, nor me felt the way we used to anymore and also because I was leaving for Korea.”
Jiyong didn’t say a word, which made Henry feel even worse.
“He…I miss him a lot; he was so considerate, he always made me gifts and took me for long walks with his dogs; we were together for almost a year, and, well, at first it was like too surreal to be real, but it ended up as if we both had to fake it to still be together…we ended up almost hating on each other.”
“Seems quite a funny scene to watch” Ji commented sarcastically.
“Believe me; it was so pathetic it’d make you cry”
“How was he?” Ji asked “I mean, his physical features”
Henry arched an eyebrow.
“He was, well, tall: 181 centimeters, I think. Blue eyes, blonde hair…uh, like an average Caucasian guy”
“Oh, I see.”
“Honestly I don’t know what did he saw in me, neither what I saw in him anymore. We weren’t that cheesy. We just…uh…sometimes we snuggled together and that was the farthest we could ever get.”
“But you said you missed him…”
“I do” Henry almost spat out “You have no idea how much I fucking miss him, but as a friend.”
Ji was puzzled, as always, with Henry’s words.
“Believe me, I am over him already” he said “Not holding any grudge against him”
Ji’s phone started to ring, which pretty much killed the atmosphere.
“Hello?” Ji answered “Hyung?...Yes…not, not really, I just…” Seung Hyun said something that annoyed Ji “Stop it, hyung!...Oh…I see but- Um, yeah…I don’t think so…okay, hyung, bye. Don’t worry…yeah, yeah I will…okay, bye.”
Ji hung up. Staring blankly at his cellphone.
“Um…Seunghyun-hyung asks if you’d like to come to his house”