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the dying girl and i

By @athenongs

it's 4am

Jaehyun didn’t know what exactly he would have been expecting that Friday night. He spends all his Friday nights in the exact same manner – dinner at 7, Netflix at 8, and studying at 10. Jaehyun found that he studies best when it is really late into the night. Perhaps exhaustion is his fuel.

2 hours prior, his friend Johnny had facetimed him just to make sure his friend wasn’t staying up late at night to study. Sadly, he was utterly disappointed with what he saw.

“Seriously, Jaehyun?” Johnny said crossly. “Late night studying again? You’ve been looking so tired this past week, I was so worried that you might faint!”

Jaehyun forced a weak smile. “Youngho, I’m fine. Really. Besides, you know that I’ve got to study to get good grades. These grades won’t raise themselves, you know.”

Jaehyun watched as Johnny ruffles his hair in annoyance. “Yah! I know that, Jaehyun. But if you keep this up, you’re going to ruin yourself, and that won’t be pretty.”

Jaehyun sighed and attempted to pacify his friend. “Alright, I’ll go to sleep after this chapter. That sound okay to you?”

Through the screen, Johnny eyed him sceptically. “You’d better, or else I’m coming over to **** your ass.” The two bid each other farewell and “goodnight” before Johnny finally, and reluctantly, hung up on the facetime call.

As it turned out, Jaehyun had lied through his teeth. Again.

He was currently on his third extra credit assignment of the year, which would be his second literature analysis of the night. Jaehyun never seemed to stop working, as it seemed, since there were three opened cans of iced coffee on his study desk.

Before he knew it, another 2 hours have passed, and it was nearly 4 am. Since when did he start to have this habit of losing track of time? Oh right, since I started high school. Life is depressing as it is.

At that point in time, Jaehyun finally decided that hey, it’s time to sleep. He could finish whatever leftover work he had left the next afternoon.

He headed towards his closet and grabbed a pair of sweatpants and a loose white shirt. Since no one else was home except for him, and the neighbours had long gone to sleep, no one would see him changing in his room, right? Jaehyun turned to have his back facing the windows and began removing the shirt he had worn since that afternoon.

While he changed, he failed to notice that his bedroom window was being inched open, and a petite figure climbed through it.

“Holy smoking mama,” he heard from behind him. Jaehyun turned around in panic to find a very familiar looking female gaping at his bare upper body.

Jaehyun was the first to break the silence. “Kwon Soo Ah, what are you doing in my room? It’s 4 am.”

Soo Ah whispered, “Holy heck, well aren’t you slightly ripped.”

Jaehyun’s cheeks flushed at her remark, and hastily put on the white shirt that he had been bunching up in his hand. Again, he asked, “Soo Ah, for the love of god, what are you doing in my room at this ungodly hour?”

Soo Ah ripped her eyes away from his chest to make eye contact with Jaehyun. He felt his ears heat up, no doubt turning red, just like they always did when he felt embarrassed. Soo Ah took in a deep breath and began her decree, “I have to come to ask you for a favour. Will you, Jung Jaehyun, the guy who sits at the back of my class, be the best friend of me, the dying girl, for the rest of the year to finish my bucket list?”

At first, Jaehyun was baffled. It had to be some sort of joke. Kwon Soo Ah, the undeniably pretty girl in class who was always surrounded by her friends, wanted him to be her best friend? She must have been either high on drugs or on a high paying dare to have to utter those words. Or maybe both. Either way, the girl who broke into his room couldn’t have asked him anything weirder than him being her best friend.

“No,” he replied curtly while giving her a staring down. “Don’t you already have a best friend? What’s her name again? Park Hyemi, right? You don’t need me.” He watched as Soo Ah crosses her arms indignantly.

“Dude, what is your problem? Why are you so tilted?” Soo Ah asked. “I told you already, I’m dying. And yeah, sure, I have a best friend now, but who’s to say she’ll stay after I tell her I’m dying? You know how fake the girls in our class are and they only stick around with me because my parents are rich. I don’t want anyone to treat me differently just because I’m dying.”

“What makes you think I won’t treat you differently? What makes you think that Hyemi is just being fake towards you? Why do you have to bother me?” Jaehyun said, a hint of irritation rising in his tone. His voice got louder as he spoke, and he just couldn’t stop the words that tumbled out of his mouth next. “And if you’re really dying of whatever it is you’re dying of, why don’t you just get Make-A-Wish to finish your bucket list? I’m sure they’d comply with you much better.”

Soo Ah laughed bitterly, “Wow, rude much?” Instantly, Jaehyun regretted raising his voice at her. But he couldn’t take back the words that had left his mouth, and “sorry” probably wouldn’t cut it. “Anyway, let’s begin answering your questions because you wouldn’t let me finish explaining myself after my dramatic entrance,” she continued, an irritated smile playing on her lips. “First off, your last response answers your first question. You don’t even believe that I’m dying, so why would you treat me any differently?”

Jaehyun cut her short, his expression softening. “Hey, you know, I was being too harsh just now. It’s not that I don’t believe you, it’s just that it’s too unbelievable. And probably because it’s 4 am and I’m really tired. So… I’m sorry?”

Soo Ah smiled, genuinely. “Apology accepted,” she answered, sitting down on Jaehyun’s swivel chair. “I chose you because your grades are super good, and I highly doubt that my small adventures will impact you a lot. And… you don’t seem like the type that has fun a lot, so I’ll be here to help you.”

Jaehyun scoffed. “Oh, I know how to have fun. I don’t need your help.”

Soo Ah raised an eyebrow. “Oh? This says otherwise.” She gestured towards the cans of coffee, and stacks of textbooks and assignments. “So, what do you say? Will you give it a shot?” Jaehyun looked into her eyes and saw a small sparkle in them. Her hand was extended, waiting for an answer. “Will you, Jung Jaehyun, be my best friend, till the day I die?”

Jaehyun cringed at her choice of words. Sounds like something out of a classic childhood movie. He hesitated for a moment, but in the end, reached out to shake her hand. “Hey, don’t make me regret my decision, okay? You seem like someone I shouldn’t be hanging out with.”

She flashed him a wide grin which in all ways did not make him feel any better. “Don’t worry. You won’t.”

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