Chapter 13: The Leader Meets his Creators and the Hidden Devil Discovers the Geeky Girl

Rhett had no idea why his mother had called him so early in the morning to persuade him to come home for dinner. The only reason he could probe from her was that: “It has been a long time since the family had gathered together as one”. He was initially suspicious of her skills to craft this type of sentence, but then he remembered that his father probably made her memorize this line. He also came to the conclusion that his parents were plotting something with his father being the mastermind. 

“So, what’s the emergency?” Rhett questioned once his mother had opened the door for him. 

As he slipped into his olive green slippers, his mother repeated, “It’s been a long time since the family has gathered together as one.”

“Okay . . . so, where’s our Marshmallow?”

“Hey!” Rhett’s younger sister, Julie, barked and kicked her brother in the shin, causing him to faintly whimper. “Who said I’m fat?”

Rhett smirked for Changmin had taught him the best comeback ever. 

“Marshmallow doesn’t necessarily represent obesity, but if you think that way, then you must have some relation with fatness,” Rhett calmly chanted with a ripe smile. 

“Argh! You’re unbearable, nee-san!” Julie stomped on his foot now. “You’re still such a brat! Kannei-chan, I don’t get how you stand my brother.” 

Julie had rushed into the living room and snuggled beside Kannei. Rhett’s eyeballs almost popped out when he heard that name. He thought after one date, everything would be over. Who knew she had stalked him to his family’s home? 

“W-what is she doing here?” he accidentally spewed.

Rhett’s father upbraided, “Son, that was not very polite of you. I don’t think I taught my son to behave that way.”

“Sorry.” Rhett gave a slight bow and took a seat beside Kannei. He then whispered in her ear, “Did you ask to be here?”

Kannei straightened her back and murmured, “I told you before. I’m not your stalker. Your parents asked me to be here and they never said you were going to be here anyways, so don’t go off thinking that I came for you.”

Unfortunately for the two of them, Julie had interpreted their actions in a different sense and thereby, mentioned, “Ah! Those two are such love birds!”

“Love birds?” the two cried in unison. 

Rhett had just shifted his head, while Kannei had held her position. It looked as if they were drowning in each other’s gazes, whereas in reality, they were only gawking at each other, perpetually dumbfounded.  

 Julie complained and hopped off the couch, “You two should go get a room!”

“No, Marshmallow, you’ve gotten it—“ 

Rhett cut off his sentence once he saw his parents’ dazzling smiles to the right. They thought that they had done him great service and now expected him to produce some results. Shit, he mouthed, after his parents disappeared to give them some extra couple time.

He gave Kannei a hopeful look, yet she disappointingly remarked, “Don’t look at me. I’m not the one that made your sister confused. You were the one that decided to whisper in my ear first.”

“What? Now, you’re blaming me?” Rhett yapped and unintentionally waved his hand too close to her face that he had whacked her cheek. 

“Hey! What was that for?” she snapped. “I always thought you were somewhat rude, but who knew you were also abusive?”

“Abusive?” His eyebrows creased together. “That was an accident!”

“And you didn’t even apologize?” She folded her arms.

Rhett felt his ears fuming with heat and his voice rising higher and higher. “You didn’t even give me a chance to apologize!”

“Well, if you actually were sincere about it, you would have immediately said sorry!” she fought back with all her might. She wasn’t prepared to lose to the perpetrator. She was the victim!

Before Rhett could add anything more, the two felt someone powerfully push their heads towards each other and then, their lips touched one another’s. This was just as they were about to both take a deep breath and then shout out their arguments. 

“You kiss and you make up and shut up,” Julie sang as she still held onto their heads. She started to count down while the two struggled to attack Julie. “Five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one! Tada!” 

She let go of them and both of them leapt backwards. They yelled, again in unison, “What are you doing?”

Julie giggled and fled. “I’m going to tell Mom and Dad all about this! They’ll be so thrilled!” 

The two victims could only watch. The situation was already raging beyond their control.
So, they sat in silence for a few minutes before Kannei gallantly stated, “You owe me . . . major time. That was my first kiss, for heaven’s sake!”

Rhett had taken a while to respond, “This . . . is your first time dating?” 

“Unfortunately, yes. I didn’t have time in high school and there wasn’t much to choose from. That’s another story though. Anyways, the bottom line is that you owe me. You owe me!”

Feeling rather guilty, Rhett complied, “How am I supposed to make it up to you then?”

Suddenly, Rhett’s parents marched in and announced, “We’re so happy that you two are officially a couple! Julie told us everything.”

“We’re not really—“

“Rhett, you don’t have to say anything. We understand that you may be trying to suppress your urges to show your love for her, but you don’t need to anymore. You’re together now,” his mother delightfully answered.

“B-but,” Rhett attempted to say.

His father gently noted, “Son, we think you’ve made a great choice.” He then bent down and carefully grabbed Kannei’s hands. “Our son will be in your care now. Please treat him well.”

“I . . .” 

His father continued, “Rhett Yunho Jung, treat Kannei well too.”

Automatically, Rhett declared, “I will.”

Changmin had completely forgotten his agreement with the student until she showed up in his classroom after school and announced, “Sensei, the me-me-meeting is about to start.”

“What meeting?” he asked.

“I . . . thought you agreed that you . . . y-you’d be our s-s-s-upervisor.”

Changmin scratched the back of his head, thinking that his plans to try the latest dessert would have to be on hold. “Right. You guys can come in then.” Changmin had expected at least three girls to enter, but only the student entered. “It’s just you that’s planning for the class’ activity for the carnival?” he blurted.

“W-well . . .” 

“The other members dumped everything on you?” he surmised. 

Judging by her looks, anyone could tell that she was an outcast, the one whose name was usually forgotten by her classmates. She had long, straight hair that was divided into two pig tails lying on her shoulders and had straight bangs that just covered the top of her eyes. She wore black thick-rimmed rectangular glasses, which further enlarged her big, puppy-like eyes. With her fair complexion, she looked even more vulnerable. Perhaps, Changmin could relate to her feelings. He wasn’t the popular one in high school, like Rhett; he too resembled her, hiding behind books and his glasses. He only revealed his true self to his closest friends at that time. Now, he just didn’t care.

She nodded and then quietly asked, “I-is it okay for me to sit here?” 

Her finger had pointed to the seat right in the centre of the class.

“Yeah, sure,” Changmin’s voice echoed. “I’ll just help you out today with brainstorming. Next time, I do expect to see the other members here.” 

“I doubt they’ll come,” she sighed and took out a notebook, along with a pencil case.

“They’ll be there if you nag them. You have to constantly call them and perhaps even inform their parents of their duties. Then, they will most likely listen to you.”

She gripped a pen tightly in her right hand and scribbled a title onto the page. “That’s easy for you to say. I’m no good with strangers.”

“I’m kind of a stranger, aren’t I? I don’t even know your name, but you can still manage to talk to me,” he prodded.

“My name is Yamada Shiori.” She smiled with her eyes, answering, “I’ve been in your homeroom class for the past four years of my high school, so I don’t think you’re that much of a stranger.”

 “You’ve known your classmates for several years now, so they’re not really strangers either.”

“T-the thing is  . . . that—“

“You’re scared, aren’t you? You’re scared of rejection?” he asserted. “You know the trick to not being scared, is to not care. If you don’t care what will happen, there is nothing that will scare you.”

She looked up to face his gaze directly. “Is that what you do?” Her voice almost cracked. “Y-you don’t care about anything or an-anyone?”

Changmin smirked with a reply, “You pick what and who you care about. You can ignore everyone and everything else.”

She let out another long sigh. “If only I could be like you, then I’d never have to worry. I s-suppose we should get on with work.” 

Changmin nodded and carefully listened to her ideas for the carnival for he was sure that no one else would listen to her. He tried not to stare at her too often as she reminded him too much of his old self. 

“Changmin, how’s school?” his mother would ask over dinner.

“Okay,” he would always answer.

“Have . . . you made any new friends?” his father would then say.

“I already have friends,” he would remind them.

“Those boys who are always up to no good?” his mother would condemn. “Frankly, I think you should find some new friends. If I weren’t the principal here, I would transfer you to another school.”

“Darling, you shouldn’t—“

“What I’m saying is the truth!” his mother would argue. “Yoochun plays music all day. Junsu does nothing but soccer. Jaejoong skips school crazily. Who knows what that crazy foreigner does? Mhm, only Rhett is decent, always in the top three with his grades.”

Changmin would then eat his meal in silence, refusing to explain further. Sure, his family didn’t appreciate his friends, but that didn’t matter. He didn’t care if only he understood them. He didn’t care if his classmates never talked to him and even spread groundless rumours about him and his family.

“Who’s the guy that you wouldn’t date in your class?”Changmin had overheard a popular girl in his homeroom ask another girl with a ponytail.

“Definitely, Shim san. He’s so awkward and he is too serious!” the ponytail girl chirped.

“I know!” the other girl snickered. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned out to be some killer.”

Sincerity was rarely associated with his remarks after he learned to stop caring about everyone else. His sensitivity had stopped him from knowing any of his classmates in high school; he was afraid to voice his opinions. Now, when he spoke, he was reading words from his mind. Who cared about what this person thought? Most regarded that as his charm, and so if people accepted that part of him, why not turn this way?

Just before the meeting ended, Changmin stated, “If you still care about what others think, then just think before you speak. Just sugarcoat the truth for now.”

She beamed a bright smile before stating, “Although that’ll take a long time, I’ll give it a try, sensei, and sensei, I think . . . somewhere in your heart, you still care. You just care after you’ve done something.”