Chapter 12: Needle in a Butt Stack

I’m on the defensive mode. I need to stop Sohee from revealing anything about Yeonjun and me to Suho, so before Sohee can open her mouth to do anything, I butt in by declaring, “Ah . . . Suho and I do know each other!”
“Oh wow. How do you know each other?” Sohee asks.

I grab Sohee by the arm and urge, “You know, Suho, Sohee and I are in a hurry. We have to go try out another place for her wedding, so if you’ll just excuse us—“

“Isn’t it about dinner time?” Suho lifts his gleaming Rolex watch. “It’s around six? I’ve finished with my client, but I thought it’d be nice for the three of us to have dinner together. I haven’t seen Sohee for a while now. It has been . . . how many years now?”

“Mm . . . I’m not very sure,” Sohee places a finger on her pouty lips to mutter. “After Yeonjun oppa, Minjun oppa and you graduated from high school together?”

“Huh?” I unintentionally squirm. “You know Yeonjun?” Oh shit. I’m not supposed to even know Yeonjun! This is going to be awful. How am I going to go through this now? Yeonjun is going to butcher me to pieces and make me into some stew.

“Wait . . . you know Yeonjun too?” Suho pensively stares at me.

Sohee is about to open her mouth, but I quickly interrupt, “Yeah. Yeonjun and I were university classmates.”

“And right now, they—“

Stupid Sohee. I pinch her teeny tiny waist, and so she winces in pain. “Oh Sohee! You have a stomach ache now?” I lie. “Okay! Let’s go to the washroom now!” Then, I slug her away to the restroom. All this time, Sohee keeps groaning that I am holding onto her too tightly. I never expected to hear that phrase from a woman. A guy is supposed to pull me away. It’s just not supposed to be like this. God, I hate my life sometimes. “Okay,” I grasp onto her arms and tell her, “here’s the thing. Suho is . . . actually my ex-boyfriend.”

“What?” Sohee extends her jaw wide.

“And umm . . . I’d rather not tell him about my relationship with Yeonjun right now,” I utter. “Suho is . . . err . . . the persistent type, so unless I’m married, he won’t let me go. That’s why I want to tell Suho myself when Yeonjun and I are officially married. You understand?” Sohee still ogles at me for a while, so I go on saying, “Just don’t mention anything about Yeonjun and me dating or whatever. In fact, we’re not even close.”

“O-o-okay?”

“Good! Now, let’s go and have a good dinner with Suho!”

This is why we’re kneeling at a luxurious Japanese restaurant, where you are forced to take off your shoes. I can’t be happier. No more heels. However, as soon as I remove my shoes and make my way towards the low table, Suho glimpses at me up and down. I know what he is thinking. Wow. She is way shorter than I imagined. I toss an evil glare at me along with a warning: “I know I’m short. Okay? 155 cm to be exact.”

Suho’s face tenses up as he mumbles, “No. I w-w-wasn’t really—“

“Mm . . . just cough it up,” I demand. “No point in lying to make me feel better.”

“All right,” Suho utters. “I did think that you were taller, but . . . it’s not bad to be short.”

I let out a sigh. “Honestly, don’t try to sugar coat things.”

“Unnie!” Sohee reminds me to be nice to my “ex-boyfriend”. Oops. I guess I’m playing the role of the hateful ex-girlfriend. In this case, Suho probably dumped me for another girl, and I just hate him to death for that. The other scenario would be that he was still in love with Jessica when he was dating me. Either way, I’d harbour an extreme form of hate known to mankind. That is really easy for me to do. According to ratemyteachers.com and Yeonjun, I have this “fu.ck off” face. It tells people that if they try to ask me anything or approach me in any way, I will snap their heads off and then wipe the blood off of my hands. Frankly, I only developed this facial expression to stop people from handing me flyers or asking me to do surveys. Somehow, this visage becomes a part of me when I’m thinking now. Yeonjun knows when I’m deeply thinking because of my “fu.ck off” face. He even knows that he shouldn’t bother me during those moments or else he’d lose a special set of balls.

“No. No,” Suho apologizes. “I shouldn’t have lied.”

“Exactly,” I mutter before sinking my bottom to the ground. I think I sat down with so much force that I have a sliver poking into my butt. Now, I have to get that out before it jabs me even more. How do I touch my own ass without anyone noticing? Sit on my own hand? Sounds like a good plan.

Now, Suho takes a seat across from Sohee and me. Damn it. That means he has a clear view of my butt picking ways. Leia, put on your learned smile for the next couple of minutes. Think of funny Japanese variety shows. Remember those pranks that the hosts did, where a ghost would pop out of nowhere and chase after someone. Ah yes, now smile. Hold that smile and reach for that thing that is jabbing your butt cheek.

“Leia . . . are you all right?” Suho asks like a proper gentleman.

I notice that his tea is half full, so I pour some with a teapot lying conveniently beside me. “Of course. I am all right,” I try to utter in my most ladylike tone.

“Then . . . why was your hand on your . . . ugh . . . hip and you were laughing?” Suho wonders.

“Umm . . . my waist is sore after—“

“Hehe.” Sohee snickers not so quietly yet not so loudly either.

“Is this an inside joke that—“

“Oh, Suho-sshi, it’s just that unnie is experiencing some—“

Realizing that she is going to blurt out not only Yeonjun’s name, but also that misunderstanding of Yeonjun and me, I confess very abruptly, “I have something stuck on my butt!”

“Eh?” The two simultaneously say while staring at me awkwardly before blushing quite a bit.

I suddenly recognize what the two are thinking. They believe that I have some anal sex toy inside of me. Knowing that I can’t let them misinterpret me, I explain, “It’s not what you think! It’s just a sliver of wood! I mean, you can check my butt if you want.”

“No. It’s . . . umm . . . quite all right.” Suho coughs with his fist covering his mouth.

“Actually . . .” I mumble rather softly. “I think . . . I might need your help.”

As if the tampon incident wasn’t embarrassing enough, now I have a wood chip situation. I have my bottom arched up high like a dog signalling that it wants to play. Two people are bending over to examine where the needle-like material is jabbing into my skin. Luckily, I’m wearing camel cotton shorts with black tights. If I were wearing jeans, then it’d be awfully hard to detect anything.

“Leia . . . are you sure this is okay?” Suho poses courteously.

I urge, “Just do it already!”

Sohee asks again, “Unnie . . . are you sure this is okay?”

I turn my head a bit back to face them. Then, I shout, “Just do it! Place your hand on my ass and get it out!” I pat the area that is irritating me before adding, “Do it quickly!”

“Okay,” Suho mumbles and rests his hands around my butt.

“Is it there?” Sohee inquires.

“No. No. More to the left,” I instruct. I sense Suho’s hands obey my command, and as soon as he glides by that area, I holler, “There! There!” Out of the blue, the doors of the room slide open, and a waitress carrying a plate of sashimi gasps. Immediately, I bellow, “It’s not what you think! We’re not having a threesome!”

Suho stammers, “Sh-sh-she just has something stuck on her pants.”

The woman’s face is horribly red, and she is even waddling as she walks over to place our order on the table. I know she probably doesn’t believe us, and so the whole situation ends when Suho finally plucks the sliver of wood from my ass. By the time we are all settled down to eat, I can only say that it seems like whenever Suho and I meet, I experience some awkward event. I can’t say I usually don’t go through awkward or silly moments, but with Suho, every situation appears to be very . . . odd to say the least.

For the past fifteen minutes or so, the three of us have not spoken a word. Instead, we preoccupy ourselves by snatching pieces of sashimi and then dipping them in wasabi and soy sauce. Whenever Suho’s eyes meet mine, the two of us dumbly smile at one another out of embarrassment. First, there was the tampon, and now, there was the butt picking. What else could there be left?

Plop.

I drop my sushi smothered in wasabi and soy sauce on my lap. Great. These were a new pair of shorts too. Quickly, I excuse myself and go to the washroom to wash my stain. I stare at myself in the mirror and realize that now, I look like I peed in my pants. Great. Just great. As I leave the washroom, I find Suho standing beside the entrance. I jump up out of shock, which causes Suho to place his hand over his mouth and chuckle silently.

“Wh-wh-what’s wrong?” I ask rapidly. If it were Yeonjun, he’d be pointing at my crotch and teasing me about not being able to control my bladder. It’d be even worse if Eunhyuk were here.

Fortunately, Suho is much more well-mannered and poses, “Is everything all right?”

The stupid me isn’t feminine enough to show that I’m happy that he asked about me. Instead, years of hanging out with Yeonjun has made me quite the snapper. I bark at Suho, “What? Are you my father?”

Suho shakes his head, answering, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude or anything. I was just a bit worried about you. That’s all.”

“Sorry,” I mumble. Squinting my eyes, I laugh in a weird way, “I just get defensive after being around Yeonjun for so long.” I cover my mouth, muttering quite soundlessly: “Crap!”

“Oh? You know Yeonjun too?” Suho glimpses at me with much confusion.

“About that . . .” I dart my eyes back and forth. Tell the truth or lie. Tell the truth, and Yeonjun’s career will be over. Lie and . . . nothing bad will happen? Okay. Lie. I purposely focus on the corner of the hallway while explaining in a meek voice, “It’s just that . . . Yeonjun was my ex-boyfriend.” At that word, I glimpse at Suho with my best set of docile eyes. I even bat my eyelashes to appear innocent.
“Ex-boyfriend?” Suho’s eyebrows squiggled together. “Then . . . why are you the maid of honour for your ex-boyfriend’s sister?”

“Oh . . . that . . .” Think. Leia, think. Quickly, I explain, “I got along quite well with Sohee when Yeonjun and I were dating. And, well, even if Yeonjun and I have split up, it doesn’t mean that my friendship with Sohee would stop right?”

“I guess . . .” Suho shrugs his shoulders and hands me a sigh. “It’s a pretty small world then,” Suho adds. Within a few seconds, Suho’s eyes light up as he remarks, “But I guess it’s a good thing!”

“Wh-what is?” I stammer.

Suho has already started to walk back to our room, but he pivots at his heel to tell me, “That you’re not on Yeonjun’s side.”

“Huh? Why?”

Suho almost too casually reveals: “I never really liked that guy anyways. His brother is better.”

“What do you mean?”

Suho scrunches his whole face together and even tilts his head to the side. “Aren’t you his ex? Shouldn’t you know how manipulative and heartless he is?”

“Aha . . .”

Suho ends by saying, “Yeonjun . . . he’s a man who will do anything to succeed. Doesn’t matter if he’ll be worse off in the next life.”

Yeonjun? That’s the Yeonjun Suho knows? Was what Sohee said all true? Yeonjun has that dark side? He never shows it in front of our group. Yeonjun is just known as the tricky prankster. Tricky . . . that’s similar to manipulative right? If he can play tricks on us, then surely, he could plant dirty tricks on others. But . . . why would he ever do that? I don’t really understand why he’d live a life of treachery and lies. I know I am lying to help Yeonjun, who is my friend, but I would never do that to advance in life. The Yeonjun I know has never fabricated anything. He just spits out the harsh truth or comments sarcastically. He even helped me when I was dead drunk. I mean, he could have raped me or taken pornographic photos of me if he wanted. Instead, he stayed beside me. It just doesn’t make sense that he’d be the type to do anything to succeed. It just doesn’t click with me. Yeonjun being a man without a conscience?

Yeonjun is the first I’d call for help because I know he’d do anything to help me. However, Suho’s words keep resonating in my mind.

Shouldn’t you know how manipulative and heartless he is?

Manipulative . . . maybe.

Heartless . . . I don’t . . . want to believe so, yet my intuition is telling me that Suho may be right.
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