"Leave him alone!"
With thundering footsteps, Subin rushed to the shorter boy's side with a threatening glare. She waved her bag about as she tried to swat the pair of taller boys who were preying on her friend. "I said, 'leave him alone'!" she shouted once more, her voice shrill and raucous. "Are you guys deaf?"
The pair of taller boys sniggered at her as they backed away from the shorter boy who was covering his head with his bag. "Look, it's the bin girl!" one of them taunted as he pointed at Subin. He smirked as he leered at the shorter boy who ran and cowered behind her, "You're lucky you got a tough girlfriend, though no one knows why she'd ever want to stick with a pathetic wimp like you."
"Yeah," the other boy agreed. "But I guess it's a match made in heaven: Bin girl and Junkpoop!"
Subin narrowed her eyes at them both. "He's not my boyfriend," she said through gritted teeth. "And if I catch you picking on him again I'll-" Subin approached the pair who started backing away.
"Chill!" one of the boys said. "Geez, you're like friggin' Amazon woman."
"Yeah," the other boy agreed once more. "We were just having fun-"
"You call that fun?" she retorted. "Get outta here before I get my brother on you!"
Upon hearing those words, the pair started slinking away but not before addressing the short boy who was using Subin as a shield. "This ain't over. We'll be back for you tomorrow, Junkpoop."
The other boy snickered, "Yeah, Junkpoop!"
Subin had a threatening stance which made the dumber of the pair jolt. When they were finally out of sight, Subin turned to Jungkook who looked like he was about to burst into tears.
"Thanks, Subin-noona," he said to her meekly in Korean. He pushed his round glasses further up his nose bridge as they started slipping down.
Subin sighed, "I've told you before, don't call me that."
He looked taken aback. "I'm sorry, Subin" he apologised once more. His brows furrowed as he tried to mentally remind himself time and time again how Subin hated being referred to as 'noona'.
"When are you ever going to learn to defend yourself, Jun?" She asked as she gestured for both of them to start making their way to the parking lot. "It's been three months since you transferred to our school and you still haven't made any friends in your class."
Jungkook stared at her timidly. "I'm sorry..." he replied in Korean again.
This irritated Subin. "Jun, you can't keep speaking in Korean. You're in London now. You have to try and speak English if you want to adjust faster."
Jungkook peered at her with an uncertain expression. "But, it's so hard, noo-"
Subin gave him a warning stare.
"I mean, Subin" he finished. "Can't I just speak Korean when I'm with you?"
"But that's the thing" she replied exasperatedly, "You always hang out with me so you won't improve your speaking because I can understand you."
Jungkook looked at her innocently. "But I can understand English better now! My listening has improved. Listening to you speak English has helped me a lot."
"That's great and all but practising your speaking is more important" she replied. "What's the point of you being able to understand everyone but not being able to express yourself?" Subin shook her head in dismay at Jungkook. "Sometimes, I wonder how you'll be able to cope once I leave school."
Jungkook looked at her anxiously. "You're not going to our school's sixth form?"
Subin shook her head. "Nope. I'm planning to go to college instead. Or maybe move to a better one near central."
A worried expression graced Jungkook's boyish features. "But... that means I won't see you anymore."
Subin glanced at his direction and saw that he looked like he was about to cry. She sighed, "Jun, you can't expect me to stick around forever. It's my final year in this crappy secondary school. You think I wanna stick around with all these arseholes for another two years? Hell no!"
Jungkook looked at her pleadingly and then sighed in resignation. "You're right" he murmured. "I know you hate our school a lot." He looked up at the grey sky, "Why couldn't we be in the same year? Then we could leave this school together."
Subin was about to reply when the sound of a car horn honking caught her attention. Both she and Jungkook turned and saw that Subin's older brother had finally arrived to pick them up.
"Get a move on!" he shouted as he leaned out his car window. "I still got a report to write!"
Subin and Jungkook rushed to the beaten up red car. Once they were inside, Subin couldn't help noticing the putrid scent of her brother's car that immediately triggered her car sickness. "Bloody hell," she complained as she climbed into the front passenger's seat. "When was the last time you cleaned this thing?"
"Quit your complaining and get on" he grumbled. He turned to Jungkook, who was sitting at the back, and gave him a friendly smile as he spoke to him in Korean. "You alright there, Jungkook?"
Jungkook smiled back politely. "I'm good, Yoongi-hyung."
Once their seatbelts were buckled, the car spluttered back to life and they started driving away.
Subin had a sly smile as she glanced at her brother, who she knew was dying to ask Jungkook the usual question whenever he was in the car with them. Inconspicuously, she started counting down the seconds to when he'd ask the question.
...Eight, seven, six, five-
"How's your sister, Jungkook?"
Damn it, Subin thought. Missed out by five.
"She's okay" Jungkook replied, oblivious to Yoongi's true intentions. "She's just started her dissertation now so she's been very stressed."
"I can imagine" Yoongi answered a little too keenly. Subin giggled under her breath at her brother's so-obvious behaviour. "Does she need any help with the citations or anything? I have some good references."
"I think Noona's almost done with it" Jungkook replied. "But she did say that the hardest part was writing the methodology-"
"Oh, if she needs help with that, I'm also writing mine so..."
Subin smirked at the sight of her brother trying so hard. Why couldn't he just be straightforward about it and ask her out on a date or something?
"Hey, Yoongi, is dad back home now?" Subin asked, to clear the awkwardness in the car when Jungkook failed to respond to Yoongi's indirect proposal.
Yoongi grunted, "Yeah, he arrived this morning." But then, he frowned at her. "Why can't you be like Jungkook and refer to me as 'oppa'? I'm your elder, you know."
Jungkook seemed to have snapped out of his daydream as he added, "Subin doesn't like it when I call her 'noona' either."
"Dad doesn't mind it" Subin replied dismissively. "And we're in the UK, it feels weird when I call you 'oppa' in public. I feel like a koreaboo."
Once they had dropped Jungkook off at his house, Yoongi and Subin continued their conversation.
"Why are you looking for dad?" he asked her. "You better not be asking for more money again."
"I'm not" Subin huffed. "I have this essay I need to write for my coursework so it's really important. It's about our family history and stuff and I figured dad will be able to help since he just came back from South Korea." Subin frowned. "It sucks to be Asian. Everyone else in class has it easy because they're all either part Irish or Scottish or Welsh or something."
Yoongi was disinterested. "A family history essay? Sounds boring as fuck."
"Better than some crappy report you gotta write" she retorted. Subin thought for a moment. "Maybe I should've just asked Jun. He's really into all that Korean stuff."
"Yah, that 'Korean stuff' you're referring to is actually our culture" Yoongi reminded her pointedly.
Subin hmphed. "Whatever. But anyway, how's dad? Did you talk to him yet?"
Yoongi grunted. "He's doing okay. It's not like he's the type to cry anyway."
Subin silently agreed with her older brother's statement. It had been two weeks since she had last seen her father after he had left unexpectedly for South Korea to attend her grandmother's funeral. As the plane fares were too expensive for all three of them, their father had decided to go alone leaving Yoongi, who was a university student, in charge of the house while he was gone.
When Subin found out that her maternal grandmother had passed away, she didn't feel anything inside. It wasn't like she was very close to her anyway. She had only met her a few times when she was younger. Naturally, she was closer to her paternal grandparents as her father kept in touch with them and so she and Yoongi did too.
"Hey, Yoongi. What was my mom like?"
Yoongi glanced at her briefly before fixating his eyes back on the road. "Why are you asking about her all of a sudden?"
"Nothing much. It's just that I have to write about my family history and dad doesn't like talking about her." Subin continued to stare out the front car window. "And with my grandma gone, you're pretty much the only person I can talk to about her."
Yoongi was silent for a moment. "She was a nice lady" he eventually answered. "She was a lot nicer than my mom, I can tell you that."
Subin smiled slightly. "Really?"
He nodded. "Yeah. I remember her giving me loads of chocolates when I was a kid. And she was quite a good cook too." His eyes softened as he spoke about her. He peered at Subin briefly again and mentioned, "You kinda resemble her, you know. You have the same kinda hair and the same kinda eyes."
Subin inspected her features in the rear-view mirror. "I wish I could have met her" she whispered wistfully.
Yoongi was silent.
"You should talk to your mom too. Invite her to your graduation next year."
Yoongi's lips thinned at the idea. "She's not worth the plane ticket" he muttered disdainfully. "Let's not talk about her anymore," he said as he parked their car outside their apartment building. "Talking about her just brings back bad memories."