Kudos to ChappalChor4 for helping out with the editing!
Refiner: Dair & ChappalChor4
It was evening at café Saint.
“Sunbae, I have something to tell you about Miss Yeon-hee.”
Having finished serving the crowd of customers, the place returned to its usual silence. Exhausted, I was absently eating the spaghetti that the Manageress had brought out.
“According to my investigation, she… Um, Sunbae?”
Realizing that she was speaking to me, I raised my head.
“…Did something happen?”
Ka-ryeon looked into my face with a look of concern.
“No, it’s nothing.”
I shook my head, but Ka-ryeon continued to stare at me with a face full of doubt.
“Did something happen at school?”
“…Did Miss Yuyu do something impulsive again?”
I was surprised by her accurate remark.
“How did you know?”
“I’ve told you this love rectangle of ours may be more dangerous than I’d thought. I had foreseen the possibility of something like this happening. Although I’d thought the first one to act impulsively would have been Miss Yeon-hee and not Miss Yuyu.”
“…And you don’t act impulsively?”
“I'll be living with you for a long time come. I’m not so impatient as to act on impulses. Fufu.” Touching her lips with her finger, Ka-ryeon laughed. “Please tell me what happened.”
“Sunbae, don’t worry. I’m on your side. There may be something I can do to help.”
After contemplating for a moment, I told Ka-ryeon everything that has happened at school. About how Yuyu had spread the secret that she’s my girlfriend, and how she had arranged the occasion to eat lunch with my friend Sega.
“…She sure is transparent.” Said Ka-ryeon, sighing.
“Transparent? Then you know why she did it?”
“Yes. It’s to create a situation where you won’t be able to ‘dump’ Miss Yuyu.”
A situation where I won’t be able to dump her?
“Sunbae, let’s suppose our claims are all true for the moment. Even then, will you keep three-timing?”
“No, I can’t do that…”
What Sega had said flashed through my mind, but I shook my head.
“Then you’ll have to choose one girl, and that means you must break up with the other two. If you choose no one and decide to put an end to our relationships, you’ll have to break up with three girls.”
“I, I suppose so.”
“But if you’re in a situation where people at your school are aware that you and Miss Yuyu are going out, it becomes difficult to break up with her, increasing her probability of not getting ‘dumped’. That means she may get selected to be your exclusive lover.”
I swallowed my breath at her words.
“And even if Miss Yuyu’s claim… her claim that she’s your real girlfriend proves to be false, she can take over the position of being your real girlfriend with that as a pretext. An upgrade from a fake girlfriend to a real girlfriend.”
We just have to keep dating.
Yuyu had definitely said that.
“I’m not the one to talk, but a woman’s heart sure is frightening. I didn’t expect her to pull out all the stops.”
“…Why is she doing this?”
“Must I really tell you myself?” Ka-ryeon made a hopeless expression. “You’re not a dense protagonist from a romantic comedy; don’t tell me you still haven’t noticed? The reason why Miss Yuyu is doing this is because she…”
“Because she’s really trying to bring down my grades?”
“…Sunbae, I’ll have to reconsider my opinion of you if you really mean what you’re saying.”
I disclosed the story that I had heard from my homeroom teacher at the counseling room to Ka-ryeon.
“…Have you confirmed this with Miss Yuyu.”
“I wasn’t able to…”
Ka-ryeon’s expression was deep in thought.
“Maybe it’s a misunderstanding.”
“I hope so…”
I, too, didn’t want to believe that Yuyu had approached me in order to bring down my grades.
“I don’t think the current Miss Yuyu is the kind of person to do that sort of thing.”
“I think so, too.”
“However, there may be a side of her that we don’t know about.”
The Yuyu from my lost memories may have been different.
When I started to think that way, I became more doubtful.
“There is no way of telling…”
It was at the moment I muttered to myself:
“Then you just have to ask the person herself.”
The door opened and someone entered the store.
It was Yeon-hee… Unlike yesterday, she was looking at us with an ice-cold expression.
And she wasn’t alone.
Having been dragged inside with her arm seized by Yeon-hee, Yuyu was with her as well.
“H-How are you two…”
When I spoke with a shaky voice, Yeon-hee gave a dismissive snort and replied.
“I caught this stalker snooping outside.”
“I-I’m not a stalker, I’m…!”
Dragging the teary-eyed Yuyu, Yeon-hee walked towards us.
“…It’s been a long time since we got together in one place like this.” Said Yeon-hee as she looked around. At her words, Yuyu and Ka-ryeon looked at each other as well.
Come to think of it, it was the first time seeing these three girls in the same place since Saturday.
“Oppa, let’s put an end to this.”
Yeon-hee turned her gaze to me .
“Put an end…?”
“I gave uncle Muhyeok a call during lunchtime today and asked him. This broad was the one who stole your notes, right?”
The call he got right before I left the counseling room was from Yeon-hee!?
“Hey stalker, tell the truth why you approached my brother.”
“If you don’t come clean, I’m going to tell him what really happened that day.”
What really happened that day?
I had no idea what they were talking about. Seeing how Ka-ryeon was tilting her head, she didn’t know either.
“O-Okay. I’ll come clean, so don’t tell him…!”
However, it seemed like it was a big deal for Yuyu; on the verge of crying, she was begging Yeon-hee.
“Then tell the truth.”
Pushed in the back by Yeon-hee, Yuyu stumbled to a stop before me. She looked up at my face, but she bit her lips and lowered her head right away.
“What’s going on, Yuyu…?”
“Did you approach me… to bring down my grades? So that you can become the school’s top student?”
I looked at Yuyu in disbelief. Ka-ryeon and Yeon-hee were watching her quietly.
Yuyu, who had shrunk away and fallen silent, slowly raised her head at last.
“…That’s right. The reason why I approached you was to steal the first place from you.” Yuyu said with an expression as though she had given up everything.
“I was upset the whole time during the first year. I had always been the top student in middle school, but after entering high school, I could only get second place because of you. Every time I saw my name written below yours on the results board, I felt like I was going mad.”
Her subdued voice echoed inside the silent café.
“I kept observing you after we became classmates in the second year. I was curious as to what kind of a boy you were, and I wanted to find out your secret to maintaining first place if you had one.”
Stunned, I could only stare at her. Ka-ryeon looked on with a calm expression and Yeon-hee watched with a cold look on her face.
“But strangely enough, I started to feel unpleasant as I kept watching you. Although I was conscious of you to such degree, I wasn’t even a subject of interest to you.” Said Yuyu, smiling bitterly.
I certainly wasn’t the type to take particular interest in others. I probably wouldn’t have cared if there was a top ranking student in the same class.
“That’s why I started hindering you.”
Yuyu had a smile on her face as she spoke those words. Yet I saw in clear view the tear drops from her eyes trickling down her cheeks.
Were they tears of regret, or did they have a different meaning?
“Although I say that, it wasn’t like I did something serious. Stuff like bumping into your desk as I pass by when you’re studying— it was that sort of childish interference. Probably it didn’t bother you at all.”
Inside a classroom, it was common for wandering students to bump into desks. I wouldn’t have been really bothered if Yuyu had bumped into mine.
“Then one day, I saw a notebook fall out of your bag while I was peeking at you from behind in the hallway. When I picked it up just to be sure, it was organized with the materials you’ve studied. Looking at its contents, I knew right away that the notebook was very important to you.”
Yuyu looked at her hands as though she were holding that notebook now.
“But you came back; maybe you noticed that you dropped it. Startled, I ran away. I should have gave it back to you right there, but I couldn’t.”
Then she feebly lowered her hands.
“I thought you didn’t realize that I had picked up your notebook. Hoping that your grades would drop because you lost your important notebook, I didn’t give it back to you the next day and the day after next. …But my heart grew heavy as time passed.”
Like what the homeroom teacher told me, I had known that Yuyu was the one who took my notebook. I wonder why I had not asked Yuyu to give it back.
“So I finally decided to give the notebook back to you. I had even thought of excuses in case you inquired why I had it. But then, you… told me I can keep the notebook if I needed it, as if you didn’t think much of it.” Yuyu put on a smile. “Hearing that, I got really angry. Why are you so relaxed? Are you looking down on me? I felt like I was seriously ignored. I was angry at you even though I was the one who had done wrong.”
Then, smiling in sorrow, Yuyu…
“I felt that I had to get one up on you for my anger to go away. So I…”
Shed a drop of tear once more.
“Made up my mind to make you fall head over heels in love with me, then… dump you at the end, and drop your grades completely.” Said Yuyu in a weary voice. “So I told you about the Audiovisual Reference Prep Room that had been my personal study. Then using the course materials that I received from the academy as bait, I lured you in.”
Although her face was tinged with shame, Yuyu was unable to lower her head.
“Then, seeing that the time was right, I confessed to you. I asked you to go out with me.”
Her face was close to bursting out in tears.
“I was turned down in the end, though…”
Among the voices I’ve heard from Yuyu, this one was the most heartbroken of them all.
“B-But, you see, Glasses, I…”
At that moment, Yeon-hee, who had been listening without a word, cut her off.
“Now you understand, right? This girl is a liar who was pretending to be your girlfriend when she wasn’t even in a relationship with you. Moreover, with an impure motive.”
“Wait, I still have more to…”
While browbeating the confused Yuyu, Yeon-hee turned her attention to me.
“Oppa, I’ll tell you what I’ve found out a little while ago.”
With her expression changing greatly, Yuyu sprang towards Yeon-hee.
“Y-You said you won’t tell him…!”
“It’s the reason why you’ve become amnesic.” Said Yeon-hee, shoving Yuyu away. “Do you know the cause behind the car accident?”
“I got a call in the afternoon from the driver who hit you asking about your condition. I had the opportunity to hear the exact account of the accident from him.”
“N-No! Don’t tell him…!”
Desperately, Yuyu tried to cover her mouth; however, Yeon-hee quickly dodged her.
“Just before a schoolgirl who was on a crosswalk on a red light was about to get struck by the car, you threw yourself and pushed her out of the way, and got hit by the car in her place.”
After saying that, Yeon-hee cast a cold gaze toward Yuyu.
“That schoolgirl was you, wasn’t it? You were also the first one to call for an ambulance.”
I looked at Yuyu with a feeling of disbelief. Her face had turned pale and she was shaking like a leaf.
“Yet you’re flirting with my brother while lying to him, hiding that fact… It’s all your fault that my brother got into a car accident and lost his memory…!” Yelled Yeon-hee, unable to hold back her rage.
The moment Yuyu heard those words, she turned her back from us.
She had reached her limit.
Yuyu ran out of the store. Although I couldn’t see her face, it was easy to guess that she had burst into tears from the looks of her back.
“Oppa, don’t chase after her!” exclaimed Yeon-hee in a sharp voice, “There is no reason at all for you to care about her. Everything had been amiss. We must turn everything back the way they were.”
“What do you mean the way they were…”
Then Yeon-hee, who had maintained her silence, opened her mouth.
“Isn’t this taking it too far?”
Yeon-hee gave Ka-ryeon a dirty look, but she paid no attention to it and spoke in a calm voice.
“You have only forced Miss Yuyu out with your accusations. Do you think this is right?”
“Then are you saying what she was right?!”
Without replying to Yeon-hee’s question, Ka-ryeon turned her gaze towards me.
“Sunbae, are you going to resent the person you threw yourself to save? Rebuke her for having gotten into a car accident in her place?”
“You’re not that kind of person. This matter would’ve been over with Miss Yuyu’s thanks and apology, but Miss Yeon-hee led the conversation astray.” Ka-ryeon continued, “And about how Miss Yuyu approached you to bring down your grades, that’s most likely not…”
“Hmph, I see that the two liars are on the same side.”
“You’re also a liar. I know everything.”
At those words, the expression on Ka-ryeon’s face vanished.
“What do you mean?”
Yeon-hee pulled out a single key from her pocket.
It was the key to the front door of our home.
“I took this from the girl who left just now. Apparently she got it from you.”
That must be the key that Ka-ryeon and Yuyu used to open the door on Saturday night and Tuesday morning, respectively.
“This key has a sticker mark on the end, meaning it originally belonged to my brother. It’s the original, not a copy that my brother gave to you as his fiancée.”
Yeon-hee turned her attention to me.
“Oppa, do you have the house key on you right now?”
I left home earlier and returned home later than Yeon-hee. Since there was no real need for me to use the key, I usually kept it in the desk drawer.
“The key wasn’t in the spot that my brother always leaves it at as well. So that means it’s not a copy that my brother has either. There has always been one key and it was never copied.”
“…And that matters because?”
“You’ve said that you have the key because you’re his fiancée, but that’s a lie. It just happened to fall into your hand for you to show as a proof of your legitimacy.”
Surprised, I looked at Ka-ryeon. Was she lying to me, too?
“…Maybe your brother just gave me the key that he had.”
“The very key that he has to use? What if a situation comes up where he needs it? I’d understand if he had let you borrow it for a moment, but how does that prove that you’re his fiancée?”
Perhaps something was bothering Ka-ryeon’s conscience; she wasn’t able to respond clearly.
“Maybe you stole the key from my brother.”
“…I beg your pardon?”
“Ahh, now I get it. You were trying to steal our family fortune, weren’t you? You were going to sneak in with the key and run off with our inheritance.”
The moment those words reached Ka-ryeon, her expression became as cold as ice.
“…If that’s how you want to play, I have something to say also.”
“Oh really? You do?”
To Yeon-hee who was scoffing, Ka-ryeon spoke in a frigid voice:
“The DNA test that said you two weren’t blood-related is a lie, isn’t it?”
This time it was Yeon-hee’s turn to shut her mouth.
“W-What do you mean? I saw the printout of the results with my own eyes…”
“She forged it, though I don’t know how.” Ka-ryeon explained calmly. “I should have personally called the place you went to get tested to confirm. It was a mistake moving on after just seeing the results.”
“…What are you talking about?” Yeon-hee replied in a shaky voice. “On what basis are you saying I forged it?!”
“Miss Yeon-hee’s mistake was her lack of knowledge of DNA testing. Of course I only learned about it after doing some research myself.” Then Ka-ryeon asked, “Sunbae, your father has already passed away long ago, right?”
“In this situation, it’s impossible to tell if you and Miss Yeon-hee have the same father. Even DNA testing is of no use.”
“If you two were brothers, it would’ve been possible to tell if you have the same father with just the genes from the two of you since men have the exact same Y chromosome as their father. However, since women don’t have Y chromosome, you can’t find out the paternal lineage through DNA testing with a brother and a sister.”
I opened my eyes wide and looked at Yeon-hee. She was looking this way with a pale face.
“So… it was a lie? How we weren’t related by blood?”
When I asked her, Yeon-hee bit her lips and lowered her head.
“…I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“It’s true that mom was cheating on him. Even before and after the marriage, she was seeing another man. That’s what was written in the diary.” Yeon-hee stumbled over her words. “So there’s sufficient possibility that I may not be dad’s biological daughter.”
“Then that means there’s also definitely the possibility that you’re related by blood!” Unable to hold back, I shouted. “If it can’t be even confirmed through DNA testing, there’s no telling if we’re blood-related or not! How could you do such things despite knowing I might be your biological brother?!
“…Don’t worry, Sunbae. It’s probably a lie that you two crossed the line.”
At that moment, I heard Ka-ryeon’s voice.
“Miss Yeon-hee told a lie because she didn’t want to lose you to us… to me and Miss Yuyu.” Looking at Yeon-hee, Ka-ryeon spoke. “Right?”
Yeon-hee didn’t reply. However, that silence verified Ka-ryeon’s remark.
I see. We haven’t made an irreversible mistake.
That’s good, I’m glad but…
“Still, you… tried to seduce me."
“We’re lucky that nothing happened. If I had lost self-control and embraced you…”
Just the thought was terrifying.
“Just what… were you even thinking…?”
Yeon-hee couldn’t say anything. With a pale face, she hung her head and bit her lips hard
Finding it difficult to stand straight, I leaned against the counter.
The plate of cold spaghetti remained on the counter, but I no longer had the appetite to finish it.
“Just who are you girls? Were each and every one of you deceiving me?”
Covering my face with the palm of my hand, I coughed out the words in a weary voice.
“Why me? I’m a boring person who knows nothing but studying with no interest in girls. Why are you doing all this stuff to me? No, perhaps because I am that type of person, I was easy to deceive and swindle.”
“Sunbae, please w—”
“Enough, I don’t want to hear it anymore.” Although Ka-ryeon tried to speak to me in a hurry, I curtly cut her off. “It’s a lie that you’re my fiancée, anyway.”
Ka-ryeon didn’t respond.
It was just as I thought. I had never accepted her.
“…Give me the key.” I took the key from Yeon-hee’s hand. “Sorry but I’m leaving now. …Tell the Manageress that I’m taking an early leave. And I might not be coming in tomorrow.”
I might not even come in from now on.
“Sunbae, please wait a moment.”
Brushing aside their voices calling out to me, I got out of the store.
I looked up at the sky with mixed emotions.
Unlike yesterday, it wasn’t currently raining. I could really use some rain right now.
The not-so-everyday-life that went on for four days straight since Monday. Thinking how great it’d be if I could erase those days where everything was fake, I started walking my way back home.
It seems like I’m not going to get any studying done today as well.