“Are you okay?” the twenty-two years old me asked. I could see my own breath while I spoke. I wasn't surprised. It was freezing outside.
The guy on the floor flushed with embarrassment. Maybe I should have pretended I never saw him slip on the ice just a second ago while I was leaving the convenient store that evening. He quickly nodded and scrambled to his feet. He kept covering his mouth to hide his embarrassment.
“I-I’m fine, thank you,” he assured me in his deep Osaka accent. He cast me a smile to show his appreciation.
My breath hitched. Looking at him closely, I realised how good-looking he was. His laughter line showed on his cheeks when he smiled. His warm chocolaty eyes were reflecting my own image on his orbs. His long black hair was slightly ruffled.
“Erm... okay then,” I managed to squeak out. I was about to walk away when I finally noticed the tear on his trousers and my eyes widened. I could see his black boxers. A blush rose on my cheeks. “Erm...” I paused. How am I meant to tell him there is a tear on his trousers? He had already been embarrassed enough.
“Yes?” his velvety voice nearly took me into a starry-daze.
I gulped audibly. Although it was cold and I was now shivering, I pulled off my scarf that was wrapped around my neck and held it out for him. “Here,” I said.
He looked at me in confusion. “It’s okay. I’m fine. You should worry about yourself. You’re shivering.”
I could handle cold but I could never handle embarrassment. I shoved the scarf onto his reluctant hands. “You definitely need it.” I nodded my head towards the tear.
He slowly looked down. I watched as his eyes widened as if it was about to pop out of the socket and how he was turning a few shades of darker. He quickly wrapped my scarf around his waist covering the tear. He refused to meet my eyes afterwards.
I bit the bottom of my lips before a smile could form. I couldn't help but think how cute he looked.
“T-thanks,” he stammered. And then without another word, he sprinted down the street despite the snow covered pavement and the fact that he might slip again. He disappeared around the corner and out of my sight.
We met again a few days later. The snow had cleared up but it was still cold outside that I was covered up head to toe. He was working behind a bar serving some girls drinks who were eying him up oblivious to him.
I was forced to come out that night by a few of my friends who I haven’t seen for a while as work took most of my time. I was a manager of a grand hotel. It was easy to get to the position quickly as I have done my masters in business. My friends began tugging on my coat, hat and scarf, complaining for me to take it off since I was inside. I complied before they stripped me themselves.
“Wow, who’s the hottie?” Christine asked, eyeing the bartender. “I haven’t seen him around.”
Bam crossed her legs and leaned back as she seized him up as if he was a piece of meat on display. “He must be new.”
I leaned forward and covered her eyes with my hand. “Aren’t you too young to say that?”
She swatted my hand away and peered to stare at him again. She was grinning now. “You’re too late. After seeing Jaejoong seven years ago, my eyes have already lost its virginity.”
Jess nearly choked on the drink she was sipping slowly at the mention of ‘virginity’. “When is he coming back to Tokyo?” she asked when she regained her composure. “It’s been awhile since he left for his country.”
Bam’s face fell suddenly. Tears welled on the corner of her eyes. “After following him for seven years I couldn't follow him to Korea! He wouldn't take me!”
I frowned. “Aren’t you guys dating?”
Christine jaws dropped. She looked at me as if the question was taboo. I didn't understand until Bam threw her arms around Jessie, who was beside her, and wailed.
“We’re not dating!” she cried out. “If we were do you think I’d be here moping with you guys?”
“We’re meant to be moping?” I wondered out loud.
“Jaejoong Oppa still hasn’t responded to my confession,” my friend went on.
“Well, since he hasn’t rejected you, that means you still have a chance,” I pointed out hoping to stop her crying.
“You’re absolutely right! He must like me if he hasn’t rejected me.”
I nodded in agreement although I had no clue if he actually liked her or not. I just knew I didn't want to hear her whining and crying over some guy.
Jessie sighed. “Talking about the guy you like, reminds me of Hangeng,” she solemnly said and letting out another heavy sigh.
I have really weird friends. Bam was going after a Korean guy while Jessie was dating Hangeng, a Chinese guy. They had a long distance relationship but I got the feeling Jessie was waiting for Hangeng to ask her to move.
While the two had someone they liked, Christine and me were single ladies. We haven’t yet fallen for someone like our friends.
“Hey, Ayu, go get us another round of drinks,” Christine ordered lightly.
The three wanted the same drinks. I walked up to the bar slowly. My eyes glued on the bartender who was working diligently and ignoring the girls attempt to flirt with him. Once I got to the bar and slid onto one of the stools, he finally looked up but when he recognised me he gasped. The bottle of vodka that was on his hand slipped and fell on the floor. The sound of glass breaking was covered by the sound of the music blasting around the club.
He quickly bent down only to bang his head on the table.
“Ouch,” I winced at the thought of the pain he must be in. “Are you okay?”
“Y-yeah,” he said, rubbing his forehead. He managed to squat down this time without hurting himself. He slowly picked up the broken glasses. It took him a while to sweep it up. “So, what can I get you?”
A smile tugged on the corner of my lips. He was flustered with embarrassment again that I found so cute. I gave him my order and waited.
“So...” I began. In the corner of my eyes I could see the other girls glaring at me for keeping his attention longer than they could. “When am I going to get my scarf back?”
He gulped. “Ah, sorry, it’s at home.”
I pouted. “That’s the scarf my late grandmother made me. My poor grandmother wasted so much time just to make it for me.”
I noticed how he immediately felt guilty. “I’m so sorry! I didn't know and I ran off like that without taking your information on how to return it.”
Seeing him panicking sent me into a fit of laughter. He just stared at me in confusion.
“I was lying,” I admitted. “Couldn't help but pull your leg. Sorry.”
His face fell. “I’ve embarrassed myself like crazy and you’re here teasing me. That’s not fair!”
At first I thought he was angry but looking into his warm eyes, I couldn't see any anger in it. “Well, it’s because you ran off like that that I couldn't help it,” I pointed out.
I turned around on my stool to look over at my friends. They were staring back at me with an amused and surprised look. Urgh, they probably thought I was flirting with him just like the girls. I quickly took the tray with the four drinks and headed back only to hear their teases.