Asking for such a request as friends was, of course, most people would accept.
“But it’s because he doesn’t see me as a friend…”
Juri hadn’t confessed to anyone, but she always had feelings for Ryu Min.
Initially, when she first laid eyes on him, he didn’t pique her interest.
He seemed unassuming, quietly blending into the background without drawing attention.
But then fate intervened, and she stumbled upon a scene she never expected.
Ryu Min being harassed by Hwang Yongmin’s gang in the narrow alley.
“At that moment, I couldn’t muster the courage to step in. I could only report it to the police… He probably still doesn’t know it was me,” she thought.
And he likely never would.
She had stood by, merely observing as the police arrived and took control, not daring to intervene.
Since then, Juri had secretly trailed Ryu Min.
“I wonder what I was thinking back then…”
Was it out of empathy?
Or perhaps a sense of duty as the informant?
“Now that I reflect on it, it was for both reasons.”
Juri’s intent was twofold: to ensure Ryu Min safely reached home and to report any reoccurrence of the gang if they were to appear again.
But then something unexpected happened.
Ryu Min nonchalantly entered a small butcher shop tucked away in the back alley, brushing off his pants.
Observing him work there, seemingly at ease, Juri came to a realization.
“He’s strong. There’s more to him than meets the eye.”
Despite his unassuming and fragile exterior, his inner strength surpassed anyone’s expectations.
That was Ryu Min, her friend, and that was how he carried on with life.
“That’s when my interest in Ryu Min began.”
During breaks, she discreetly observed what Ryu Min did, and sometimes, on the way home, she secretly followed his path.
In the process, she unintentionally discovered he had a younger brother and witnessed a side of him she hadn’t seen before.
“They seem to have a great relationship.”
Seeing Ryu Min’s care for his younger brother sparked an even greater interest in him.
Yet, despite trailing him, encountering the gang multiple times, and even reporting them again, Juri couldn’t summon the courage to step forward.
“…I lacked courage.”
She could only silently watch from a distance and offer support when needed.
If only she had possessed the bravery to speak up sooner.
“But it’s too late now. My feelings for him have grown too strong to ignore…”
Coincidental interest had transformed into genuine affection.
Observing Ryu Min’s unwavering strength, like a steadfast tree, evoked both admiration and a racing heart.
But her lack of courage prevented her from initiating a conversation.
“Still, I wanted to talk to him before graduation…”
Perhaps it was being in the presence of someone she liked, but things never went as planned.
Being busy helping her father and working at the convenience store left no opportunity for them to connect.
“Little did I expect to meet him here.”
She could never have imagined encountering her secret crush at the convenience store.
And she certainly never anticipated him taking the initiative to ask for her number.
“It was surprising. I never expected him to be so assertive in claiming our friendship…”
Her own impulse hadn’t deceived her.
Despite his unassuming and fragile appearance, he possessed a personality that defied timidity.
And there were even more surprises to come.
“I can’t believe he really didn’t know my name…?”
Even though we hadn’t had many chances to talk as friends, isn’t it too much to not know a classmate’s name?
Is it possible to be so disinterested in someone?
It subtly hurt her pride.
“He can’t remember my face, huh? Well, I’ll make sure to leave a lasting impression.”
Under the pretext of being friends, she would imprint her face in his memory.
To ensure he wouldn’t forget her.
She will stay in touch, making sure her presence was etched into his mind.
To ensure he wouldn’t forget her name, nor her face.
“Now is the time to gather my courage and put in more effort. This is an opportunity gifted to me by destiny.”
In the past, she missed her chance due to lack of bravery, but not this time.
She couldn’t let go of the chance to grow closer to Ryu Min, the person she admired.
“I’m so curious. How did he spend his vacation? Is he still being bullied by the gang? How did he win the lottery? Is it easy to catch goblins? How much did his level increase?”
It was regrettable that they hadn’t had many conversations, but all of this will change now.
Ryu Min’s number was conveniently saved on her phone.
“He can’t pretend like he doesn’t know me now, especially after this incident.”
Though she wanted to return the money, since he wouldn’t accept it, she decided to consider it a debt.
“That way, I can use the ten million won as an excuse to continue contacting him.”
A delightful smile graced Juri’s lips.
[Juri: Have you eaten yet? I have something to tell you. Can we meet around 1 o’clock? I’ll treat you to lunch!]
[Ryu Min: Sure, let’s meet. I’ll treat you.]
[Juri: No, no, I insist on treating. Hehe.]
[Ryu Min: I have money, haha.]
[Juri: That doesn’t mean you should take advantage. What do you like?]
[Ryu Min: Me? What about you?]
[Juri: I’m fine with anything, so choose something you like.]
Ryu Min, exchanging messages with Juri, smirked.
“As expected, she wants to treat me first, thinking of it as a debt.”
It was a positive sign.
By continuing to engage with Juri like this and naturally building a bond, she could become an ally.
“In the past, I didn’t pay enough attention to her, but not this time. I’ll find a way to save Juri, no matter what.”
Up to the Round 20.
“It’s about time.”
Checking the clock, Ryu Min changed into his casual clothing.
His younger brother asked, “Where are you going, hyung?”
“To meet a friend.”
“Is it a girl, by any chance?”
Ryu Min smirked at his brother’s baffled expression.
“I’ll have lunch outside, so you can eat by yourself. You have the card I gave you, right?”
“Alright, then I’m off.”
As Ryu Min left, Ryu Won murmured softly by the entrance.
“Could it be… a potential romantic interest?”
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