“Key! Please help me find him! You and I both know that you know practically everyone in town!’ I was whining to my best friend. Yes, me, whining!
Key huffed- again. “Tell me, Choi, why should I help you find this kid?”
“Because we’re best friends!’ Key glared at me, “And because I know that you hate my aegyo and if you don’t help me, I will use aegyo everytime you see me.” I began pouting- I know this will work!
“Did you just threaten me with your dreadful aegyo?” He sounded disbelieving, but I refused to stop pouting! “Gah! Fine. I’ll help you! But in return, you’re treating me to lunch at my favorite breakfast and lunch place.”
I sigh, knowing Key, this place wasn’t going to be cheap- but I had to see that guy again! “Fine.”
Key jumped- literally- and grabbed my wrist pulling me along, “Let’s go!”
He lead me down the streets eventually stopping at a little cafe-sized building at the corner of Flaxton and Market.
“This is your favorite breakfast and lunch place?” It didn’t seem to terribly impressive to me- strange.
“For the atmosphere! The workers are so interesting!”
“Oh… okay.” Sometimes, Key is just a little too strange…
We entered the shop, Key was being clingy. He grabbed my arm and tugged on it hoping to pull me forward to the counter we were supposed to order at. Honestly, he can be really annoying with his clingy attitude. I looked up at the person who would take our order. His short blonde hair had a slight wave in it, and his eyes looked really familiar- It was the boy from the other day!
“‘Morning! What can I get for you today?” He smiled. I don’t know what it is about this boy, but I feel drawn to him.
It took a moment, but I realized that Key had taken the liberty of placing both of our orders without consulting with me first. I heard him babbling away to the blonde male without taking a breath. The male responded with little positive remarks like, “okay,” and “alright.” When Key finally stopped talking, the blonde boy looked up and eyed both of us.
“Is that everything?”
I glanced at the name tag sitting on his chest, it read “Taemin.” I felt the name suited him, Taemin, the guy who saved me the other day. I looked at as much of him as I could- he didn’t seem like the type to get involved with gangs, how did he know so much about those guys then? Oh well, I guess I’m not supposed to know…
“Yes, thank you.” Key spoke again. I came back to reality and didn’t realize what exchange had occured, so I stuck to giving a nod and smiling.
I looked into his eyes and… If I’m not wrong, there was a bit of recognition in his them. Did he recognize me? That would be so… neat!
Key and I went to the register, I paid for the entire meal and we went to a nearby table.
“Key! You’re a genius! You’re definitely my best friend ever!”
“Of course I’m a genius, everyone knows that! But, what did I do this time?”
There was confusion written all over his face, so I pointed to Taemin and looked at Key, “That’s the guy from the other day!”
“Minnie? Minnie is the guy from the other day?” The nickname threw me off for a moment, but I still chose to respond.
“Yeah, he’s the one that kind of, sort of, umm… rescued me from a gang.” I smiled sheepishly.
Anger flared in Key’s eyes, “You put my son in danger! And now you want to stalk him?!”
I froze, “WHAT?! Your son?” Then Key’s last sentence clicked in my head, “Wait! I’m not stalking him!”
“Fine, you aren’t stalking him. You were just asking for my assistance in locating him because you can’t do it on your own.”
“Whatever, Key.” I rolled my eyes, “Now, what did you mean by your son?”
“Key-umma!” Taemin was coming over to us with our order.
“Hey, Minnie. How’s work going?”
“Well. I’m about to take my break though, is it alright if I join you and-“
“Minho. I’m Choi Minho.”
“Hello Minho!” He smiled at me before turning to Key again, “So can I join you and Minho-ssi?”
“Of course, Minnie!”
Taemin placed our order down on the table and happily walked off, unconsciously swaying his hips a little bit. As soon as he was out of sight behind the counter, Key turned to me.
“You.” He pointed at me, “You’ve met him, but I warn you- stay back! He does not need any more drama in his life and I’m sure that adding someone like you in it would not be helpful.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Key sighed, “What I’m about to tell you can NOT be repeated.”
“Okay.” What choice did I have? I want to know about Taemin, but Key was being over-protective all of a sudden.
“Taemin is the oldest child of four. He has three younger siblings, two in elementary school and one who just entered kindergarten. Last year, his father had an affair and left the family, leaving them to fend for themselves. Shortly after their father left, their mother fell ill and it left her unable to work. As the oldest child, Taemin decided to drop out of school and took on three part-time jobs and takes care of his family then, in the late hours of the night, he teaches himself. Minnie hopes to go back to school and get his G.E.D. So, as his friend and step-in umma, I have helped him and his siblings out as much as possible during the last year. I have seen the different stages of depression Taemin has gone through and honestly, my son doesn’t need anything else to happen in his life.”
“So wait, every time you disappeared because you were ‘just helping your family’ you were just helping Taemin? why didn’t you say anything sooner? I may not have known Taemin, but I would be more than willing to help.”
“I know, I know, but- he’s my son!”
“Alright, alright! Just, I’ll be helping to from now on, okay?”
I looked at him disbelief, “Why not?”
“Because Taeminnie doesn’t want people to know about his situation. He’d kill me for even uttering a word about it to you!” Key pouted- the ALMIGHTY KEY pouted!
“Fine, just- let me help quietly?” Just then Taemin came around the corner carrying a plate of food.
“We’ll talk about this later!” Key whispered to me before turning to Taemin. “Minnie! How long is your break?”
“Half an hour! I’m glad you came just in time for me to join you for lunch! It’s much better than eating alone!” The smile on his face shone so brightly it nearly blinded me. I never would have guessed what he goes through on a daily basis.
“If you want Minnie, we can set it up so that either Minho or I will always be here so that you don’t have to eat lunch alone.” Key offered.
My jaw almost dropped- Key just volunteered me for that and didn’t even bother checking with me if it was okay… not that I have any problems with it. It’s just that it was Key who volunteered me. Something was strange here… Or was this an agreement to me silently helping? Aish! Key makes things so frustrating sometimes…
“Really? I don’t want you guys going out of your way… but it’d be nice to take my break with my Key-umma or with Minho-hyung.” He looked at me when he said that, like he wasn’t sure if he could call me hyung.