11 |nine|

"Where are you going?" MinJi asks as she glances at me from the couch.

"Out." I mumble, well aware that shes going to question my honesty. I don't go 'out'. It's just not something that's part of my nature.

"Honestly, I don't care either way. I'm going to bed. Don't forget your phone." MinJi turns the tv off and picks up MinSung before heading toward her room.

I lower my guard and check my sweatshirt pocket for my phone and headphones. I slip into the hall and close the door behind me with a quiet thud. I listen closely in hopes of ensuring that they're fast asleep before tiptoeing passed their apartment.

The last thing I want is to run into them again. It's only been three hours since the whole ordeal went down. I need at least a whole day before I even think of showing my face in front of them again. However, right now I don't have much of a choice. I can't breathe. I feel trapped. I have to get out.

I hit the elevator button and step back. I don't want to be too close if someone is coming up. The last thing I need is another anxiety attack because someone's arm brushed against me.

"I swear I didn't do it. It had to have been SeungMi—" JiSung stops talking the moment the elevator doors creep open to reveal me. I can sense the tension in the air.

"Ari!" HyunJin smiles brightly as he hurries out of the elevator to stand beside me. He doesn't get too close, my anxiety attack earlier must've made them take a step back and reanalyze their approach to me.

"How are you feeling? We're really sorry about earlier. We didn't mean to overwhelm you. We're just used to being loud and all over the place." ChangBin explains as he stands on my left.

"Guys, we should leave her alone. She's probably little worked up still. Come on." JiSung tries to pull the other two away, but they brush him off. They want an answer, and they won't leave without one.

"It's fine. I'm fine." I mumble as I rub at my arm. I can feel my cheeks heating up. They're not really close, yet they're close enough to make me feel like I have no escape.

"You're coming outside a lot recently." JiSung mumbles as he gives in and settles in beside HyunJin.

"What do you mean?" I brush the other two off and direct my attention to him. He seems hostile. Did I do something wrong?

"I mean—we've lived across from each other for how long and we're just now running into each other. We should've ran into each other a lot more before all of this." JiSung shrugs before spinning on his heel and heading toward their dorm.

I did something wrong, didn't I? Was it something I did or something I didn't do? Should I have said something that didn't come to mind? Should I have not said anything at all? I don't know how this type of thing works. How do you make friends? How do you face people younger than you that you've cherished for years?

"Ignore him, he's in a mood." HyunJin waves JiSung off and looks at me.

"I just moved back recently—I was living on the university campus." I mumble, just loud enough that JiSung should be able to hear me.

I truly don't want to hide anything, but if he's going to be hostile, I feel like I might have to. If he thinks I should've been out and about more, will he be able to accept that I just can't do that? I can't go out during the day and mess around like everyone else. It's just too much for me.

"University? What did you study?" ChangBin questions.

"Education." I state awkwardly as I watch JiSung struggle to decide what to do. He looks like he wants to storm off annoyed, but his body is shifted slightly toward us.

"Really? You want to be a teacher? What grade?" HyunJin joins in on the unexpected round of 20 questions.

"I—I don't know. I was thinking lower elementary—like kindergarten or first grade. I want to teach English." I explain as I brush my bangs out of my face.

"Have you applied anywhere? They'd be lucky to have a teacher like you." HyunJin smiles brightly.

"I have one class left, but I took a break. Somethings happened and I just needed some time—" I glance toward JiSung in hopes of finding a way out. I hope they don't ask why I needed a break. That's the last thing I want to tell them about. They don't need to know. It could change the way they feel about me.

"When do you plan on finishing? If you want to teach English, maybe we can talk JYP into giving you a tutor job. You may not be working with little kids, but you'll get to work with us." ChangBin chirps as he wraps his arms around HyunJin,

"I don't know. I'm not even sure if I'm going to." I mumble softly. I really don't know how I'll do as a teacher. I don't do well around people. The kids won't be a problem, it's their parents that'll get to me.

"You should. You would be amazing." HyunJin scrunches his nose up as he glances down at his phone.

"Chan's looking for us. We should go. We'll see you later." ChangBin quickly brings the unexpected conversation to an end.

The two wave before hurrying toward their apartment. JiSung lingers a few feet away from me. He scratches at the back of his neck as he glances from me to the others. He makes his way toward me and takes my hand in his. He drags me into the elevator.

"JiSung—" ChangBin spins around in search of JiSung as the doors creep shut.

"He'll tell Chan and Chan will call me. It's not a big deal." JiSung says as he senses the concern on my face.

I stare down at our intertwined hands. My heart races uncontrollably as I close my eyes tightly. The feeling of his warm hand in mine is more than enough to make my arms tingle. I don't want to pull away. That's rude, right? I don't want to come across as rude.

"Why don't you want to finish your last class?" JiSung turns to me, seemingly unaware that he's still holding my hand.

"I—I'm scared." I let the truth slip from my lips. I told my parents I just needed some time to analyze my new diagnosis.

"What are you scared of? I'm sure you'll do amazing." JiSung examines my face for a glimpse of information.

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"I thought I could do more than I can." I shrug as I finally gain the confidence to pull my hand away from his.

"It's just one class. You can do it. It can't take that much to finish." JiSung motions me out of the elevator.

"It's not the class—I could pass the class pretty easily. It's something else—nothing important though—anxiety. It's my anxiety." I try to shift the blame onto something easy and well known about me.

"I know how anxiety is, but shouldn't you fight it? You can't let it win." JiSung and I slip out of the building. He claims my hand once again and helps me down the icy stairs.

"I—I can't tell you the truth." I shake my head as my hands begin to tremble. Being with him isn't that bad, it's the fact that I'm hiding so much from him. I can't tell him a lot of things and it's starting to eat me alive.

I write letters to him telling him everything going on in my life, but I don't send them. They sit in a box under my bed. Once a letter is sealed, I don't touch it. It stays there. It's my way of getting everything off my chest.

"You don't have to, but I'm willing to listen if and when you're ready." JiSung uses the sleeve of his jacket to wipe off the snow on a bench.

"I want to tell you. I feel like I can trust you, but I don't want to regret it." I swallow hard as I sit down on the bench.

"I won't tell a soul." JiSung smiles as he sits down beside me. He's a little closer than I'd like, but with all the snow, there isn't much either of us can do.

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