The basketball hall was full of people like usual. A group of cheerleaders gathered at one side, yelling their cheers for the boys practicing at the field. As Mr. Coach blew his whistle, signaling break time, the girls in sync started to sing Happy Birthday song. A girl with red hair band and the broadest smile on her face went to the front with her both hand holding a black forest cake.
“Jinwoon-ah, happy birthday!” she said.
Wiping his running down sweats, Jinwoon approached the girls. “Wow, girls, you don’t have to do this.”
“This is nothing, Oppa!” said the brown-haired girl on the left of the girl holding the cake.
“Yeah, we practically do this for the other members on their birthdays too.”
“Come on, Jinwoon, make a wish and blow the candles!”
Jinwoon closed his eyes for a good second then blew the candles gently. The girls—except the one who was holding the cake—clapped happily. The brown-haired girl handed him knife.
“Thanks, Sohee. Hmm, whom should I give the first slice?” Jinwoon looked at the girls’ faces, examined which one showed more expectations.
“Me! Give it to me, Oppa!”
“Yah, Sunmi, why on earth Jinwoon Oppa should give the first slice to you?” Sohee glared the other girl.
“Oh, stop, you two! And you, Jung Jinwoon, I don’t care whomever you’ll give it but please just make it quick, I can’t stand it anymore~ Can’t you see my hands trembling?” The girl who seemed to be the oldest between the three whined. “Or just give it to me. I did quite much for this surprise.” She winked.
Jinwoon laughed. “Oh, really? What did you do, Nicole?” he teased her.
“Oh come on, Jung Jinwoon~ This cake is not as light as feather!” Nicole protested.
“Fine, fine.” Jinwoon lifted the knife and carefully cut the cake into some slices. He took a slice and feed it to Nicole. “First slice is to beautiful Nicole who had work very hard to hold the cake~”
“Yah! Why do you—“
“Say ‘ah~’, Cola~” Jinwoon shoved it to her mouth to cut her.
“Aaaawwwwww~~ Nicole Onni, you’re so lucky!” Sohee cooed.
“Oppa, feed me too! I want you to feed me!” Sunmi pleaded.
Nicole chomped the cake clumsily before she yelled again at Jinwoon. “Jung Jinwoon what was—“
“Kim Jooyeong! Where are you?! Oh, Jinwoon, you’re having another birthday party here.” Seulin, who had just stormed in the basketball hall, joined them. “Hi Nicole.” She greeted her.
“Yo, Seulin.” Nicole greeted back. “Jung Jinwoon, why don’t you take this cake from my hand? I’m getting numb here!” she whined.
Jinwoon did as Nicole instructed. “Want some, Seulin?” he offered.
“Oh, no, thanks, I’m not hungry now.”
“Hey, it’s not you’re hungry or not; you have to eat. I don’t remember seeing you in the cafeteria on lunch time. I bet you haven’t had lunch.”
Seulin grinned at his accurate bet. She took a slice and started to bite it without much word.
“By the way, Oppa. This is for you.” Sunmi handed a small box.
Sohee followed her friend and took out her present. “This is for you too, Jinwoon Oppa.”
“A moment, please. I’ll hand the cake to the boys first.”
Jinwoon’s teammates cheered immediately seeing the cake, moreover because Mr. Coach agreed to extend the break for them enjoying the cake.
“And this is for you from me, Jinwoon-ah.” Nicole handed her present.
“Unwrap them, Oppa!”
Birthday present#2: Basketball-related clothes and accessories.
Sunmi’s present was mobile strap with two mini rubber basketballs and his name written on the balls. Sohee’s was headband and hand band which came in a set. He put them on right away. Sohee couldn’t hide her blush while Sunmi kept praising that the strap really matched his mobile phone.
“You don’t open Nicole’s present?” Seulin raised a brow.
“Hey, Cola, this is not a prank, isn’t it?” He shook Nicole’s present. It was much bigger than Sohee’s present. “Last time you wrapped your presents in hundred layers of newspaper so it looked as big as the shoe box, but actually it was only a headband.”
“No I swear it’s not! I didn’t have much time to do that, actually, hahaha. Just open it.”
Jinwoon tore the wrapping paper roughly and opened the box quickly. He gasped when he realized what it was.
“The replica of Yunho Oppa’s uniform when he was first awarded as MVP on National Basketball Competition for High school.” Nicole said proudly. “I hope by wearing this shirt, you’ll get some more extra power and motivation to win on the next competition, just like when he won that MVP.”
“How did you manage to get this?” Jinwoon asked in disbelief.
“Thanks to Yunho Oppa.” Nicole smiled sheepishly. “It was because him willing to go through all his old uniforms I’m able to create the replica. By the way, it is really exactly the same as Yunho Oppa’s, except for the name written on it. I have your name instead of Yunho Oppa’s.”
Jinwoon was at loss of words. “Wow, Cola… Really, thank you very much.”
“Onni, you’re so cool! How can you think of giving Oppa something like this?” Sunmi nudged Nicole.
Nicole pushed Sunmi’s head playfully. “Because I’m smarter than you, Mimi.”
Sunmi pouted in instant. “Onni!” she whined.
Sohee’s phone rang, causing the three girls to jump in surprise. “Oh, it’s Sunye Onni! She must be mad because we’ve gone too long!” Sohee didn’t dare to answer her phone.
“Don’t answer. Let’s just go back there.” Nicole instructed. “Jinwoon-ah, Seulin-ah, we got to go now, see you later!” she waved and led the other two running back to their practice room.
“They sneaked out from their practice? Tsk tsk. So typical Nicole.” Seulin shook her head. “You don’t go back to your team?” she tilted her head facing Jinwoon.
Jinwoon glanced at his team. Mr. Coach hadn’t come back and his friends were still enjoying the break. “Mr. Coach is still outside the hall.” He shrugged. “Oh yeah, by the way, why did you come here at the first place, Seulin? Looking for Jooyeong?”
“Yeah.” Seulin answered while examining people in the hall. “He didn’t come to practice?”
Jinwoon nodded. “He texted me earlier, saying he had things to take care so he couldn’t come to practice today.”
Seulin groaned. “He told you but he didn’t tell me!”
Jinwoon raised his brow. “Why? What’s up?”
“Remember that Student Council wants to make a joint event for Children Day and Parents Day on May 6? Jooyeong and I are responsible for the Carnations which will be used that day. We are taking care of Carnations that students planted for that event. Today we supposed to do some routine check at the green house.” Seulin explained. “Well, he ran away from his task again today, I’ll make sure he’ll pay at the next Student Council meeting.” She folded her arms. “I should go then. Bye, Jinwoon.”
Jinwoon held her wrist. “Wait! I’ll help you with the Carnations. I’ll go there after my practice over. It should be over in half an hour.”
Seulin’s eyes widened. “Really? Thanks a lot, Jinwoon!”
“Never mind. That’s what friends are for, right?” He tapped her shoulder lightly. “I better back to practice now. Wait for me, okay?”
Seulin nodded. She watched Jinwoon joining his teammates and getting teased because of the girls’ presents. She heard they admiring Nicole’s present (because it’s the replica of the Great Captain Yunho’s old uniform) and saw his smile. That same smile.
Suddenly her eyes sparkled, and she left the hall silently.
Little Jinwoon ran happily. He opened the main door of his house, said his greeting, and asked their maid where his father was. After getting the answer he had predicted before, he skipped to his father’s working room.
“Daddy, are you busy?” Jinwoon popped only his head first. He saw his father was dealing with some papers.
“Oh, you have come back, Jinwoon.” Mr. Jung put off his glasses. “Come in.” he gestured. Jinwoon obeyed and sat on the seat in front of him. He was very excited on telling his father what he wanted to tell, but his father had spoken before he could open his mouth.
“I heard your basketball team had a match last Saturday?”
Jinwoon nodded. “Yes. We won the game and we made it to the final.”
Mr. Jung’s face lightened. “Really? That’s great, Jinwoon! Congratulations!”
“Thank you, Dad.” Jinwoon felt his heart became warm. They might not be able to have decent conversations every day; most of them were just simple ‘Hi, Dad’, ‘Oh, how are you Jinwoon?’ ‘Where are you going?’, ‘Have you done your homework?’, or ‘Have you had your dinner?’. But he had his own way on expressing his love to his children, and every time he’s showing it, Jinwoon couldn’t help but feel his sincere care. That made him wanted to do everything needed to make his father proud of him in return.
Suddenly the door was knocked. Yunho stepped in with big smile plastered on his face and his hand holding a medal. He was still in his basketball uniform which was drenched wet. “Hi Dad; hello Jinwoon.”
“Oh, Yunho! I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it to your final match today.”
“That’s okay Dad.” Yunho pulled out his hand holding the medal in front of his father. Mr. Jung took the medal and read what’s written on it carefully.
“MVP?!” Mr. Jung shouted in disbelief. Yunho nodded. Mr. Jung rose from his seat and went to give his eldest son a hug.
“This is great! Jung Yunho, you are great! I’m so proud of you, my son!” Mr. Jung released him and ruffled his wet hair.
“Thank you, Dad.”
Jinwoon rose from his seat to congratulate his brother. “Congratulations, Hyung!” he hugged him too.
Mr. Jung realized a band on Yunho’s arm. “Don’t tell me you are also the Captain today?”
Yunho grinned ear to ear. “Yeah. It was kind of sudden decision; our Captain unexpectedly sprained his ankle when the game had just started for ten minutes.”
“That’s very fortunate.” Mr. Jung hurriedly added, “I mean, it’s sad that your captain sprained his ankle, but thanks to it, you have the chance to prove your ability. That’s very fortunate, right?”
“Yeah, Hyung, and now you got the MVP medal too, you look absolutely cool!” Jinwoon gave his two thumbs up.
“Ah, right! Yunho, last year you attended an intensive basketball course on summer, didn’t you?”
“Yes. What’s up, Dad?”
“I’m thinking on putting Jinwoon in the course. He can join it, can’t he?”
Jinwoon froze hearing his father’s words.
“Well… There’s no age limitation, so I guess… Yeah, it won’t be a problem. But why suddenly… I mean, Jinwoon is now taking basketball seriously? I thought you like music more.” Yunho frowned, staring at his motionless brother.
“What are you talking about, Yunho? Jinwoon is as serious as you are in basketball!” Mr. Jung put his arm on Jinwoon’s shoulder. “His team made it to final on a junior competition.” He smiled proudly. “He may surpass you one day, who knows.” He added jokingly.
Yunho raised both his brows. “Wow, that’s cool too, Jinwoon!” He punched his shoulder lightly.
“Jinwoon, when and where is the final? I may be able to clear my schedule that day.” Mr. Jung went back to his desk and took his journal.
“It’s next Saturday at our school’s sports hall.”
Mr. Jung flipped through pages, read his schedule and nodded in satisfaction. “Fine. I can put off my schedule on Saturday.” He looked straight to his son’s face. “I’ll be there to watch you, Jinwoon.”
“Me too! Should we go together, Dad?”
That’s it. He couldn’t disappoint him—them.
His dream could wait.
Jinwoon walked to his class weakly. He had just stepped into the class when Seulin called him.
“Jinwoon, look! My parents agree and I have completed all documents needed. Have you done yours? Maybe we could deliver them together directly to their office. The deadline is in two days, and the office is not too far from our school so I guess deliver the documents directly will be better.” Seulin showed a brown envelope.
“I’m afraid you have to go alone, Seulin.” Jinwoon said calmly.
“But if you want, I can accompany you there.”
Seulin frowned. “No, wait—what do you mean? I don’t get it.”
Jinwoon faced her and tried to smile. “I’m not joining that music course, Seulin.”
Seulin’s eyes widened. She was totally surprised. “Why?” She almost screamed. “You were so excited when we found out about the course, much more excited than me!”
“I’m joining an intensive basketball course this summer. The one Yunho Hyung attended last year.” He said, still with that smile on his face.
Seulin’s frown grew deeper. “Since when you want to do basketball that seriously, Jung Jinwoon? Music is your dream. You want to be a great guitarist like—“
“Seulin,” Jinwoon cut her, “I want to be a great basketball player, at least like Yunho Hyung.”