“Your majesty, please reconsider your decision.”
The king pouts. “But I really, really wanna experience living like an ordinary person. And home schooling is way too boring at my age.”
The elder advisor sighs. “If this is what you really want, then this is what you shall get, my king.”
“Yay! I’ll start packing now,” the king cheers while clapping his hands in glee.
“You must keep this an absolute secret. I am trusting you with my life—and the king’s life.”
The principal smiles. “Don’t worry. You can trust me to keep a secret. But if I were to keep this a secret, you can’t breathe down my neck every time something happens to your king. This is a high school after all.”
“Of course. I understand. I have explained it to the king as well, although I don’t think he truly understands.”
“Very well then. Your king will join us as an ordinary transfer student. We will say he is from another country—which isn’t technically a lie. Do we use his real name?”
The elder advisor nods. “Yes. His name isn’t uncommon so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Alright. Kim Taehyuk it is. How are his grades? If he is going to join us as an ordinary student, we can’t put him in the top class if his grades don’t meet the requirement. No special privileges.”
“The king isn’t expecting any special treatment. To be honest, he’s not the most brilliant student but he could probably just make it into the top class.”
“Send me his academic records and I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thank you. I appreciate it, Yongmin.”
“Principal Gim Yongmin.”
“Yes, you will be going to his school. Soo Man High. It is a private high school and you will be in a good class so you must study hard there.”
“I will. I promise I will be a good boy, Grandpa Kim.”
The elder advisor half chuckles and sighs. “You’re unstoppable. Don’t be too cheeky in this school. And please, don’t get into trouble.”
That night, King Taehyuk lies awake in bed, excited and anxious for the morning to come. He can’t wait to see his new school and meet new friends. Hugging his favourite green peas bolster, he smiles as he closes his eyes. Sleeping will make the next morning arrive sooner.
“Is that my new school?” Kim Taehyuk speaks into the headset’s microphone attached to his safety helmet.
The elder advisor looks down at the majestic buildings of copper-red bricks and nods. “Yes, my king, that’s your new school.”
“Wow, it looks great even from all the way up here.”
“It is very nice and grand. Some of the richest kids are studying in it so their parents contribute a lot of money to the school. So, are you sure you don’t want to land directly in your new school? It would be a nice entrance to make for a king.”
Kim Taehyuk shakes his head. “No. If I enter that way, everyone will know I’m someone special. I don’t want to attract that kind of attention.”
“As you wish, my king,” the elder advisor says with a sigh.
Kim Taehyuk pats his advisor’s arm. “Don’t worry, Grandpa Kim. I’ll take good care of myself in school. And I really will study hard.”
Stepping out of his helicopter with his backpack, Kim Taehyuk takes a look around his surroundings. It is the nearest helipad to his new school but he still has to take a car to cover the rest of the way. He has other ideas about this, however. Rejecting the limousine that Advisor Kim has prepared for him, he insists on taking the bus despite Advisor Kim’s protests and walks out of the helicopter hangar to the bus stop indicated on his GPS app on his mobile phone.
“My Kin—Kim Taehyuk. Do you even know which bus to take?” Advisor Kim asks.
“Of course. Bus 39. Here it comes,” Kim Taehyuk smiles and points at the approaching bus. “If you don’t believe me, you can ask the driver.”
Advisor Kim sighs for the hundredth time this morning as he steps forward to the curb. “I’ll trust you on this.”
Kim Taehyuk pulls his advisor back. Shaking his head, his golden bangs brush across his eyebrows, some strands hanging over his eyes as he speaks, “I’m taking the bus by myself. I’m already eighteen this year.”
“Are you sure?”
Kim Taehyuk nods. “I’m very sure.”
Digging into his little pouch of coins, Kim Taehyuk pays the bus fare and looks for a seat. He walks to the back of the bus towards the last seat available. A girl has taken the inner seat so he takes the outer half and puts his backpack on his lap. Taking out his notebook, Kim Taehyuk takes another look at the welcome letter the school sent him. It says to report at the office of administration to complete the paperwork required before he will be brought to his new class. Kim Taehyuk shivers with excitement. This is the best decision he has ever made in his life.
A weight dropping on his right shoulder surprises him. It is the sleeping girl’s head. The bus has been making a few turns and she must have leaned to the left and fallen onto his shoulder. Kim Taehyuk smiles. It is weird and a little uncomfortable to have a strange girl sleeping on his shoulder but he figures she needs the sleep. Looking down, he notices her uniform. It seems to have the same colours as his. Does she go to the same school then?
A few stops later, Kim Taehyuk wonders if he should wake the girl up. He probably should—but how?
“Er, excuse me. Hello? It’s time to wake up,” he says softly, poking her arm with a tentative finger.
She merely scrounges her face up and adjusts her head a little, never opening her eyes. He begins to worry as the school is just two stops away now.
“Miss, please wake up. I have to get off soon.” He tries to jiggle his shoulder but it doesn’t work. She’s still sleeping. The next stop is the deadline and Kim Taehyuk is anxious. He can’t think of any other way by now so he gives her a rude shake. “Miss! Wake up!” he says, louder than he planned to, and the girl finally opens her eyes. She stares at him for a moment blinking. “Hi,” he says, attempting a smile but she sits up straight, looking away. Then, before he can say or do anything, she stands abruptly.
“Excuse me,” she says, so he stands too and lets her step out towards the door. He follows behind her, getting off the bus and walking up the pavement towards the school. They are steps away from the school gate when she whirls around, her expression fierce. “Why are you following me? Just because I fell asleep on your shoulder doesn’t mean you can stalk me.”
Kim Taehyuk blinks, shocked by her outburst. “Er, I’m just going to school,” he manages to reply, pointing at the school ahead. Only then does she seem to notice his school uniform.
“Oh.” She bites her lip. “Sorry.” Then, without saying anything more, she turns around and runs into the school like a bullet, leaving him to bite the dust.
How weird is that, Kim Taehyuk thinks as he walks into the school. The girl has disappeared amongst the students milling around the compound. Then he remembers where he needs to go and what he needs to do and forgets all about the strange girl who slept on his shoulder . . .
Until he steps into his new class. There she is again, the first person he notices. The same bright eyes and long black hair. He stares for a moment before clearing his throat and turning to the teacher standing at the whiteboard. With a respectful bow, he introduces himself as a new transfer student.
“My name is Kim Taehyuk but you can call me Taeng. I prefer it that way,” he says to the class full of eyes staring at him, making him nervous. He tries to smile nonetheless and the teacher smiles too.
“I am your form teacher. You can call me Mr Lee.”
“Yes, Mr Lee.”
Mr Lee smiles and nods at the class. “Seo Juhyuk. You will be in charge of showing our new classmate around after classes.”
A tall boy with a mock of raven-black hair stands and adjusts his round spectacles before speaking, “I am sorry, Mr Lee. I have to attend the student committee’s meeting right after school.”
“Ah, I see. That’s alright then. Hwang Miyoung?”
Kim Taehyuk’s eyes widen when the girl who was sleeping on his shoulder stands, her cheeks looking as though they’ve been thoroughly pinched.
“Since Juhyuk is busy, you will do us the favour.”
“Yes, Mr Lee.”
“That’s settled then.” Mr Lee smiles at Kim Taehyuk again. “Your seat is beside Miyoung.”
Kim Taehyuk’s jaw loosens slightly. “Huh?”
“Hwang Miyoung, our class monitress. Don’t worry. You’re in good hands.”