"You are nagging me, Natalie! It's quite probable that you did but it's all the same to me... You are just tired and nervous. Go take a nap"


Something heavy dropping down next to Natalie woke her up.
"You sleep like a log!"
She rubbed her eyes and gave Hyunjin a seemingly angry look.
"You scared me!"

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He smiled sweetly.

"I'm not sorry, ya know. Also dinner's ready."
Natalie smiled back now.
"Oh, good news! I can eat an elephant right now!"
"And I can eat a whale! Hurry up!"
A noodles smell was wafting. They jumped from the sofa and ran to the kitchen.

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The whole cheerful company was present: eating, laughing, smacking.

Somebody brought two empty chairs for the newly-arrived.

The gang was giving Chan an account for everything that was done that day. He, seized with laughter, almost fell from his chair.
"Oh my god, you are all so defenceless without me! Boys chasing Natalie, you having a narrow escape..."
" We escaped even so" ,replied Felix proudly.
Hyunjin nodded еnergetically.
"Mhm, with only three shots!"
Jeongin looked sadly at his torn jeans.
"And my trousers..."
Еverybody bursted into laughter.
"Don't cryyyy, I'm gonna sew them up" ,assured him Natalie.
After the laughter died away, Chan started giving orders for tonight.
Natalie stopped listening. She finded their affairs boring because Chan had explicitly forbidden her to meddle into the business. She knew only what Hyunjin used to tell her secretly at night and still it was enough for a whole crime film...
She pondered and started rumbling absently with her fork.

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Hyunjin looked curiously at her.

" Hey, what's wrong? You're trifling with your food."
"I'm worried about school. A year gap is no joke..."

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Han choked on his food and gave her a look of indignation from the other side of the table.

"Are you understimating my knowledge or what?! I had a hell of a time with you a whole year but I thought you everything I've learned!"
Han was the only one with a secondary education and was very proud of himself.
Natalie smiled at him.

" I know, Han, and you can't imagine how thankful I am! But I'm not sure that it was enough..."
Changbin rolled his eyes.
"Oh, calm down,please! The others haven't become geniuses in a year! You are going to manage, I'm sure."
Natalie sighed.
"Okayy, I know that you can't understand me but It's hard not to worry! New school, no acquaintances.."
"No one forces you after all!", snapped at her Chan."You want to continue studying. I don't understand why though... Felix can't count to hundred and still fights better than our "educated"."

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Han choked on his food again and punched Chan with his fist.

Natalie shrugged.
"It's boring to socialize only with you..."

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Chan lifted his eyebrows. His face darkened.

"Oh... So we are the old boring friends now? I thought our company is not that obnoxious to you."
The girl felt upset.
"Chan! Don't twist my words! i just wanted to say that since you don't let me work with you, it will be nice to take up my time with something new..."
Chan banged one's fist on the table.
"We are starting this discussion again! You will NEVER work with us! You hardly steal noodles from the supermarket! What if someone shoots you? For me and for all the others that will be the last straw!"
Natalie stood up abruptly and left the kitchen. The boys heard her banging the door.
"What's wrong with her today?", asked Hyunjin concernedly.
Chan sat back on the chair.
"Ugh... God only knows... Once I send her to do something and she returns with a mental breakdown!"

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Seungmin stirred uncomfortably and cried: "Let's play cards!"

The others looked at him thankfully, jumped from their chairs, threw the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and sat around the cleaned table.
Chan started riffling the deck.

"I'm suspicious that your luck at cards is not a pure chance...", noted Han while looking at his nimble fingers with surprise.

Chan smiled inscrutably.

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"The winner's not washing dishes the next two weeks.", shouted Jeongin.
"It is worth it", grinned Chan and started dealing tha cards.

Soon Natalie felt sick and tired of sitting alone in the other room. She sneaked back into the kitchen and huddled against Chan. The boys exchanged meaningful glances. The atmosphere livened...


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The music was blasting. Mark filled another glas with wine and looked around with blurred eyes. Everything seemed a motley mixture of lights and voices.

"Hyuuung, let's play billiards!", sounded Chenle's voice somewhere near.
Mark didn't reply.
"I don't think he feels like doing something right now, Chenle", answered another voice which Mark failed to recognize.
"Ugh... too much people", thought he.
A dark figure approached him. He saw the face of the "black" girl.
"Who are you actually? You are so cute!", asked he and smiled.
A surprised expression appeared on the girl's face and it suddenly turned into Lukas's.
"Mark, it's me, Lucas. You've drunk too much wine..."

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Mark sighed and let oneself on the floor.

"Oh, it's you, friend... I'm probably a little bit drunk cuz' everything's moving...Please, help me reach my bedroom."
Four strong hands dragged him to his bed...

to be continued