The Coward In Love
It was late at night. School would begin in just a few hours. Still, Daehyun couldn’t fall asleep. On the other bed Jongup was already in dreamland. But Daehyun kept tossing and turning in his bed. Finally he couldn’t take it anymore and sat up in bed. *I can’t do this. I need some air.*
Daehyun grabbed his mask and left the bedroom. He saw light streaming from the staircase.
*Is someone still up?* Daehyun placed the mask over his mouth and nose and went downstairs.
The light was coming from the kitchen. Curious, he went inside and stopped.
You were in there cleaning out the refrigerator.
His expression softened seeing you stack all the sidedishes back into the refrigerator. *What is she doing not sleeping? Shouldn’t she be in dreamland with her ‘boyfriend’?*
You noticed a presence behind you and turned your head. “Umma!” You jumped at the figure in the shadow. Daehyun stepped into the light. You put a hand over your chest and sighed in relief, “Daehyun oppa, it’s just you. You scared me!”
Daehyun ignored you and walked to the refrigerator. He yanked open the small latch where the water was. You glanced at the clock. It was near 3 in the morning. “What are you doing up? Shouldn’t you be asleep?”
Daehyun kicked the refrigerator and gave you a stern look. ‘What about you? Who the hell cleans refrigerators in the middle of the night?’
“For your information, I couldn’t sleep.” You stuck your tongue out. It was quiet for a few seconds. Then you revealed, “The thought of having a boyfriend…scares me.”
Daehyun stopped drinking and looked at you.
Your fingers nervously tapped the counter. “I’ve never had a boyfriend before. I can’t believe I have one now. This is so weird. How am I supposed to face him tomorrow? Do I act differently around him now?” Daehyun continued to stare at you. *If you’re so scared, why did you say yes to him?*
You knew what he wanted to ask and answered without him probing you. “I don’t know why I said yes. I just did. I mean, I like Zico oppa. He’s sweet. He cares for me. He makes me laugh. But at that moment when he asked me I couldn’t just say no so I said yes.”
*So you’re with him out of pity?!* Daehyun’s heart ignited with hope once again.
“Does that…make me a bad girl?” You looked up at him.
Daehyun’s eyes were soft and gentle. *Never, Yeojin. You’ve always been good and that’s your problem now. You’re too nice to say no to make them unhappy.*
You shook your head with a smile, “Forget it. It’s done and over with. I better go to bed now or you’ll be the one waking me up tomorrow. Good night, oppa!” You waved and headed to the stairs.
Daehyun’s heart beat loudly. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. *Now, you fool. You always lose the timing. Are you going to stand back and watch her be with another guy when she doesn’t even have feelings for him? What if she ends up really falling for him? What are you going to do then? You’ll have no one to blame but yourself then.* Panic squeezed his chest. Without even thinking anymore, Daehyun blurted, “YEOJIN!”
You froze. *Am I hearing things? Did I just hear…Daehyun oppa call my name?*
Slowly, you turned around. You expected Daehyun to give you a strange look but instead he actually spoke to you. His words were muffled but nonetheless he was still speaking. “…Are you going to actually go through with this?”
You hadn’t heard him talk in 5 years. And the first words out of his mouth were that? You snapped out of the initial shock and warily spoke, “Go through with what?”
Daehyun turned around to face you. Looking straight at you, he slipped his mask off.
Your eyes widened and you rubbed them to see if you were hallucinating. *Am I dreaming? Daehyun oppa is talking AND he took off his mask!*
“…Are you going to date Zico?” Daehyun asked. His voice was soothing and tender like velvet. Your knees became slightly weak *I never knew his voice sounded…so nice. The last time I heard his voice, it was high-pitched. The wonders of puberty.*
“Are you?” He questioned.
You gave him a confused look, “I told you I said yes to him-“
“But you don’t even like him.” Daehyun growled in frustration.
“I like him!” You defensively burst, “Just…” You looked away and mumbled, “Not that way. Yet.”
“Who are you kidding, Song Yeojin? You don’t love him and you probably never will. You’re with him for the wrong reason. You think he likes being pitied? Trust me. No guy likes that.” Daehyun snarled.
You furrowed your eyebrows at his quick accusation. *Who is he to chide me like that? He hasn’t spoken in the last 5 years and the first thing he tells me is that I’m wrong? What happened to Mr. I-don’t-give-a-damn-about-anything.* “It’s my business, not yours. I’ll deal with it my way.” You turned to go.
*That’s it. It’s fine if I’m the only one having a hard time but I can’t let her hurt the both of us.* Daehyun strode towards you. He grabbed your arm, spun you around, and pinned you against the wall. Your eyes widened at the abrupt aggressiveness. Daehyun had never treated you like this before. He was the one boy in the family who avoided all contact with you.
You struggled, “Let go-“
Daehyun pinned your shoulders to the wall and came down to your level. The fierceness in his eyes was frightening yet beautiful. You couldn’t help but notice all his facial features. Your eyes lingered on his jaw near his lips. *He’s so handsome. I don’t know why he would hide his face. It’s perfect just the way it is.*
“Quit faking it. You’re hurting everyone.”
You stopped thinking about how handsome he was and grew defensive at once. “Why are you saying all these things to me now?! Me? Hurtful? You’re the one to talk!”
“What are you talking about?” He growled.
“Oh so you didn’t notice how you shut all of us out of your life?! How you hid behind your mask and wouldn’t tell us anything!” You sarcastically bit. All the frustrations you had pent up in your chest finally spilled out, “All these years you haven’t made conversation with any of us! I tried so hard, Daehyun oppa, to get you to talk to me. I tried so hard to interact with you. I wanted to get closer to you. I wanted to understand you. I wanted you to lean on me! I let you know that I was always there for you and that you can open up to me! But all you did was push me away. Do you know how much that affected me?” Tears welled up in your eyes. “I wanted to see your face…I wanted to hear your voice…I wanted you to be happy.”
Daehyun softened *Shit. Please don’t cry because of me. God, I’m an asshole.”
You sniffled and wiped your tears away, “Forget it. At least Zico oppa doesn’t ignore me.” You felt his fingertips stiffen on your shoulder. “He talks to me. He tries to make me laugh. He got me a White Day gift. He makes an effort to actually get to know me.”
Daehyun twitched. *STUPID YEOJIN! I DON’T HAVE TO MAKE AN EFFORT TO GET TO KNOW YOU! I ALREADY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!* He wanted to scream those words loudly to your face.
“So whatever I do with Zico oppa, don’t mind. He lets me make him happy, unlike you.” You turned to go but Daehyun kept you there. “YOU IDIOT! THIS ISN’T ABOUT ME OR ZICO! THIS IS ABOUT YOU! YOU DON’T EVEN LOVE HIM! DON’T RUIN YOUR LIFE BECAUSE OF ME-“
“I’M NOT! I’M DOING WHAT I FEEL IS RIGHT!” You shot back. The both of you glared at each other.
Daehyun gripped your shoulders tightly and said through his gritted teeth, “I’m serious, Song Yeojin. Don’t do this to yourself.” *Don’t do this to me.*
“And I’m serious, too, Daehyun oppa. I know what I’m doing. I’m not the little girl who was lost in the orphanage anymore. I’m grown up now and I can make my own decisions.” You boldly lifted your chin and looked into his eyes, “So don’t tell me what to do when you haven’t been talking to me all along.” His face fell. “Go back and hide underneath your mask, like you always did.” You grumbled. “You’re a coward, oppa. A big coward.” You pushed his chest and ran upstairs.
Daehyun stood there, dumbfounded.
You ran into your room and burst into tears. *Stupid Daehyun oppa. Why come to me now? Why couldn’t you say it in a nicer way that you don’t want me to be with Zico? You were always like that. You always thought of me as a stupid, immature little girl.*
*I can’t believe she’s going to go through with this. Relationships aren’t a joke! You should only be with someone if you love them! Why can’t you realize that I love you, Yeojin?! I don’t want you to be with Zico because of me! I wantyou withme! Not him! Not any other guy!* Daehyun pounded his fist into the wall, causing a dent to appear in the wallpaper. He winced.
Not because of the physical pain in his bleeding fist but because of the emotional pain he was feeling in his busted heart.
*Love hurts. And yet, I don’t want to give up on her. I can’t. No matter how much my heart bleeds, I’ll keep clinging onto her. I’m such a fool.*
Daehyun sank onto his knees and lowered his head in shame.
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