The Whole World Stops (But My Stare Is The One You Notice)

The Whole World Stops (But My Stare Is The One You Notice)
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“You want me to what-?”

 

(Sometimes Wendy really wanted to have a sit down with God.)

 

WooHee clasped her hands together, eyes widening into a (horrific) puppy look as she continued to try and convince Wendy.

 

“Just this once! Please!”

 

(Pour out some tea. Maybe have some crumpets.

 

It was a thing, right? Tea and crumpets.

 

Or was that biscuits?

 

Cookies?)

 

Wendy pulled a face at her friend, watching as the older girl bowed down low, hands in a prayer position above her head.

 

“That doesn’t even make sense! Just skip the class, we’re in college for a reason!”

 

(Maybe some macaroons. Everyone liked sweet things, right?)

 

WooHee shook her head, which in turn made her entire body shake, giving Wendy the impression of a very weird looking bobble head doll.

 

“Please! Today is the only day I’ll get to go and see Serri practice! Do it for happy endings and love!”

 

(Decorate the table with fine china. Maybe a candle. Or would that be weird?)

 

“And I repeat, just skip the class!”

 

WooHee looked up, eyes shimmering behind dark bangs.

 

“They have participation points. And I need those points because of the dean’s list, you know- And and, if I don’t make the dean’s list, they are going to take me off priority-”

 

Wendy put her hand up to stop WooHee’s rant, very well aware that if she was left unchecked, Wendy would not only make a decision that would be troublesome for herself but also end up consoling a WooHee who had just made herself emotional.

 

But WooHee showed no sign of stopping, her back now straightened as she continued to wave her arms around passionately.

 

“And I would’ve just skipped like you said but the professor discovered the existence of electronic clickers which means I have to be in class clicking at answers, even though they are wrong most of the time but it’s fine because participation.”

 

“WooHee-”

 

“And it’s quite a lot and would definitely affect my grade in class and I know it’s a lot to ask of you but it’s your free period and I’m begging you, please, just go to this one class for me so I can go watch Serri swing a golf club and look y.”

 

She ended the rant with her hands clasped in front of her like a prayer, eyes filled with tears and mouth pulled down at the corners.

 

(Wendy can already feel the bad decision forming.)

 

Sighing, Wendy folded her arms across her chest and looked at WooHee, eyebrow twitching at the small smile pulling at the corner of the older girl’s lips.

 

(Truly, tea time with God would be great.

 

Then she would be able to ask-)

 

“Fine. Just this one class. And only because I have a free period now.”

 

She could barely hear WooHee’s whoop of gratitude as the dark haired girl was already sprinting off into the distance, shouting over her shoulder and barely missing the wall as she turned sharply.

 

“Thanks, Wendy! I owe you one!”

 

Wendy sighed again, knocking her temple gently as she pondered her dilemma. She gathered her books in her arms and made her way lazily towards WooHee’s class (who in the world decides to take Physics as an elective), mentally pondering how she would pass off as WooHee when WooHee was at least a head taller than her.

 

*

 

“Well, I don’t have to worry about the height dilemma now.”

 

Wendy eyed the lecture hall, taking in the sight of the majestic room as she plucked a clicker from the box offered by the teaching assistant, signing off (very badly) as WooHee. Climbing up the stairs, she allowed herself some envy at the size of the place, knowing her music major would never place her in such a space.

 

(Science majors get all the good spaces.)

 

She got a spot right in the middle, not too in the back that she can’t see the board or the projector screen and not too up front of invite any unnecessary attention from the professor. Grinning at her own brilliance, Wendy wriggled in her chair happily and took out her tablet, planning to at least look up some of the questions that came up.

 

A soft giggle from her right caught her attention.

 

She turned her head, opening to say hello-

 

And her jaw promptly stayed on the floor, eyes widening comically as she took in the owner of said giggle.

 

The girl (fairy? Angel? Goddess?!) laughed again at her expression and shook her head, wind bells chiming in Wendy’s ears when she started speaking.

 

“You must be really excited for class, huh?”

 

She tilted her head to one side, Wendy hurriedly shutting (and cutting off any drool that may have made an appearance) and nodding her head frantically, eager to cover up her sudden lack of brain activity in the past few seconds.

 

“Yeah huh! Physics! I mean, wow, right?”

 

(How can someone be that pretty?)

 

The girl laughed again, covering her smile with her (dainty) hands before returning back to her notes. Wendy took in a deep breath and pressed a hand to her heart, patting her chest to calm her racing heart down.

 

(Really?

 

You see a pretty girl and just lose all brain function?)

 

Luckily for Wendy, she was saved from any further embarrassment by the dimming of lights, an indication that the lecture was about to start. She fumbled with the clicker in her hands and turned her tablet on, tapping on her chrome application.

 

(Search bar, lock and loaded.)

 

And promptly spent the next twenty minutes in a haze as equations and numbers popped up on the screen, barely understood due to a lack of exercise since high school. She blinked rapidly as her ears registered the words uttered by the professor as foreign, almost missing out the clicker question if it weren’t for the gentle prod on her arm.

 

The girl, with a soft smile, pointed at the screen with her own clicker and whispered softly, the sheer melody of her voice sending Wendy’s already mushy brain into a spiral.

 

“Hey, you might want to click before he changes the screen.”

 

Nodding, Wendy turned her head back towards the screen and clicked at a random answer, just right before the professor changed the slide to the poll that had the results. She sighed in relief and turned back towards the girl, mentally berating at herself not to stutter as she said her thanks.

 

“T-thanks for that. I totally missed it.”

 

She laughed again, sending Wendy into yet another panic as she struggled to inhale in the presence of sheer beauty.

 

“Don’t worry about it. You were concentrating so hard that you missed it and it was kind of cute.”

 

(Cute!

 

The goddess called her cute!!)

 

Wendy cleared hurriedly, rubbing at the back of her neck as she responded shakily.

 

“H-hah, no. It’s just- You know, physics! Takes a lot of brain power.”

 

She quirked a smile and pointed at the screen again, shaking her clicker once to emphasise her point.

 

“You’re going to miss another question.”

 

Wendy whipped back towards the front of the class and pressed randomly again, once again cutting it close as the professor changed to the poll in the very next second. Sighing, she resolved to pay attention (and not get distracted by the girl, no matter how pretty she was) lest WooHee lose her participation points.

 

(Bae WooHee owed her a truckload of ice cream after this.)

 

She managed to pay enough attention to not miss any more clicker questions, letting out of breath when the lights turned back on, the professor clapping her hands to gain the attention of the students who were suddenly very active, a flurry of activity as everyone packed their things away in anticipation of the end of class.

 

“Class! Some announcements, thank you!”

 

A soft tug on Wendy’s sleeve had her turning around, the pretty girl smiling at her gently as she held out the clicker Wendy left on the table.

 

“I think you’re forgetting something.”

 

The silent again didn’t go unnoticed.

 

Letting out a huge laugh, the music major took the clicker from the other girl sheepishly, stammering excuses that probably didn’t make sense.

 

“S-sorry! You know how it is, the rush- Next class-”

 

The girl merely shook her head with a wide smile.

 

“Don’t worry about it.”

 

But her hand was still extended, leaving Wendy to flounder and wonder as to what else she had forgotten in the span of ten seconds. The other girl, perhaps taking pity on her, waved it slightly, before speaking again, soft and gentle as though she was talking to an anxious puppy.

 

(Which might not have been a bad comparison, considering her mental state right now.

 

It should be illegal to be that pretty.)

 

“I’m Irene, what’s about you?”

 

Wendy fumbled between the clicker, her bag and Irene’s hand, ending up using the same hand Irene was holding out to shake.

 

Oh god.

 

“H-hi, I’m Wendy, you pleased me- I mean, pleased to meet you!”

 

Kill me now.

 

Irene laughed again, her other hand coming up to cover that smile.

 

“You’re honestly really cute.”

 

(Dear God, why is it that you always have me in difficult situations like this.)

 

Her eyes twinkled with mirth as she asked gently, her voice kind and soft as though she was talking to a frightened animal.

 

(If Wendy had a mirror, she was probably doing a very accurate impression of a shell shocked chipmunk.)

 

“I’m guessing you didn’t hear a thing the professor was saying about the in class group project we’re supposed to be doing next week?”

 

Wendy blinked, searched her memory for such an announcement and found nothing but angels singing in harmony every time her brain directed her to that small quirk at the corner of Irene’s lips, slanting down into pink-

 

Focus, Wendy.

 

“Nope, not a thing. I’m totally out of it today.”

 

(Foot, meet mouth.)

 

The smile quirked higher on one side, a smirk that should not be as attractive as it is on Irene and the other girl shook her head, brown eyes like molten gold peering up at her from beneath eyelashes that hid nothing and everything .

 

(It should be illegal to be that gorgeous.)

 

“Well, do you want to work together for it? It’s twenty percent of our grade and looking at how distracted you are, I feel like I should extend a helping hand.”

 

Irene smiled again, tilting her head to one side and Wendy’s explanation died at the back of , her brain completely forgetting that this was not even her class. The brunette nodded dumbly, shooting Irene a dazed grin as she agreed. Irene laughed again (angel harmony cue) and nodded, reaching out to grasp at Wendy’s forearm.

 

“Alright! See you next week!”

 

It wasn’t until Wendy was walking back towards her dorm room, a goofy smile on her face, that her brain booted back online.

 

And her face immediately met with a wall, the young musician wailing at the skies while her dorm mates shuffled around her without care, already used to her daily antics.

 

“Why must you do this to me, God?!”

 

*

 

Predictably, Joy had burst out laughing like a deranged chicken, coupled with her rolling on the ground as she howled at Wendy’s misfortune. Yeri soon joined her on the floor, the youngest of the group beating the tiles with both fists, barely breathing due to how hard she was laughing. Only Seulgi, with an effort befitting even Wonder Woman, remained (somewhat) calm, lips pulled in between her teeth in an attempt to stop laughing.

 

Wendy sighed.

 

“Are you guys done?”

 

Joy and Yeri took another look at her and promptly burst out into another fit of laughter. Seulgi’s nostrils flared but otherwise, the other girl maintained her composure, only prying open to question Wendy with a shaky voice.

 

“How on earth are you going to do the group project together? You’re terrible at physics.”

 

Wendy groaned and dropped her face into her hands.

 

“She already knows. I kind of spaced out during the class and she probably thinks I’m sort of lazy bum who took the class assuming it was easy.”

 

Seulgi grimaced.

 

“What an impression.”

 

Joy, after dying of laughter for what seemed to be forever, straightened up and offered a piece of advice.

 

“You could always just track her down and explain it to her.”

 

Wendy shot her a look.

 

“Explain how?”

 

Widening her eyes, Joy clasped at Yeri’s hands, simpering disgustingly as she blinked rapidly.

 

“Oh, dear beautiful one, I am afraid I cannot do this project with you because I do not go to this class. I couldn’t explain it to you because I’m a useless lesbian and only recently recovered my brain that flew away when I saw your smile.”

 

Yeri, the little that she was, immediately followed up with an equally annoying simper, causing Wendy’s hand to jerk towards the plastic knife on her tray.

 

“Oh, clueless one, it is quite understandable.”

 

Yeri did an exaggerated hair flip, one that smacked Joy’s in the face, the older girl glaring at her but otherwise remained in character.

 

“For I am quite beautiful and losing brain activity is a common ailment in my presence.”

 

The both of them gazed deeply into each other’s eyes before turning back to Wendy, hands still clasped together.

 

“Do it just like that.”

 

Wendy pulled a scowl and released the knife she had subconsciously picked up somewhere between Yeri’s (terrible) doe eyes and Joy’s high pitched whimper.

 

“I am not doing that.”

 

“Who’s not doing what?”

 

Wendy turned her head towards the voice and promptly reached out for WooHee’s collar, shaking the older girl with all her might as she shouted.

 

(The cafeteria’s occupants turned their heads towards them before going back to what they were originally doing, Wendy a common disturbance with her extra reactions.)

 

“You! It’s all your fault!”

 

WooHee’s head whipped back and forth like a deranged floppy man, barely able to get a word out due to how tightly Wendy was gripping her collar.

 

“I- What- Wendy-”

 

Serri sat by Seulgi gracefully, raising an eyebrow at the scene but was otherwise unperturbed of the assassination of her girlfriend. Seulgi, frantic and panicky, turned to Serri and gripped her upper arm tightly, fingers pressed into skin till they were pale.

 

“I think WooHee’s going to die!”

 

Serri looked over with disinterest and turned back towards her food, her captured hand coming up to pat at Seulgi’s cheek awkwardly.

 

“Don’t worry, WooHee survived a face plant into a concrete wall, she’ll survive this.”

 

Be it Serri’s ability to see the future or Wendy running out of steam, WooHee was soon released from the chokehold, collapsing against Joy heavily as she in air in huge gulps.

 

“What- what was that for?”

 

A laugh bubbled from Joy before the younger girl situated herself around WooHee, her grin widening yet again at Wendy’s predicament.

 

“Wendy got distracted by a pretty girl in the class you made her sit in for you and now she promised said girl she would be her groupmate.”

 

WooHee stared at Joy incredulously before looking towards Yeri who merely nodded. It was Serri, after chewing her food thoroughly and swallowing (manners matter, thank you very much), that questioned Wendy, who was once again imitating a very red faced ostrich.

 

“Which girl is that pretty that you could lose basic function?”

 

Yeri opened to answer before closing, teeth clicking together. Four pairs of eyes swiveled towards Wendy, Seulgi quipping up with curiousity.

 

“Come to think of it, you never told us her name.”

 

Wendy waved a hand above her head and mumbled something.

 

Joy leant forward.

 

“What?”

 

Shoulders raising and dropping with a huff, Wendy lifted her head from the cocoon of warmth and darkness and sighed, admitting the girl’s name reluctantly.

 

“Irene.”

 

It took her two seconds before she realised everyone was gaping at her, even Serri who was originally not interested.

 

She rubbed at her face self consciously.

 

“What?”

 

Yeri was the first to recover, pulling down until she was a replica of that “Not Bad” meme.

 

“Well. Now I have to apologise for laughing at you because I probably would’ve been the same.”

 

Wendy narrowed her eyes at the younger girl but decided not to question her, knowing that her blood pressure would probably not survive the inquisition. She turned to the most reliable source at the table, despite almost murdering her on the spot earlier, and questioned WooHee quickly, the older girl looking like she was about to burst out in a rant.

 

“Why is it weird that it’s Irene?”

 

WooHee let out a breath and flicked Wendy on the nose.

 

“You seriously have no idea?”

 

Wendy deadpanned in return.

 

“If I did, would I be asking you?”

 

Seulgi slid her phone over helpfully, the screen showing a page that Wendy rarely perused due to the amount of gossip that went on the school site.

 

“What-”

 

And promptly shut when she saw the content, Irene’s smiling face looking up at her, with bold letters beneath it stating-

 

“Oh. Oh.”

 

(Capslocked, italicised and put on the internet to see.

 

VOTED MOST BEAUTIFUL ON CAMPUS.)

 

*

 

“I don’t think I can do it.”

 

WooHee glanced up from her phone disinterestedly to glare at Wendy (unsuccessfully), the shorter girl gripping onto her arm for dear life as they marched towards their (non) shared class.

 

“Yes, you can. Put on your big girl pants and tell the truth. It’s not that hard.”

 

Wendy widened her eyes and twisted her fingers into the material of WooHee’s sweater.

 

“Easy for you to say! You’re not the useless gay!”

 

Truth be told, Wendy had spent the last week contemplating how exactly she would tell Irene that she wasn’t actually in the class, just a passerby caught in the throes of her friend’s whims.

 

And then she spent equally as many sleepless nights thinking about Irene’s smile and her eyes and how the almost fairy like laugh had breathed passed her lips-

 

And well, Wendy wasn’t a useless gay for nothing.

 

So, here Wendy was, walking towards a class she did not go to, with no plan or a script in mind, just the confidence of a friend who was basically dragging her along.

 

(To hell.

 

Heaven?

 

Is this where people go to when they die?)

 

WooHee patted her head absentmindedly and turned the corner, Wendy catching a wince when her hands tightened inadvertently at the sight of the lecture hall. Loosening her grip, she took a deep breath and shook her head, readying her pep talk for the mission before her, half an ear listening to WooHee who were greeting her classmates.

 

It’ll be alright, Wendy.

 

“Oh hey, how are you today?”

 

She’s just a girl. A very pretty girl. But a girl.

 

“Yeah, the assignment killed me as well. I heard we’re doing a group assignment in class today?”

 

You’ve got this.

 

“Oh, hey, Irene!”

 

Wendy’s head snapped up at the name, her brain wiped completely empty when she spotted Irene’s growing smile, eyes sparkling in golden twinkles as she waved at both WooHee and Wendy. Closing her gaping mouth, Wendy waved back shyly, whatever resolve she had during her pep talk flying out the window at the sight of that face.

 

I guess I could wait till after class?

 

WooHee glanced over at her and shook her head amusedly, dodging the elbow Wendy jabbed at her before they took their seats.

 

Irene tilted her head to one side and leant her chin on her hand.

 

“The TA said no clickers today, it’s a group assignment.”

 

Wendy nodded, sighing with relief inwardly, as she had completely forgotten about the existence of the clickers. Next to her, WooHee (having a working mouth, unlike Wendy), answered genially, pulling out her notebook.

 

“Oh, I guess we could be a group then!”

 

Her eyes slid over to Wendy who was busy admiring Irene’s side profile to really bother about her friend’s urging.

 

Unfortunately (or fortunately), the lecturer walked in at that point, his appearance cutting through all chatter and bustle, or in Wendy’s case, a confession.

 

Definitely later. You can do it later, Wendy.

 

The professor cleared his throat loudly and addressed the class.

 

“I’ll be passing around a stack of quizzes for the class today. I want it done in groups of no more than four and hand it back to me by the end of the class. If there are any questions, please talk to the TA and make sure to write your names on the sheet for credit.”

 

He looked around, waiting for any questions before gesturing to the TA, the young man passing out the papers as instructed.

 

Fidgeting in her seat, Wendy shot WooHee a look, the older girl shaking her head at her before reaching over to take the quiz from the person in front of her. They edged their tables together and pondered over the quiz, Wendy’s eyes practically swimming in their sockets at the sight of all the numbers.

 

Irene, on the other hand, merely studied them with a critical eye before letting out a chuckle.

 

“Well, looks easy enough. We basically learnt this in the last class so it should be fine.”

 

Wendy balked visibly and turned towards WooHee, who for some reason did not seem as panicked as she was.

 

(She definitely did not take any notes the last time around, why was Bae WooHee so confident for-)

 

“Yeah, I took a look at the lecture notes last time around so it should be alright.”

 

(Oh.

 

Right.)

 

Irene clapped her hands together and pulled the paper towards her, scribbling her name on top of the quiz neatly.

 

“Let’s just all put our names now before we forget later.”

 

Again, WooHee shot her a look as she wrote her own name in a flowing script, her foot kicking Wendy’s ankle. Shooting her friend a pained look, Wendy opened to speak, her eyes gravitating towards Irene’s eyebrows to avoid looking into those eyes.

 

(Seriously.

 

Those eyes should be illegal.)

 

“I- I kind of have a confession to make.”

 

(Don’t look at her face, don’t look at her face.)

 

Irene’s head tilted again, her cheekbones just catching the gleam of sunlight travelling through the window, framing it with such intention that it couldn’t be wrong to assume that the sun itself had sent its blessings on this day just for Irene.

 

“What is it?”

 

Wendy’s eyes darted downwards before focusing yet again on Irene’s eyebrows, taking great interest in the beauty mark adorning that area.

 

“I-”

 

Irene waited patiently.

 

“I-”

 

She swallowed thickly and made a mistake of glancing down again, completely caught in the pools of golden that threatened to drown her in its absolution.

 

And promptly send her courage down the drain in which Wendy was about to join.

 

“I just don’t know how much help I would be. I’m only really here for participation credits.”

 

A loud thunk jolted her out of her Irene induced haze as WooHee’s head made a connection with the table, Irene jumping slightly in her seat at the sound.

 

“WooHee? Are you alright?”

 

WooHee quickly straightened and waved an anxious hand in front of her face.

 

“I’m good! My hand just slipped.”

 

Wendy found herself on the receiving end of Bae WooHee’s patented deadpan look and she shrugged helplessly, gesturing at Irene with wide eyes.

 

(She was useless.

 

Nothing she already didn’t know.)

 

Irene pushed the paper towards Wendy, unaware of the silent conversation her classmate(s) were having and tapped on it with a delicate finger.

 

“It’s quite alright if you can’t answer, Wendy. I’m sure between the three of us, we can get a good grade.”

 

And then the corners of her lips twitched upwards, a hint of a kiss at the left corner and a dash of happiness written in soft pink, a present wrapped beneath gentle caresses and hidden amusement.

 

Just a quirk of a smile and Wendy was once again taken in, nodding dazedly as she wrote her name shakily.

 

Wendy spent the next half hour in the same daze, barely contributing to the answers that both girls were studiously checking off. Irene didn’t even seem to mind that Wendy was barely speaking, preferring to tap on her wrist periodically to bring Wendy’s attention back to the paper.

 

(WooHee, on the other hand, kept narrowing her eyes at her, her amusement growing with each failed attempt Wendy clocked under her “Useless Gay” column.

 

Wendy could see the roasting her friends would give her now once they met for lunch.)

 

Her spirit only came back to her when Irene gathered the paper in her hands, the sudden return to Earth had her jolting forwards and grabbing the wrist.

 

“No!”

 

Irene blinked at her rapidly, shocked at Wendy’s actions.

 

“What-”

 

WooHee nodded behind Irene’s back.

 

(Wendy can almost hear the “Hwaiting” she was so obviously projecting.)

 

Wendy looked up to Irene’s confused frown and the words from her brain made a detour as something else exited instead.

 

“I- I’ll take them up front. It’s the least I could do since I barely helped.”

 

(She could see WooHee resisting throwing her hands up into the air.)

 

She avoided her friend’s eyes, choosing instead to imprint Irene’s thankful smile on the forefront of her brain while she hurriedly rubbed off her name on the sheet.

 

The professor barely glanced at her when she placed the paper on his table, grunting in acknowledgement when Wendy bowed to him.

 

She turned around and found Irene and WooHee waiting for her, the shorter girl holding out her backpack with an easy smile. Thanking her, Wendy slipped her arms through the loops, almost missing the question Irene asked in her attempt to act normally in front of her.

 

“-phone number?”

 

“I’m sorry?”

 

Again, the right corner of Irene’s lips quirked up in amusement, practically cooing at Wendy’s clumsiness as she had in the previous class.

 

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