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Push & Pull
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| CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE |

Twist & Turn

 

 

He stared at his friend for a while, eyes briefly scanning the man’s wrapped up hand. He had to give all the credit to Kyungsoo. That punch was indeed a hard one, it woke him up. Then, he glanced at the door where Jiwon had just stepped out from. It remained silent for a few more seconds until Kyungsoo sat down his office chair, clasping his hands together down the table, obviously waiting for him to speak up first.

Baekhyun looked down, smiling solemnly. “Okay, fine.” He sighed. “You and Hara are right. I’m probably starting to make Jiwon feel things that I couldn’t take responsibility for. It was my game, that was all it was.” The painful realization hit him hard on the chest. Yesterday was something he did not plan to do, nor to feel. The jealousy, the kiss … that one last breakdown he had which almost hurt both Kyungsoo and Hara’s relationship if he did end up doing it to prove his non-existent point.

First it was his father.

Then it was Kyungsoo.

By then, it was far more than a coincidence. He received a simple nod from Kyungsoo so he continued. “I wanted to hurt her, make her fall for me and then leave her behind just like all the women I’ve met. I wanted to make a point, I wanted to prove her that no one rejects me like she did the first time we met.” He chuckled softly. “And I think my game is starting to work on her. She has feelings for me.” He exhaled heavily, feeling his chest pound harder from what he had just revealed as if it was also revelation for himself.

Baekhyun looked up; lips parted. “So then?” Kyungsoo finally spoke as if waiting for him to say something in particular. “So then—” he gulped hard, his eyes scanning everywhere else but to his friend. “—that means, I won. Right?” He asked, a forced smile forming on his face. “That means … I can stop. I will conclude this stupid game, just as planned. I'll just stay away from her, cause I already got wh—what I want which is for her to … feel something. Anyway, I’m sorry about yesterday. Alright, see you.” He turned around, rushing to leave.

“Baekhyun, you feel something too. Come on. Stop being a coward and take responsibility, I know you want to.” Kyungsoo spoke.

Baekhyun closed his eyes tightly, his fists mirroring the action. He laughed as a response. Turning around to face his friend again, he shrugged his shoulders. “And what I feel or what I actually want … doesn’t matter. It never mattered in this game at all.” He laughed some more. “I’m the . I’m the guy women can never trust. I’m the guy who hates women’s guts just as much as they hate me. I’m the guy who hurts them, that’s what I am. That’s … what I will ever be to her.” Pain, unimaginable pain his chest. That’s what I will ever be to her. It was true and it came out of his own mouth but somehow, it hurt like a bullet in his throat letting out those words. Kyungsoo frowned hard. “You don’t deserve this, Baekhyun.” His voice, full of concern.

Another laugh came out of Baekhyun, as he looked briefly at the ceiling. He exhaled a deep one before meeting the man's eyes again. “And … I don’t deserve her.” His voice cracked as he finished the sentence.

He turned around and completely walked out of Kyungsoo’s office and rushed back into his own, as fast as he could. He didn’t want to talk to anyone, he didn’t want to even look at anyone’s eyes right now or he might just burst.Especially not her eyes.

He officially ended the game right there. He won, she lost. Everything was good. He didn’t have to chase her anymore. He didn’t have to do all these unnecessary things to woo her. He didn’t need to … be close to her. He didn’t need to do anything to make her feel something for him. He didn’t need to constantly convince himself she didn’t matter; more and more as they got closer.

He could just walk away like he always did. He was always good at doing that.

A knock on his door made him sit up straight, keeping his composure. For a second there, he could have just burst out of hateful tears. Thank you, knock. “Come in.” He cleared his throat before turning his computer on, just so he could pretend that he had been working.

It was Kim Jiwon.

No, this wasn't the right time. He didn’t want to deal with this right now. “Oh hey.” He forced a smile which wasn’t reciprocated at all. She had some folders on her hands. “These are the agreement and contract with M.S., you should review it before signing.” Her voice was professional, firm and cold. It was like the usual but … different, somehow. “Okay, thanks.” He distantly replied before taking it from the edge of his table.

She turned away briefly before facing him again.

“By the way.” She looked at him straight in the eyes, barely blinking. How could she do that? He wondered as concern filled his chest. “After further discussion just now, the coordinators and I have decided that Hwang Sora would be a better fit to work with you for Inferno’s debut. She has more experience with idol work and so I am passing it to her, I already emailed M.S. about it. Good luck.” She said in one straight sentence before leaving the office.

“What?” Baekhyun immediately stood up to chase her out. “Hey, wait. What? Why are you just pulling out of this? This is so sudden, we worked together for the presentation, right?” He grabbed her by the wrist to twirl her around. He wasn't going to bring up those beautiful moments they had at his father's house but if he had to, he would. Jiwon kept a professional smile as she gently pulled her hand away from his grip. “Yeah and it was a good presentation but I agreed when they told me that … it might be too soon for me to work on idols. It’s a different kind of game that—” She looked away and chuckled solemnly. “—that I can’t play.” Their eyes meet once more.

“What—I don’t understand. I saw your designs, the wardrobe you prepared for the guys, they were—you were amazing. It was perfect for the concept, you’re perfect for this. You’re talented.” Baekhyun frowned hard, not getting where the sudden tension was coming from. Jiwon took a step back, weakness suddenly forming in the way she looked at him. Dead stare; distant, no emotion. He realized how much have changed between them as he looked at those eyes, those same eyes she gave him the very first time they met. At the same time, a hint of pain sparkled in her eyes which was something new he hadn't seen.

Jiwon exhaled a weak laugh, just to keep the mood professional and light. She could barely breathe just standing before him. “You do—don’t have to do that, Baekhyun. You don’t have to say anything you don’t mean. Just … just give this to Sora, she’s better fit.” She turned around and walked away just in the right time that tears began forming in her eyes.

She ran into the washroom and hid in a cubicle before finally letting the tears out. She confused herself of why she was even crying. Why looking at him hurt? Why hearing his pretend-sincerity felt like knives digging into her chest? Why did he ever matter to her?

Why did she have to lose and fall?

 

 

Later on the day, she left work early to meet up with Jihwan. If she didn’t have any plans, she would have just gone home and cried herself to sleep. But no, she wasn’t that kind of friend who ditched. “Hey, what’s the face for?” Jihwan asked as soon as she sat on the chair across him on the table. They met up at a pub he wanted to try in Itaewon—unfortunately, it was the pub Jiwon went to and had that drunken night with Baekhyun.

Of all places she could be in right now …

“Let’s talk about the clothing shop you’re planning to open again.” Jiwon smiled, forced it at least. Jihwan was unsure for a while as he took a sip of his drink. “Uhm, okay? What else is there to talk about? I think I’ve told you about everything already last night. My dad's already discussing everything with the landlord of the building I've chosen. It's a good area for that kind of business, at Yorkville. Rent is ing expensive but I'm sure it would be worth it.” He shrugged his shoulders, honestly clueless of what else is there to add. Jiwon looked around the pub, memories from that one special night replayed in her head unwillingly. It was magical yet so humble, every second counted, every words were cherished in her heart. That was the night she got to know the real Byun Baekhyun. 

That was the night ... she saw right through him, of what he was deep inside. A good man who was hurt by life. A caring man who needed a lot of patience. A loving man ... who just needed someone who won't give up on him.

Or so she thought he was. 

He was a good actor, she realized.

Silence. Jiwon looked around, trying to fight the urge to just burst out of tears again and run to Jihwan for a hug. “I’m sure you … need a manager or something, right? Or just someone to help you run the business? Someone who also knows fashion as much as you do.” She kept her composure as she spoke. “Where are you trying to go with this? Because you’re looking … very weird right now. You have your pooping face, girl.” Jihwan leaned on his chair and folded his arms judgingly.

Jiwon’s shoulders loosen down as she sighed, accidentally letting a few tears come out. “Oh my god.” Jihwan put a palm on his chest and another palm right on his mouth, not expecting the sudden outburst. “Please, give me a reason to quit my job here. Come on and be a friend. Please, I beg you. I don’t know what to do anymore.”  Jiwon slammed her face down the table as ugly sobs came out of her.

“What?” Jihwan hissed and immediately looked around in embarrassment when his voice came out louder than he planned.

Jiwon lifted her head up again, wiping her tears like a child. Jihwan just looked back at her in bewilderment, not having seen this side of her for so long. “What the hell is wrong with you? Come on, speak up because you’re freaking me out.” He grunted with a big frown on his face. “People will think I’m like an breaking up with you right now.”

Suddenly, Jiwon grabbed both of his wrists across the table while the man just sat still in panic, still caring about the people around them. “I like him, okay? Wait no, I’ve fallen for him. Fine, you got me. It’s Baekhyun, I surrender. I have feelings for him for ’s sake! I don't want this, take this out from me. I don't want to feel anything.” She cried out. “Okay, let me—” Jihwan stood up grabbing her along wit

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