[CONTENTID2]chapter twenty seven[/CONTENTID2]
[CONTENTID3]sights and sounds[/CONTENTID3]
"They're framing you, Sehun, why are you sitting here like you don't have another care in the ing world? Are you insane?"
He shrugs. "Maybe."
"What are we going to do?" I find my voice has reached small volumes. The truth is, I don't know what I will do. I don't know how to help him. And with every second that passes, I am freaking out just a little more. The air becomes suffocating to breathe, and it’s progressively more and more painful to see him in this state.
He doesn't deserve this.
I hadn't meant for things to turn out this way—and if he really gets prosecuted for Sanghoon's crimes, he'll spend the rest of his life in jail.
"What do we do, Sehun?" I find myself tearing up.
His head is shaking softly now. "You don't need to do anything, Juri."
I can't help it.
I'm crying now.
The silence has broken.
I can no longer ignore the elephant in the room.
I've broken down crying.
My face is in my hands while I uncontrollably sob, and soon enough my gut-wrenching cries are the only sounds that echo in this room.
"I-I—" I choke through my sobs. "I'm so sorry if I'm the r-reason you're—"
"I-I'm so sorry, S-Sehun..."
The tears... they really burn.
But what physically hurts me most is the pain in my chest.
I feel it—it's deep inside my core and it has stolen my breaths. I'm struggling for air while the torrents of tears continue coursing their way down my face.
It really feels like forever that these feelings eat me up inside.
They gnaw on my organs.
Bit by bit.
Bite by bite.
Until Sehun has hooked his leg around one of the front legs of my chair.
And he has pulled my chair farther in.
And while it is difficult for him to move his hands because they're handcuffed to the table...
He reaches over and clasps my hands with his.
My cries slowly die down.
But most importantly, the words he's whispering between the lines.
Because now, suddenly…
Suddenly, his silence isn't the worst sound in the world anymore.
Because I know he is here.
He is here.
Ironically, this type of silence is quite...
Because within its presence, we can hear everything else.
Everything that speaks for us.
My heart is the loudest sound, I think. It's hammering out my chest when he touches me like that, when his thumb is circling around my hand like that, when I feel the warmth from his touch against my cold hands.
The next sound I hear is our breaths.
Mine had been hurried before.
But it's slowly falling into a softer, more regular rhythm.
And I hear his breath, too. It's slow, it's calm, it's… soothing.
I love this silence.
Because I can hear Sehun and he can hear me.
And when his voice cuts through it, I'm almost hurt.
Though I'll admit his next words are more heartwarming than any type of silence.
"I lied, Juri."
"You don't remind me of my childhood crush anymore…"
"Because she would've never been stupid enough to cry at a time like this…"
His voice is a gentle whisper now.
"You're the same girl, Juri."
"You're the girl from my childhood."
"So stop crying, because Soomi would have never cried for a guy like me."
"My girl would smile…"
"And I would smile with her."
We're making favourites.
A favourite sound; a favourite touch; a favourite time.
There are so many to choose from. Sehun is always making it harder and harder for me to decide. He'll give me more and more favourites than I can count until the list becomes exhaustive.
Should I do it?
Should I choose this one, this favourite?
Do I even dare have the audacity to ask, because what's not to love when he's looking at me like that? What's not to love when his eyes are soft and unyielding, and the curve of his lips don't need to extend to longer widths because its very presence is enough for me?
I'm not sure which one I like more right now—the sound or the sight.
His silence or his smile.
Both. I choose both.
"I said she would smile, not look at me with a stupid expression."
Just ruin it, won't you?
Go ahead and ruin the moment when I know I'm falling deeper and deeper and it becomes all the more difficult to crawl my way out of this pitiful state.
The moment sustains further, because lo and behold, I have cracked a smile.
A big one, at that.
A big, stupid, completely unreasonable smile and perhaps a slight snort.
He really meant it.
He meant it when he said Soomi would smile, and that he would smile with her.
Because here I am, smiling at him, and he's smiling back at me.
"You lied to me?"
I can't even deny that my heart is hammering at this point, and the swirling in my stomach is deliciously uncomfortable. I know it's irrational to feel this way, and certainly when he's the same boy I've sworn to hate. It's ing wizardry—how is he making me feel this way?
How? How, how, how, how, how, how?
He relinquishes his grasp on my hand while his spine meets the back of his chair. His arms are knotted across his chest now. "Should I apologise for it?" he asks.
"That would be appropriate, since apparently all you ever do is lie to me, Sehun."
He smirks. "Then, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for lying to you."
They're ruthlessly fluttering and flittering and thrashing in my abdomen. Make it stop. Please. Someone, make it stop.
Because with the truth slowly unravelling, I find myself questioning everything.
How could I be the girl from his childhood?
How could it be… me?
How could I be the girl he spoke fondly of?
That girl, that night, on those steps.
The girl who spoke too loudly, hugged too tightly, and smiled too widely.
The girl whose mere name brought a smile on his lips? The girl who was responsible for the way his sentences had danced that night—they truly danced, because there was so much life injected in his words? The girl whose spoken tales and the impressions they had forever imprinted on this stoic boy awed me with each word, each sentence and each paragraph he uttered? God, could that really be me?
It's funny because I never thought I'd ever want to be Yeon Soomi ever again.
The name had always felt... dirty to me. It represented a girl that had lost everything; a girl whose name represented everything my father had wanted—everything my family hadn't been.
But the way Sehun says it is different.
It's different—it really is.
Because he makes it sound like it is a badge to be worn. That I should be proud to have such a pretty name. He formulates it against his vocal cords and ejects it into a soft echo through the room with such precious affection that my face warms and my heart begins to pump faster.
This boy is so dangerous.
"What, was that apology not enough?" Sehun eyes me with a raised brow.
This bastard. The teasing glint in his eyes is particularly what is most dangerous about him. He knows the effect he has on me. He knows the connection he and I have is conspicuous now, and that it's no longer a secret that we've previously been burying with all our might.
"I'm sorry," he repeats.
"I'm sorry for lying to you that time."
"Why did you lie, Sehun? You know I would've been happy to hear it."
He hums with thought. "Not back then. Now? Sure. Then? I think we needed more time."
My left brow is lifted. "Now? Who said I'm happy to hear it now? I changed my name for a reason—what makes you think hearing about your stupid childhood crush is going to change my mind?"
Sehun's smile grows. "Oh, come on," he smirks. "Of course it has. You should see the smile on your face right now."
I hate this.
I hate this.
I hate this.
I hate him.
Why is he doing this to me?
Is this his M.O.?
Has he opted for emotional torture now that he can no longer physically torture me while being handcuffed to the table?
Yes, shut up. That's all I can say. Shut up, Sehun.
Shut that pretty mouth of yours up.
Your words are too dangerous for me.
"I would," Sehun his lips, "but there's something about the way you look when I say these words that's… addictive."
He laughs. "Fine."
Though there is a pause, I am quick to refill the silence. "You know, I really liked the name."
Sehun's eyes are on mine, concentration intensifying the more I continue.
"Soomi, I mean. I thought it sounded… pretty. My dad used to just sing it every time he came home from work, or every time I walked through the clinic. I just… it sounded so pretty when he said it. And each time he did, I would think to myself—this, this is love. This sound. The sound of him saying my name. He always sounded so happy. It was so full of love."
These memories used to be so…
Recalling them used to make my throat constrict; I would never think it easy to revisit such traumatising memories, but… it's not frightening anymore.
At least not with Sehun.
"And when I found out he named me after his mistress, it was the worst feeling in the world. I realised, oh, so that's why he sounded so happy to say my name, that's why it was so full of love—because it wasn't my name he was calling. It was hers."
And though there are tears pooling in my eyes again, I should tell you that I am not sad.
I am not heartbroken.
I am not grieving.
I am not hurt.
"And so, it really means a lot to me when you say that, Sehun." The gaze I have on him is tender. "It means so much to me to know that there is someone out there who can recall my name and have such fond memories of it... "
I smile weakly. "It means more to me than you know."
The smile on his lips has now vanished, because perhaps he hadn't even understood how much this means to me.
How healing it is to hear this from him.
"I just wish we had met back then, Sehun." My smile is faint, but I like to think it doesn't need to be flashy for him to understand my sincerity. "Perhaps we could have been good friends. Perhaps… perhaps you wouldn't have had to suffer alone, and I wouldn't have had to either. Perhaps we could have been there for each other."
A small smile from him. "You think so?"
I return the look. "I do."
"Maybe not," he sighs with amusement. "You were loud."
And now I'm intrigued, because yes, while I do believe him, I just don't remember ever meeting him. "When did you say we had met, Sehun?"
He shakes his head. "We never did."
He registers my confusion, responding to it with a small eye roll. "You and your family frequented my father's clinic."
"So you stalked me?"
"It's not stalking when I was there first."
I giggle. "Yes, yes it is. How many times did you watch me before you found out my name?"
His stare is scrutinising. "Are you accusing me of being creepy?"
"Uh, yes. Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing. You got a problem with that?"
He leans forward on the table, closing the already short distance between our faces.
"I do have a problem with that," he narrows his eyes at me. "You're tainting my favourite memory."
I can't help but smile. And this time, I lean over the table as well, bringing our faces apart a distance only shy a few inches.
"Should I apologise?"
He pauses first. His eyes are on my lips. Is he even trying to hide it?
"No need," he mutters back, until his eyes are back on mine.
Sehun had pressed his lips on top of mine to deliver a short peck.
"You're so predictable, Nam Juri." He smirks, stifling another laugh.
Shock is palpable across my expression, because he has completely taken me by surprise.
"You should go," he says, eyeing the clock on the wall as he leans back into his chair with nonchalance. "Those idiots are probably coming back from their lunch break soon."
He just did that like it was nothing.
One of these days I'm really going to kill him.
His smug smile just makes it all the more infuriating. "What's wrong, sweetheart?"
I quickly stand up, glaring at him because I don't know how else to react. The heat is seeping its ways to my cheeks the more I recall how he had just kissed me so easily, and more so when he continues to stare at me with a smile.
He stifles a laugh.