a reality.

Young
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By Monday, his fever went away completely. Baekhyun showed up to work as usual, all except the fact that he learned something he perhaps should not have. To think he could possibly sort out his thoughts by the end of the week was quite an overstatement. He envisioned this idealistic conversation with Yumi to clear out the misunderstanding; except, her presence alone had the man flustered by the vivid memories of that night. 

 

“Welcome back!” A few classmates shot up from their seats to greet the returning student. Followed by a light sniffle, Yumi reassured them that she was okay. 

 

“Are you sick? You look really pale.” 

 

Taken back by their sharp observation, she could have sworn that the cold had disappeared this morning. Although she had no one else to blame but herself. What went through her head when she kissed him that night with a soaring fever, she questioned. It was all too late now, dwelling on her rational decision won't turn back time.

 

“It’s just a simple cold…” Yumi laughed nervously, trying her best to dodge further questions. 

 

Oh how Baekhyun wished for his students to be a bit more discreet when conversing because from where he was, he could hear the whole conversation through and through. He kept his eyes glued on their morning lesson plan while everything played out. Only Baekhyun knew exactly how she caught that cold and he intended to keep it that way. Class went on smoothly, though neither one of them said a word to each other throughout the period. Some found it odd since Yumi was always the more talkative and snarky one in class.  

 

“You okay?” Jaemin flung an arm over his friend’s shoulder as they exited the classroom. “You seemed a bit quiet today,” he added.

 

“I just feel a little sick," Yumi relayed the same excuse as earlier.  

 

“We don’t have to meet up later if you don’t feel well. I can work on the part by myself,” he suggested for the sake of her health. Even if Jaemin was far more capable of doing this whole project by himself, she immediately refused his offer. 

 

“No! I’ll see you after class. I feel fine, I promise.”

 

Yumi definitely held out better than she expected. As discussed prior, she waited for Jaemin by the library entrance after class. The pair needed to work on some finishing touches before their anticipated due date next week. And with this project complete, their official graduation countdown begins. While still stuck in her whirlpool of thoughts, the student failed to spot an approaching figure coming towards her way. Baekhyun, who had just dismissed his last class of the day, spotted the girl waiting out by the building. He contemplated about bringing up the sensitive topic, but this was too serious of an issue to ignore. 

 

“Yumi...” he called out calmly to avoid scaring the girl. That obviously did not go so well, evident by the frightened look on her face upon meeting his eyes. 

 

Immediately snapping out of her thoughts, Yumi straightened herself up to face him. Trying to maintain a collected front was much harder than it seemed. Every word in her vocabulary began slipping one by one. Even a single greeting became a challenge for the girl. 

 

“M-Mr. Byun,” she stuttered, first things first. Get it together, she chanted in her head. 

 

Different scenarios crossed her mind since the spontaneous night. So much for preaching about accepting the consequences when she can’t even function properly next to him. This felt wrong on so many levels, where should she even begin. As the fierce battle in her head continued to taunt her, Yumi had forgotten about the poor man before her. Baekhyun waited for an opportunity to speak up again but with obvious puzzlement registered all over her face, he instantly became speechless himself. Averting his gaze back to Yumi, he paid close attention to the student’s expression, trying to read what was formulating in her head. Realistically speaking, he was just as confused. The gap between them grew simultaneously as they kept moving apart.

 

And to what felt like an eternity, Baekhyun finally opened his mouth. “About the other night,” he began slowly.

 

A sharp pang shot right through her chest when the dreadful topic came up. From the way he drew his lips downward, Yumi could predict where this conversation was heading. He probably knows, she convinced herself. She should have prepared her heart for this bitter confrontation if she knew better, but a part of her kept holding on to this improbable hope. Yumi forced a smile, sensing the nerves around her facial muscle fighting to display her disappointment. Until the very end, she acted as if nothing had happened— how pathetic, she thought. As if someone had heard her silent prayers, a voice called out to Yumi just in time to save her from this mess she created. 

 

Jaemin recognized his friend from afar and in front of her, a figure with his back turned. Although it wasn’t hard to distinguish his homeroom teacher’s professional attire, the very few who still follow a strict suit and tie agenda while many instructors opted out for more casual alternatives over the years. He observed the unlikely pair for a moment, sensing a rather tensed atmosphere between them. Jaemin caught a glimpse of his friend’s expression, her subtle flush became more apparent as he got closer. The way she kept avoiding Mr. Byun’s eyes had him questioning further, but even a fool could read straight through her. The realization came a bit too late, but Jaemin may have figured out the reason behind his rejection.

 

“Sorry I’m late,” he sent her an apologetic smile. Yumi’s eyes instantly lit up upon seeing her friend, or as she should call her savior in this dire situation. 

 

“No, it’s fine! I didn’t wait long,” she smiled, a subtle sigh of relief escaped her lips. 

 

Jaemin positioned himself next to the girl, now facing Baekhyun with a cheeky smile spread across his face. He politely greeted the man as if he had not been spying on them just now. What a horrible timing, Baekhyun eyed the lad. 

 

“What brings you here, Mr. Byun?” He suddenly asked. The last thing that Yumi wanted was for this conversation to drag on. In an attempt to alert the blond, she discreetly tugged on his uniform fabric from behind. Using this opportunity to tease his friend, Jaemin continued the unnecessary chat to torture her a bit longer. And as baffled as he was, the teacher had no other choice but to comply.

 

“Were you two talking about something?” Jaemin added, eyeing the teacher-student duo innocently. Finally reaching her limit, Yumi hooked her friend’s arm to drag him out by force.

 

“Hey, I actually need a lot of work on the project. We should go now,” she rushed Jaemin, who was clearly having the best time of his life. He laughed, nodding his head obediently as she dragged him along. They waved goodbye to their teacher before heading off in the opposite direction. Baekhyun watched as the class president secured an arm around her neck, pulling Yumi into a playful headlock. There it was again, that muted rage inside of him that kept bothering the man for quite some time now. Was he angry because of the poor timing, or was he simply jealous at the fact that the pair had no rules and regulations holding them back. He already knew the answer all along, but admitting it was the most difficult part.

 

Wrapping his friend in a headlock, Jaemin pulled her closer to share his new finding. “You have a crush on our teacher, don’t you?” he whispered.

 

Yumi’s ears flushed bright red from the shocking discovery, pushing him off immediately once they reached a safe distance away from the teacher. How obvious was she for Jaemin to crack the code that fast, she wondered. 

 

“You could’ve just told me that instead of avoiding me…” His expression softened upon witnessing her struggle to proceed with the explanation. Jaemin gently placed a hand on top of her head, giving it a light ruffle to comfort the girl.

 

“Isn’t it weird..?” Yumi muttered, lowering her head to avoid his gaze.

 

“Why is it weird? I had a crush on our lunch lady a few years back. Remember that college girl who got hired part-time by the school? She was really pretty,” he trailed off. 

 

Sensing his intention behind the story, Yumi eventually let down her guard. She thanked him, lau

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