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CHAPTER V:
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∞⇢

AS IF ON CUE, MY HEARTBEAT GREW WILD BEHIND MY CHEST.

I had to blink my eyes a couple of times to make sure that my brain wasn’t lying to me…that this was all happening. Yet after a few seconds of silence and a few slightly unsteady breathings, everything remained the same.

I was still on the same spot, the guy I came to know as Jongin was behind me. Baekhyun was in front of me and a few steps from him was Luna.

My attention fixed on her, it was as if I saw it all over again. The exact same look I remembered from those years.

Those eyes that only focused on Baekhyun right now.

It was impossible for me to check his reaction because all I could see was the back of his head as he was facing her as well. Darting my attention towards Luna once more, I noticed how she seemed to take her time gazing at him. She wasn’t smiling but there was something else that if she had not disappeared for a long while, I would conclude that the look on her face was absolutely one that expressed how much she missed him.

Then worry suddenly took over her expression, especially when her eyes fell on his injured arm. I swear, I saw her about to open and move towards him when Baekhyun suddenly withdrew his attention from her by tilting his head down. His act, making her stop what was she was about to do.

What was going on inside his head, I wouldn’t really know. For the past days that Luna’s name was mentioned in our conversations, I never fully pictured this moment out. Never really thought of them finally seeing each other again. Especially not like this.

Seeing the two of them, I instantly felt like an outsider. In fact, how I had always been whenever they were together in the past.

Blinking my eyes, I internally panicked as I remembered the person behind me.

I turned to check on him. His attention were also on the other two. He’s probably wondering what was going on until he noticed me staring and the next second, it was our eyes’ turn to meet.

I didn’t know what to tell him which made me more uncomfortable. I withdrew my attention from him to check on the rest. Baekhyun was neither facing me nor Luna. Luna’s gaze trailed from him to me. We exchanged looks for a second and neither of us smiled.

All four of us and suddenly, the whole court seemed crowded. Just by standing there, I could feel the tension build up and for some reason was unconsciously waiting for Baekhyun to turn to me.

I was holding my breath and kinda just realized it when I heard Jongin’s voice.

“You can at least shake my hand…” He hesitated, his deep voice resonating.

His line did not only catch my attention but Baekhyun’s as well. Before I could even glance at Jong in, I watched how Baekhyun finally tilted his head up and turned to me. We met each other’s eyes for a brief second before I had to cut the connection between us as I turned around to Jongin.

“Just to you know…” He paused to make way for a small crooked smile. “Make the situation less awkward, I guess?” He added as he extended his hand towards me once again.

It was a wonder how he was still able to keep his cool despite the obvious tension. Probably because he didn’t know the thing with Luna and Baekhyun.

When his lips turned into a full smile, my thoughts were taken off from everything else. Suddenly, I felt relieved that I was not the only outsider here.

“You’re right.” I agreed briefly, “I probably should.” I went on as I took the hand he offered.

The handshake came in with a gentle squeeze which was comforting in a way, my eyes on the small upward curve that resurfaced on his face.

“Kang-” I was about to introduce.

“Seolhee.” Baekhyun called, finishing my introduction for me.

However, I was sure that it wasn’t his intention.

Just as soon as my focus landed back to him, I saw him slightly winced. His arm probably hurt as he was still holding it. Without a warning, flashes of his match with Minjae flooded my thoughts, making me remove my hand from Jongin’s before I made hurried steps towards Baekhyun.

The sound of my heels echoed inside the huge basketball court. I immediately checked on Baekhyun’s arm, unaware that it would hurt more due to my carelessness. He winced once more, closed his eyes in the process.

Seeing his reaction, I was worried and suddenly forgetting about everything else especially being conscious. I looked at him expecting to meet his eyes but he was looking at Jongin. I followed his look and found Jongin openly gazing at us as well.

Why were they looking at each other like that?

“Why didn’t you go to the clinic?” I unconsciously nagged, right away.  

Baekhyun stared at me while my eyes explored the rest of his face to make sure he wasn’t hurt anywhere else.

“Are you okay-”

“I told you I’ll come find you after the match.” He replied firmly, cutting my question.

I got annoyed for a millisecond. I couldn’t believe that he took his health for granted just to come meet me here. I wanted to tell him that he could have just texted me or something. However, all I could do was just stare back at him.

Then I noticed how he was sweating a lot. I was about to lift a hand to wipe his forehead when he held my wrist with his free hand.

“Can we just please get outta here.” He said in a purposely low volume.

That wasn’t a question, I knew. This situation must have caught him off guard as well. So, without having any second thought, I took his un-injured arm and held it. We turned towards Luna’s direction and upon seeing her, I remembered Jongin once more.

It would be impolite of us to just leave him there like that. So, I made a quick glance at him and gave him a brief nod. Thankfully, he had an understanding look on his face.

Baekhyun and I walked towards the exit yet we were only about two steps from the previous spot when it was my turn to wince in pain. I swear I hate these heels, I almost cursed in my head.

I heard Baekhyun sighed next to me before he stopped walking which made me halt my steps as well. I decided to ignore the pain the heels were causing me as I paid more attention to him. When I turned to look at his face, he was already staring at me again.

“Can you just take your ing heels off?” He told me, his tone authoritative.

I gave him a huh look which of course made him speak once more.

“Take them off,” he added. “Before you completely hurt yourself too.”

“No, I’m okay-”

I tried to protest only to do what I was told to when he gave me that persistent gaze. Taking off my shoes, I noticed how he took his slippers off as well.

“Wear them.”

If it were some ordinary situation, I would have disagreed with all my might. However, I honestly didn’t wanna make a scene right here. So, in complete silence, I wore them.

I caught a sight of Luna who was openly watching us and it made me feel uncomfortable. Honestly, I don’t even wanna know what she’s thinking right now.

When we were about to pass by her, I couldn’t help but notice how she seemed hesitant but caught Baekhyun’s attention anyway.

“Baek.” She muttered.

Gosh, hearing her voice brought back memories. I immediately checked on Baekhyun’s reaction which was unreadable.

Though we stopped for a second, no words were spoken after.

The next thing I knew, Baekhyun and I left the court.


∞⇢
 

We took the short cut behind the building that way we could get to the clinic faster. We passed by the unoccupied areas.  

We were in complete silence as we unhurriedly walked. The quieter it got, the more I thought about what happened during his match earlier. All of a sudden, I slowly felt anger building inside me recalling how much he suffered.  

Did he have to go this far because of some University stuff? He could have just given up if it was that risky, I kept thinking.  

That Minjae was one thing but I was scared because Baekhyun wouldn’t know when to back down. He was fearless, he had always been and sometimes that scared me, a lot.

I tried to just let it go but whenever I caught a sight of his arm and him limping, I just get consumed by frustration and anger at the same time until I stopped on my feet.

“Why did you let that beat you like this?” I asked, my tone giving away how I truly felt.

He must have been taken aback, he did not say anything.

“Must you go this far for some friendly match?” I forehead creased, nagging him.

I stepped away from him. He was speechless for the next seconds, just looking back at me.

“You could have backed down before you got hurt.” I went on, insisting.

He exhaled loudly as he tried to straighten his posture.

“It’s fine,” He replied, in an obviously moderated voice and tone. “I won anyway.” He added in a matter of fact tone.

I found his reply absurd. How could winning be a priority to him at this point. I glared at him. I couldn’t understand but it almost felt like a sudden surge of emotions were taking place behind my chest. I was worried sick about him right now but it seemed as if winning was the only thing he had in mind.

“Didn’t you want me to win?”

There was a slight tinge of sarcasm in his voice and that subtle eyebrow raise didn’t go unnoticed.

“You should have seen how he was after the fight-” He tried to explain.

I scoffed, cutting his speech short.  

“My god, this is ridiculous!” I half screamed, catching him off guard. “I don’t need to you to win Baekhyun!”

His eyes grew wide, shocked of my sudden outburst.

“You could have lost and that’s okay.” I added, breathless as I watched how confusion continue to take over his face. “I hate seeing you like this.” I went on, this time in a slow pace.

He took a few seconds to watch me try and calm myself before he took a deep breath, momentarily looked away as if he felt guilty or something.

“Seol, this is nothing.” He told me. “I’m not a kid, I know what I’m doing okay?”

“Yeah right.” I scoffed, unable to hold back the sarcasm.

He was obviously annoyed with my behaviour right now.

“Please don’t act like I fractured a bone or something.” He exhaled loudly. “I’m sure this isn’t serious. Don’t be dramatic.” He responded.

I resumed to glare at him.

“You think I’m being dramatic?” I asked.

I couldn’t believe that he was making this about me.

“Yes, you are.” He answered, his voice a bit louder than usual

My chest heaved as I grew more frustrated. My hands balled into fists as I tried my hardest not to yell at him.

He, on the other hand, just stood there. His body language giving me an idea that he found me absurd.

“Gosh Baekhyun! Sometimes, you make me hate you so much.” I sighed in defeat, looking away. 

“What are you talking about Seol?” He asked, exasperatedly. “You know I can take care of myself. If I couldn’t then something worse could have happened….”

“That is not the point Baekhyun!” I raised my voice once more. “Of course, I know how freaking amazing you are, you’re not called the Hapkido prince for nothing right?”

“C’mon Seol, don’t go mocking me right now…” He looked at me incredulously as if what I just said was ridiculous. “You shouldn’t.”

“I’m not mocking you.” I retorted defiantly.

“Then why are you so mad all of a sudden?” His voice slightly got louder as well. “Please tell me. Because at this point I can’t read you. You have to tell me why you’re so worked up over this arm.” He added, pointing at the said arm.

“You’re actually asking me why I was so worked out over your arm.” I smirked in disbelief. “You mean over your INJURED arm, right?”

He shook his head, looking so done with this conversation. And it took every ounce of energy I had left to stop myself from arguing more.

“You’re impossible.” I shook my head, making a few steps back. “I can’t talk to you right now.” I told him, giving up as I walked ahead of him.

“Really now?” He called.

I didn’t bother to glance at him.

“Kang Seolhee.” He called.

“You said you can take care of yourself, right.” I told him as I finally glanced back.

“You’re really going to just leave me here? Like this?”

I saw him standing on the same spot, still in his hapkido uniform, barefoot. For a second, I felt guilty but I knew that he wouldn’t even understand why I was acting this way. I turned away once more.

I was so consumed by my emotions that I did not hear come. The next I knew he was next to me.

“No.” He protested as he blocked my way. “You are not walking away like this. You’re not walking away mad. Let’s fix this right here. Right now.” His eyes were boring into mine.  “I don’t want you to go feeling like I don’t understand how you feel.”

“That’s because you don’t.” I took my arm off him.

“EXACTLY!” He exclaimed, as his free hand landed on his waist.

He looked stressed out as he looked away, taking a deep breath.

I couldn’t move, my heartbeat was loud. How was it possible that I was feeling all these emotions all at once?

“That’s why please…” His facial expression turned gentle when he faced me once more. “Tell me so I can understand.” He looked into my eyes. “We haven’t been in good terms lately, I don’t…damn Seol.” He paused to momentarily shut his eyes closed and rake his hair with his fingers. “I don’t want us to fight. Okay?” He went on firmly. “I don’t want us to get used to having fights like this.”

He made a few steps closer to me. He quickly wet his lips as he spent the next millisecond thinking.

“It makes me think how we would probably have another fight like this and lose each other. It…it scares me.” He stared at me. “Just the thought scares me.”

Silence.
All I could hear my heartbeat.

Spending a good minute calming myself and watching him, I managed to think rationally.

“I’m not exactly mad at you, you know.” I told him, both my tone and the volume of my voice normal. “But I just keep getting frustrated at how you’re so willing to put yourself on the line every time.”

His eyes were waiting for me to justify what I just said.

“Seeing you earlier pinned on the floor while Minjae…” I paused, biting my lip suddenly feeling the urge to cry. “Did that to you…”

We exchanged looks.

“I was so scared Baekhyun.” I added, looking up and blinking my eyes as I felt the tears form.  “I...” I trailed off as I looked away. “I couldn’t breathe.” I gulped, feeling the lump in my throat. “I haven’t seen you beaten like that in any of your matches…”

“Seol…” He sounded guilty.

“That moment…I was terrified something bad would happen to you.” I struggled to add as I lifted a hand to swiftly wipe the tears on my cheeks.

I heard him sigh.

“I feel so stupid for crying.” I said, scolding myself.

I did. I felt stupid for crying in front of him right now just because I was worried of him. I turned around engrossed with getting rid of the tears ASAP.

I sensed him move and stopped in front of me. He placed a hand on my shoulder before he brought it to my head and gave it a gentle ruffle.

“Stop crying now.” His voice was just above a whisper. “You’re ruining your make up.” He added, intending to break the ice.

It worked like magic. I laughed while crying and I didn’t know how that was possible. I wiped my face with my hands aware that he was waiting for me to look at him.

“Sorry you had to see that.” He apologized, sounding sincere. “I didn’t mean to get you worried, I swear.” He explained, his tone pacifying. “But you’ve got to trust me Seol.”

Meeting his eyes, I knew that we have resolved the conflict.

“You how I hate seeing people I hold dear go through pain, Baek.” I added, remembering what my mom went through before.

He must have gotten what I meant.

“I only have gramps, my dad and you now.”

“Of course.” He answered with a nod. “I’m sorry, okay?” He placed a hand on my shoulder. “It’s a relief though that gramps and Uncle Siwoo do not do martial arts.”

Gosh, this guy’s crazy. 


∞⇢

We were in the clinic.

The University doctor had just finished examining Baekhyun. I let out a sigh of relief when he said that fortunately he didn’t have a fracture or something worse but he will suffer from muscle spasm for a few days because of his arm.

He strictly advised him not to get his injured arm to work. In short, he should be very careful or his condition would grow worse. The doctor even asked the nurse to put him on an arm sling just so Baekhyun get to be reminded about it. He also prescribed some medications and pain reliever as well.

As soon as the doctor and the nurse left, I sat on the chair in front of the clinic bed where Baekhyun was sitting. Now that we were alone, I continued to stare at him as I watched him check his arm sling. I spaced out, my focus still on it when I heard him clear his throat.

I looked up to check his face just in time he turned away. It appeared like he had something to say but was hesitant.

Could it have something to do with Luna? How come she was there in the court earlier? Could it be that that have met ahead? And the thing that Baekhyun was about to tell me, did it have something to do with her?

I caught myself lost in my thoughts until Baekhyun finally broke the silence between us.

“It seems like I wasn’t the only one whom you agreed to meet at the court after the game.”

My brows furrowed at what I heard as I looked at him. My brain lagged for a millisecond as I processed his words and right when I was about to open my mouth to reply a loud Jongdae and Naeun came.

“Yah Byun Baekhyuuuuun!” Jongdae half-yelled as he rushed next to Baekhyun.

He genuinely looked worried as he checked on his friend who remained seated on the clinic bed. Baekhyun looked at him as they both fell silent.

“Now is the time for you to tell me you’re okay Baek.” Dae told him.

“I’m fine Dae.” He assured.

As soon as Baekhyun complied, Jongdae faked a loud sigh of relief causing Naeun and I exchanged looks. Both convinced that he exaggerated.

“I would appreciate it if that relief did not sound so fake Dae.” Baekhyun told him, supressing a smile.

“Yah!” He made a face. “It might have sounded a little bit exaggerated but my love for you ain’t fake!” He reasoned out. “Ask Naeun.” He pointed at her.

Naeun looked innocent for a second before she smiled.

“He’s truly worried about you Baek.” She stated. “He rushed all the way here, tagging me along with him…no actually dragging me along with him and my arm…” she extended her left arm. “Almost left my other body parts.”

The next thing, we were watching Naeun acting like that arm hurt.

Gosh, they’re all bunch of crazy people.

“See?!” Jongdae whined, with an intended pout.  

“Okay, okay.” Baekhyun chuckled. “I’m sorry if I got you all worried-”

Baekhyun trailed off when we noticed Minseok arrived. He had Baekhyun’s backpack with him and placed it on the bed before checking on him.

“Waaaaaahh.” Minseok uttered, a hand on his chest while he tilted his head down. “Don’t go scaring us like that again Baek. I literally almost jumped off the bleachers and kick that rascal.”

“You have to know how to kick to begin with.” Jongdae interfered. “You know that right?”

“YAH!” Minseok jokingly snapped at Jongdae. “Who gave you the right to talk to me like that?”

“Love you Hyung.” Jongdae smiled at him as if making peace.

“I know.” Minseok replied.

I just had to roll my eyes as I let out of a small laugh due to their silliness. I watched how Baekhyun was looking at the both of them. He wasn’t saying anything but I was certain he appreciate these guys a lot.

 “Uhm, Seol?” Minseok called, turning to me. “Do you happen to know Jongin?”

“Jong in?” I asked back, remembering him earlier. “Kim Jongin? The Basketball player from the other University?”

“Yeah.” He nodded in response. “He’s uhm…he’s the son of my mom’s best friend.”

“So, that was him earlier.” It was Baekhyun, his eyes on mine.  “The other person you agreed to meet after the game.” His tone suddenly sounded flat.

I was sure all other pair of eyes were prying at us.

“Oho.” Jongdae exclaimed who earned an elbow nudge from Minseok right away as they eyed each other.

“Well uhm…” Minseok trailed. “He’s outside the clinic building and he’s got your shoes.”

Oh.

“How did you know they’re Seol’s?” Naeun asked. “I mean the shoes.”

“Well…” Minseok shrugged before pointing at my feet.  “Those slippers are Baekhyun’s and she wouldn’t have worn them during the games right?” He told Naeun. “And I actually stopped by to talk to him and he said he’s waiting for a Kang Seolhee.”

I heard Baekhyun scoffed. Please he’s been acting with subtle sarcasm again, what’s wrong with him? I was sure that the other three were going to make a big deal out of his reactions.

“How did you guys know each other?” Jongdae asked.

“I’ve been seeing him lately ar…”

“YOU’VE BEEN SEEING HIM?!” Jongdae gasped and immediately turned to Baekhyun. “You know about this?”

“No Dae.” I protested before they could misinterpret it.

“He doesn’t?” Jongdae’s eye grew wide. “So you were seeing other guys behind his back?”

My forehead creased as I watched how Baekhyun raised an eyebrow at him.

“I mean… well. I mean behind our backs.” Jongdae added. “Us. Your friends.”

“No, of course not.” I sighed. “I mean I been seeing him around the campus. During the practice and all because of the Basketball game.”

“Oh.” Jongdae nodded, sounding relieved. “I thought you…” He glanced at Baekhyun. “Let this happen somehow.”

“Oh yeah!” Minseok intercepted. “I think I saw him on the day of Baekhyun’s swimming competition. “But I never got the chance to talk to him that day.”

I nodded.

“I think I saw him there first.” I replied.

“So you already know him since then.” Baekhyun stated.  

I felt like I was put on a hot seat.

“He was formally introducing himself when you walked in the court earlier.” I explained. “You saw the whole thing, didn’t you?”

He shrugged, tilted his head down as he checked his arm.

There was silence in the room and it seemed to me like all of them were judging me somehow.

“Guys, c’mon. I did not agree to meet him there after the games, okay?”

“That’s not pretty convincing Seol.” Baekhyun replied nonchalantly, not even bothering to look at me.

I sighed in defeat, aware that I had to explain myself to clear any misunderstanding.  

“Before the game started, we met in the hallway and he told me that if their team won the game, he earns the right to ask for my name.”

“Ooh, smooth.” Jongdae remarked, sounding impressed.

He earned a hiss from Minseok and a pinch from Naeun which made him mouth a silent ow.

“So, they won?” Baekhyun asked before smirking. “It’s stupid for me to ask when it was obvious.” He looked up to exchange looks with me. “It’s even obvious that he’s hitting on you.”

“Baekhyun.” I said firmly. “Don’t you think this isn’t the time for you to tease me to some guy?”

“Who says I’m teasing you?” He continued to gaze at me. “I’m clearly not.”

“My god, you guys fight like a married couple all the time. Will you just kiss already?” Jongdae intercepted.

Before we could even react to Jongdae just said, we heard another voice joined us.

“Baek…”

It was Luna and she immediately caught all of our attention.

I searched her entire profile as I briefly looked at her from head to toe. It was just then I noticed what she was wearing. She was donned in a pretty, knee-levelled, light green dress paired with heeled, white oxford shoes. Her shoulder length hair was neatly tucked behind her ears.

She was already beautiful in my memory but the way she looked now was on another level of beautiful.

My peripheral vision caught Naeun trying to catch my attention. Tearing my focus from Luna, I turned to Naeun. Using her eyes, she signalled me as if waiting for a confirmation if the newcomer was the one that she thought it was. I nodded subtly which then earned a silent wow from her.

When I glanced at Baekhyun, just like the rest of us, his attention was on Luna as well. He probably felt me staring at him and turned my way, meeting my eyes.

“I’m sorry for barging in here…” She sounded hesitant, her hands clutching the handle of her purse.

The way the small room was so crowded yet so quiet was almost a miracle.

“I just wanted to check if you’re fine.” She added, gazing at Baekhyun.

I caught Jongdae giving Minseok a nudge which I was sure meant that they had to leave. Baekhyun, probably seeing the act tilted his head down.

I stood on my feet.

“Seol, don’t leave.” Baekhyun said, his voice above a whisper which made me sure that I was the only one who heard it.

“Uh...Naeun?” Jongdae was the first one to speak among the three. “I think we better have your arm checked since we’re here, eh?”

“What happened to her arm?” Minseok asked, looking and sounding clueless.  

“It almost left her body.” Jongdae answered.

“What?” Minseok wondered, checking Naeun’s arm.

“Let’s just go, okay.” Dae insisted.<

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