a birthday celebration.

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Yumi’s eyes remained locked on the little one as he ran for the door. She caught a glimpse of the boy’s father, who was quite a popular topic discussed among the daycare staff. Of course she was dying to put a face on this person, with all the juicy gossip surrounding him. But her anticipation soon washed blank with confusion. Every muscle in her body froze when she finally register who the mystery man was. Yumi opened to speak but could only utter the bare minimum. 


“Sehun…” she shook her colleague’s shoulder.  “What is your nephew’s full name?   


Turning her whole body to finally face him, she continued. “Is it Byun Taeho?”


It was not typical of him to be at a loss for words like this, but upon witnessing in the instilled fear in her eyes, Sehun grew conscious. He noticed how dreary his colleague turned since she popped the question and putting a few puzzle pieces together was not that difficult. Without a doubt, Yumi began retreating her steps once she saw Taeho approaching, his little arm extending out to reach for his dad’s hand. It almost came automatically for the girl to step behind Sehun, her timid fingers tugging at the janitor’s clothing out of panic. 


“I told you, uncle Sehun! My dad’s here!” Taeho announced proudly. The kid wore a cheeky grin as he went for his half eaten pancake on the table, a treat he saved for this purpose.


“Ms. Jung made this!”


There were literal sparkles in his eyes when he spoke to the adult, Taeho was bursting with liquid sunshine from within. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a nervous soul fought to stay absolutely hidden at all cost. Yumi searched for an opening to make her escape only to be caught by a tiny hand. 


“Ms. Jung, where are you going?” 


Looking down at her hand, she found Taeho’s puppy-like orbs staring right back at her instead. With one hand still hanging on to Sehun’s work uniform and the other in the boy’s grip, her chance of escaping slipped before her eyes. Baekhyun grew worried of his son’s behavior, seeing how clingy he had gotten to the individual behind his brother-in-law. He decided to step in, first by pulling Taeho away from the kitchen staff before apologizing to her. It finally dawned on him when he made eye contact with the girl, the instant switch in expression was caught on by an attentive spectator alongside the pair. Sehun stood back quietly to observe how things were unfolding, something about the two irked him and he does not know why yet. 




“It’s so nice to meet you, Taeho’s dad. Your son is a great kid,” Yumi hurriedly interrupted the man before he could finish his sentence. She held out her hand for a handshake, although the nervous trembles had her pulling it back in an instant. 


To be fair, her mind went blank for a split second when those words escaped her lips. The last thing she wanted, was to draw more attention to their past and especially that part where she shamelessly asked for an assumed, married man’s phone number. Yumi stole a hasty glance at her former teacher, his lips had since drawn down into a perceptible frown. He remained stolid after the reintroduction, neither one of them knew how to proceed with the conversation.


“I should probably clean up now, my shift’s almost over.”


Yumi scurried off in the opposite direction, her mind still heavily distracted by different scenarios. Exactly how much has changed in five years, she wondered. A lot, actually. 


Her abrupt leave left the two men scanning around for answers. Sehun was particularly suspicious already, but have yet to unravel his thoughts. The laughter-filled space felt oddly muted with the tension built around them. Somehow seeing Baekhyun’s change in expression irritated the younger one tremendously, it almost looked as if he cared. It may sound ridiculous but the latter never once witnessed a hint of empathy in his brother-in-law’s eyes, until now that is.


“Taeho, let’s go get your stuff in the classroom.”


Unaware of the underlying tension between the men, a daycare teacher stepped in to take the little boy back to class. Taeho nodded obediently, wiggling his tiny wrist free from his dad’s grip before skipping over to his teacher’s side. Now with one less body, it felt even more unnecessary for the two to continue standing around like this in a room full of kids. Refusing to even acknowledge his brother-in-law’s existence, the janitor walked away without saying a word. In his peripheral vision, Baekhyun had already stormed off in the same direction he last saw his colleague heading. 


“.” Sehun cursed lowly, his steps halted for a moment of deliberation before retreating back. He needed answers. 



In the spare time he had, Baekhyun began tracking down his former student. He was fortunate enough to know his way around the daycare and if she were to leave her shift soon, Yumi should be heading for the staff lounge. As expected, he let out a sigh of relief before picking up his pace once the girl was spotted. 


“Yumi!” He called out to stall himself some time down the extensive hallway. 


Following the direction of his voice, Yumi found him closing in on her. Even when the subconscious voice in her head screamed for the girl to move along, her limbs refused to accommodate. Yumi eventually reached the point of no escape when he latched onto her arm.


“Don’t go,” he breathed.


“I won’t…you can let go of my arm.” 


The husky drawl in her tone drew a clear line, Baekhyun now loosening up his grip in return. It was never his intention to hide anything from Yumi, he simply never expected to bump into her on so many occasions. At one point, he accepted the fact that they two may never cross path again. 


“Why did you act like we were strangers?” 


Sparing no room for needless silence, Baekhyun took the opportunity to clear up the ordeal from earlier. Quite frankly, his former student had no answer for him. “I acted on impulse,” she shrugged the half truth.


“Yumi, look.” The man paused, trying his best to formulate a less egocentric response, if he may. “I meant to tell you that I’m married and Taeho—”


“That’s wonderful, I’m really happy for you,” Yumi cut him off, her smile was far from a congratulatory one, to say the least.


“You don’t have to explain anything to me,” she spoke once more with less emphasis in her voice. As she picked up her head to face him, Yumi was greeted by a nostalgic look, the same one he would sport whenever he grew worried of her troublesome self in the past. Again, those kind eyes were always her greatest weakness. “…it’ll make me feel more pathetic if you look at me with such pity eyes.” Yumi muttered. 


There was no reason for Baekhyun to feel any guilt, but he could not grasped why his heart felt repeatedly torn to shreds. He always had and may possibly always will have,

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Clockwork is officially on hiatus, I'm sorry :(
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