The Third

Waves

 


For the next few hours, they spoke of things that were unrelated to love and unrelated to life. They talked about turtles again, about the aquarium, and planned out what they could do afterwards if they weren’t able to terminate the aquarium project after all. Minhee suggested that they join hands with Myungsoo and led a protest in front of the city council for three days straight, which Sung Gyu didn't agree on, not with hot weather of the summer coming right around the corner. He suggested disrupting the project by vandalising the premises, hiring hitmen to traumatise the company people involved in the project, all of which happened to leave Minhee in a laughing fit. As one bottle of wine seemed to finish itself on its own, and as another was popped open and poured into their glasses again, their conversations also changed. They talked about his birthday next, about all the ways that he could disrupt Dong Woo and Sung Yeol’s birthday surprise. He knew that they would be devastated. If anything, both of them wouldn’t speak to him for a week after then. They laughed at all the possibilities, and complained about half of them. Through and through, they slowly approached the unchartered territory again. When they talked about love and life again, this time with relation to Sung Gyu, unbeknownst to both their realisation, the two had come to a proximity so close, closer than they thought they should ever be.

The reason why they hardly talked about Sung Gyu’s despondent love life was that there was hardly anything to talk about. He just wasn’t someone who could stay committed to it, at least not in the way that he could stay committed to his work and, although he wouldn’t admit it in words, the way that he was committed to Choi Minhee. The last relationship he had was an uncountable number of years ago, with Kang Nayeon, his previous research-assistant-turned-love interest which couldn’t last longer than six months. Fortunately for him, that was just as long as her contract under him was as well. But that wasn’t to say that it didn’t leave an emotional strain on him. Maybe he liked her; he liked her company, he liked the way that she made him feel. But all throughout that time, Sung Gyu felt, unmistakably so, that something significant was missing between them. Things happened, their lives unexpectedly changed.  It was only after everything with Nayeon happened and came to an end, that he came to understand it like a hard blow across his face. He would never be able to love any other woman in his life in the way that he loved Choi Minhee.

Minhee, undeniably so, was the only woman that had stayed in his life the longest. His parents divorced when he was only nine years old, and after their separation, he had grown up with his father as his sister lived with his mother. He didn’t exactly have a good relationship with him, although he loved his mother very dearly. The distance between them was too much to handle, physically, emotionally. He’d thought, since then, that he’d grown a sorrowful inability to love a woman again. But that was proven to be untrue after he met Minhee. 

It wasn’t that he and Minhee didn’t have a history between them before they became the closest friends that they were. They did, and that was a history that they never really talked about. 

Somewhere during their time at college together, on one drunken night after a party that he could hardly remember, they ended up making out on a bench deep into the night. He could still remember the saltiness of the wind that night, the way he tasted it, along with the bitterness of alcohol upon her lips. He could remember holding her and kissing her for a very long time, and how they didn’t even feel it as hours passed by. The feel of her hair, long, wavy and auburn, was still vivid in his mind; so was the way that she hummed onto his lips, gasped upon feeling his hand on her waist, how she met his eyes and held his gaze for a moment too long. It was her who invited him to her room that night. Hers was the closest. She said. And they never even considered the consequences. Maybe  they were meant to be, maybe this was meant to happen, he thought, even as they rid of each other's clothes and even as he made love to her, lovingly, passionately, through the night. 

The reality hit him only upon waking up the next morning and when he saw her  in the daylight again. It was Choi Minhee; a painful realisation.  It was still her, his best friend, the one woman that he was so afraid to lose. So that morning as they sat awkwardly outside the clinic, waiting for her turn to get the morning after pill, he thought about it so many times and told her as gently and quietly  as he could, ‘let's imagine that this never happened’. And she agreed. They’d never spoken of it since then, and their short lived relationship as lovers ended there. 

But that never stopped him from loving her.

“I saw Nayeon loitering in the west wing the other day” Minhee told him, casually mentioning his ex girlfriend without much thought. He too was slightly buzzy in his head to take offence in her words. After all, Nayeon wasn’t particularly a bad memory for him. If anything, he felt indifferent towards her, and that was how he knew that what he’d felt for her for those six months was anything but love. “I’ve seen her many times around here, actually” Minhee looked at him through narrowed eyes. “Do you think she’s up to something?”

“Is she RA-ing for anyone?” He returned, curious himself. “I haven’t heard much from her...only that she’s dating the sporty lad from Social Sciences”

The social sciences faculty was on the other side of the island, a little further away from where the faculty of natural sciences was. And Nayeon was a graduate from Busan university, so unless she was working here, yet again, there couldn’t be any other reason why she’d frequent their side of the campus again.

“Really? The football guy? Woohyun?” Minhee returned in disbelief and looked ahead. “Wow….I mean, he’s not a bad guy or anything, but I’d never be able to handle someone like him”

Sung Gyu retired with a soft chuckle and had a slug of his drink. “I guess it’s always been her type. The greasy, weird men”

“But he’s handsome” Minhee went on, nodding to herself. A moment, and she looked over at him. “Maybe her type is Handsome young academics”

“So you’re telling me that I wasn’t one” He replied, playfully raising his brows, which made her laugh in response. 

“She dated you, Sung Gyu...for six months”

Sung Gyu smiled, lowered his head and said nothing else in return. Nayeon was an unexpected turn in his life. A beautiful woman she was, and incredibly talented. Perhaps it was her quick wit and meticulous ways that had him attracted to her, and he hadn’t realised the depth of his feelings for Minhee by then. It was way before she was first diagnosed, so his life had that necessary capacity to let Nayeon fit in just fine. It was him who asked her out first, in the oddest, strangest way. They had presented the abstract of his paper, and as they exited the hall, walking side by side, it suddenly occurred to him that he was wildly attracted to the way that she tucked her hair behind her ear, the way she carried herself, her confidence, her way with words, and thought, perhaps, she was someone that he would have loved to have as a little more than just a partner. She laughed and admitted that she’d had the biggest crush on him when he’d told her how he felt, and they’ve hit on just fine since then. Nayeon and him spent most of their nights wrapped around each other, watching the waves rolling on the shore beside his place, and sometimes they quietly wondered how their future would be. For that few months, Sung Gyu didn’t talk to Hotteokkie as often as he did before. He had better company, someone he could laugh and talk for hours with, that he could kiss and make love to. But it was also the time, unbeknownst to him, that he had slowly drifted away from Minhee.

And it was also around then, that life started to change, drastically, for Minhee as well.

“Do you still think about her? Nayeon, I mean” Minhee asked him cautiously. He hadn’t talked about her much, but now that they were on the topic, he finally found himself wondering the same thing. Did he ever think about her now? Did he, as often as he did before?

“No, not really” The answer was as clear as glass for him. “In fact, she hadn’t come to my mind for a long time. She is just an ex girlfriend” He said with a sigh, looked over at her and tried to smile. “Some things just aren’t meant to be, Minhee. And she was just one of them”

Minhee hummed and looked at her entangled hands. It was deep into the night by then, and lights from the city had dulled down, making the ocean look like a soundly sleeping beast. Out in a distance, he could see the blinking yellow and blue lights of a ship, headed on its way to the harbour. 

“I still think that she broke up because of me” Minhee spoke out after a while. Her words brought back a painful sting in his heart again, a surge of memories that he had let to be buried in his past came back to the surface again.

“That’s not true, Minhee, I told you didn’t I? It isn’t true” He returned, an unexpected level of grimness in his tone. Minhee only smiled, albeit sadly, and continued to gaze down at the ground as her hand drew odd patterns on the sand upon the wood.

When Sung Gyu first realised that Minhee wasn’t being herself, with a heart heavy of concern, he had returned to her side. She was diagnosed a few weeks after, and both their lives took a complete topsy turvy since then. It was all about treatments and hospital visits afterwards, and for Minhee who didn’t have any family or close friends to fall back on in the difficult times, Sung Gyu became her only saving grace. He started to spend most of his time with her, taking care of her, driving her around and comforting her at every time possible, and the dynamics of his life too, changed shape. He had to postpone most of his other academic work for her, and focused as much as he could on her recovery. It was perhaps around that time that Sung Gyu realised how exactly he felt in his heart, how it wasn’t Nayeon but Minhee who’d been the one all along. He fell out of love with Nayeon. It was inevitable at that time. He drifted away from her. He knew that he should have done it differently, for Nayeon didn’t take their quiet fall-apart very well. A few weeks into their break up, Nayeon went around spreading all across the campus that he was cheating on her, that he was cheating on her with his best friend. While Minhee did not want her fellow academic colleagues to know of her condition yet, both of them were left with no other choice but for the words to spread out like a wildfire. 

“I think she really liked you...and she said so herself, didn’t she?” Minhee finally looked up at him and met his eyes. “Although it wasn’t true, that’s how she felt, Sung Gyu...and I…” She turned away from him and looked back at the sea. “I shouldn’t let her feel that way”

He allowed her words to be processed in his mind and let out a sigh. “That’s just bull” He said and reached for his glass, from which he took a large slug. “She shouldn’t have done that in the first place, Minhee. The time wasn’t right, and her, of all the people, should have been more understanding than that...that’s how anyone with a right mind would react”

“We can’t exactly blame her, can we?” Minhee went on in a small voice. “She was forced into that situation...and it shouldn’t have happened to her” She let out a heavy sigh and looked ahead. “Sometimes I feel really terrible, you know. I wondered how your life would have been if you never met me”

There it was again, what often happened when she let her heart lose on him. She would always end up blaming herself. She would call herself a burden that he’d never felt she was.  She’d convince herself that she’d taken something significant away from his life. But the truth of the matter was that Sung Gyu believed, and strongly so, that Minhee was indeed the most significant, the most important thing that had ever happened to him. If it wasn’t for her, his life would have indeed been different, but-,

“Then it wouldn’t be me, Minhee” Sung Gyu reminded her, just like he’d done myriad times, whenever this happened. He turned to her and met her eyes. “I wouldn’t be me without you”

Minhee responded to this with laughter. “Sung Gyu, you’re perfect as you are, with or without me” She said with a shake of head. 

“I doubt that” He went on, raising his brows. “If I hadn’t met you, I would be that scared little boy who first came to the campus and cried every time he got too close to the dock…”

This made her splutter. “That was just that one time,”

“But still?” He went on, smiling gently at her. “I wouldn’t have even dared to swim in the sea let alone dive and rescue with you...I’m here, all because of you”

“You’re giving me too much credit right now”

He shook his head. “I’m just telling the truth,” He continued. “If not for you, I wouldn’t even be in this place, Minhee. I would have taken the engineering course and left the island by now. I wouldn’t even be here, doing what we do”

There was a moment of silence, during which she seemed to contemplate his words.

She nodded in the end, a little smile on her lips. “Maybe you’re right” She said, lifted her head and looked into a distance, perhaps thinking back to a long, colorful past they shared. “And I wouldn’t be here too….if not for you”

“That makes us even” He replied, although in truth, her surviving was what gave him space to breathe again.

She smiled. “Yeah...I guess it does”


 

With just two days away from Sung gyu’s birthday, Sung Gyu went about his day as usual. He had breakfast with Dong Woo and Sungyeol, which Minhee couldn’t join as she claimed to be going to Busan for a matter so personal that she didn’t even stop for a second to tell him about anything. She did have quite many of those personal things that she refused to let him know by any means, and he didn’t really push it either. It was her life. But that wasn’t to say that he wasn’t concerned, for there was very little that he knew now of her treatments during remission post surgery, all of which she kept mostly to herself. 

After breakfast, he had three classes in a row. He enjoyed doing the classes, and his students loved him too. He didn’t want the kids to feel like they were being lectured, endlessly, in a subject that had so much of practicality going on in it, so Sung Gyu tried his best to make it engaging with discussions and visualised learning, allowing them to do the material reading and assignments in their own time. But interactive learning also meant that his energy would be dropped to a nil by the end of one class. By the end of the third, Sung Gyu felt like he didn’t want to move from one spot, so he made a beeline straight to his office and had someone to deliver his lunch straight to him.

But Sung Gyu, as expected, couldn’t have peace for himself. He had just dug into his meal (It was Tonkatsu Thursday) when his office phone rang, and Sung gyu froze, knowing that it was a call that he couldn’t possibly evade, not even the excuse being his lunch break. He his fingers, feeling disappointed that he would miss his lunch for the second day in a row and picked up the phone. On the other end was the faculty dean, and he could tell by the tone of his voice that he wasn’t feeling exactly content.

“Professor Kim, please meet me at my office,” He said.

“Now, sir?” Sung Gyu dared to ask.

“Now” He replied gruffly, and he shuddered when the phone was slammed down, cutting off the line.

“Nice” He muttered to himself, pressing his hands to his head, his fingers through his hair. “Brilliant” Sung Gyu already knew what this was going to be about, and it's the last thing he needed on his plate right now.


 

Kim Sung Gyu didn’t always run into trouble; in fact, he rarely did. But whenever he actually does, it's in the worst way possible. 

He took one last look at himself on the reflection of his empty notice board, fixed his tie and his hair and took a deep breath. He had already made up what he was going to say and recited it a few times in his head. It was the leatherback nesting season, and if the aquarium took over their nesting site, it would put the endangered animals even more in the way of harm. And he couldn’t let them do that. Also, they disrespected Minhee and her years of hard work. He had no excuse for calling their researcher an . The next time he would make sure to use a kinder term. He deemed himself ready, smiled at his own reflection, and went on his way.

When Sung Gyu exited his office, the two of his teammates were already headed towards him, laughing between themselves. It angered him that they could play around and have fun while he was the one who always got dragged into messes like this.

“Oh hyung!” Dong Woo greeted, and Sung Yeol, mock-politely, gave him a deep bow. “What are you up to? It's lunch time?”

“It's Professor Kim” Sung Gyu corrected him, lifting his name tag in emphasis. “And no, I will never have peaceful lunches again”

He wasn’t angry at the two of them, if he was to be honest. He was angry at the stupid coorperate goons who really had the audacity to go and leave the incident in the dean’s ears. They really had no shame, even after disrespecting their expertise. This time, Sung Gyu was ready to fight them off even if it meant that he would lose his grants.

“ing Aqua life” He muttered to himself as he hurried past the others, and in the background he could hear Sung Yeol mutter ‘Whats up with him’, and Dongwoo sushing him, saying something about the dean. And he indeed got it right.

The dean of the natural sciences faculty was a small stout man in his early sixties with thin balding hair and a pair of eyes that looked like he’s seen the kind of things that he shouldn’t have. When Sung Gyu entered his office, he was sitting in his plush leather chair, the ocean rolling out behind the window panes. There were a pair of female students who looked visibly uncomfortable and scrambled past him and out of the office as soon as he stepped in, their expressions unreadable. Sung Gyu didn’t even want to question what could have been happening before he’d arrived. 

“Ah, professor Kim, come in, come in!” Greeted the dean, and his voice was certainly a lot different from how he last heard it over the phone. He could vaguely say that whatever that happened with the female students, it had definitely pulled him out of his foul mood.

Sung Gyu bowed in greeting and approached the table in two strides. He wasn’t hoping to stay for too long so he didn’t bother taking a seat. The dean regarded him for a moment, smiling strangely with his hands put together upon the table.

“So, how has it been, Professor Kim? How is your research going?” He asked him in a faux-pleasant tone.

Sung gyu couldn’t care less for the small talks that he answered as briefly as he could.

“Everything has been fine, Professor Jung” He replied.

“I see…” A moment of thoughtful silence, and “Professor Kim...I heard that there was an incident with the representatives of the Aquarium project” He said, answering Sung Gyu’s suspicions. The dean met his eyes across the room. “Is that true?”

“It is” He replied without a second thought.

“They say that you’ve had….quite a disagreement with the location of the building site...the east coast, is it?”

Sung Gyu nodded, all prepared to give his full fledged, scientifically proven explanation. But all before he could even breathe a word out, the Dean pushed on.

“The university has already agreed to allow the project to take place on the east coast, Professor Kim. It was a discussion that was held a while back as the land area is property of the university, and under the discretion of the board of trustees, the decision was made”

Sung Gyu dropped the hands that he’d raised, about to give his explanation, and let out a heavy sigh of frustration. Of course that would have happened, for the interest of the environmental activists and ocean life conservative unit had never been in line with the university. For them, it was the cost and the profit that stood of utmost importance, and even if it meant that they would sacrifice the life of an endangered animal, they will take the chance anyway as long as it gave them profit in high numbers.

But that didn’t mean that Sung gyu or his team was going to quit fighting. 

“How could the university decide to sell off a strip of land that is specifically seperated as the nesting grounds of an endangered animal?” Sung Gyu pushed on, not bothering to hide the anger in his voice. “We’re the scientists responsible of conserving them, Dean Jung, and for this to be facilitated by the university itself is just plain wrong”

Dean Jung climbed up on his feet, and he appeared exceptionally small compared to himself. But his presence was still significant and overpowering in his large expanse of a room.

“Professor Kim, you’re simply blowing this out of proportion” he continued matter of factly. “It is not the entire land area of the east coast that would be taken for the construction but a part of it, and your responsibility was to give your expert opinion on how they could separate the construction from the nesting site”

For someone who led the faculty of natural sciences, Dean Jung appeared exceptionally small minded with regards to ocean species. 

“It is not us who decide where the nesting sites would be” Sung Gyu returned with a heavy sigh. “Its the mother animal, and in this season we’re estimating a large number of them to nestle on the shore, so we need a large expanse-,”

“Then make an estimate on how much land area is needed as well!” The dean returned, his voice going up an octave higher. “If you can estimate when they will come, and how many would come, with all the knowledge in your team, you can make an estimate on the land expanse as well, surely?”

Sung Gyu gripped both his fists on either side, and it took everything from him to not box his employer across his face. “I’m afraid it's not possible, Dean Jung” He replied 

“How...is that not possible?” Dean Jung’s voice went even higher. “It should be possible, it should be made possible, Professor Kim, that is why we put together a team of experts on this, and if you’re unable to do as ordered, I will take it that you have failed in your responsibilities”

Sung Gyu raised his head and looked heavenwards, wondering if there were any deities who could possibly punch Dean Jung on his face in his stead. “This is our expert advice” Sung Gyu told him, not prepared to back down yet. “The project could be taken elsewhere, perhaps towards the harbour where there are other popular tourist attractions...there’s absolutely no reason why we need to hang onto using the east coast which we have already deemed as ecologically important”

The dean, not backing off himself, made a few short strides towards him. “Professor Kim, if you are unable to make a decision that is feasible on the end of the university as well, I’m afraid you and your team should not be involved in this anymore”

In his and his team’s perspective, there couldn’t have been a better decision. They could carry out protests against the project then, they could take any action possible to conserve the coast as long as they weren’t on their side. It would just make things a hundred times easier.

“Very well, then. My team or myself will not be involved in this project anymore”

Dean Jung rounded the table and returned to his seat. In the background, the sun kept its ever brilliant shine, the ocean a vivid blue, all unbeknownst to the horrors that this very man was about to commit.

“As you wish” said the Dean, smiled a strange, cruel one and fell back into his seat again. “It is not that we don’t have enough experts in this field in the university, professor Kim. We only wished to select the best, but I suppose it didn’t work out very well”

Sung Gyu took no offence in it, as it appeared to him that it wasn’t expertise in the field that the university or the company required now, but people who would side with their biased and capitalist opinions. So he only gave the other a quiet, deep bow. It was easier than he expected, getting through this conversation. He could get back to his well deserved lunch before the break could end.

“If that is all, sir-,” Sung Gyu started, stepping back, eager to return to his office again. But much to his chagrin, Dean Jung certainly had more in the store for him.

“That certainly isn’t all, Professor Kim'' Said the dean, stopping him on his tracks again. He was back to his intimidating stance, looking at Sung gyu across the room with narrowed eyes. Sung Gyu had a vague idea what they were getting at now.

“I hear that in your little...disagreement, that you’ve been quite disrespectful towards the staff of the aquarium project” 

He cursed them in all the different words that he could think of in his mind, while outwardly, Sung Gyu continued to keep calm. “Something like that...may have happened” He replied and took a deep breath.

“Well, they believe that its rather unprofessional of you, coming from a college professor as well”

Sung Gyu did, in all honesty, agree with that. But he also believed that there did come certain moments where that kind of unprofessionalism was called for. 

“I only retaliated to them being disrespectful towards my team” Sung Gyu sincerely replied.

The dean hummed and rested his chin on his hand. “Care to explain?”

“To Doctor Choi'' He informed him. “She was continuously dismissed and mocked during the discussion, and I only retaliated because I could not tolerate that kind of disrespect towards my teammates, Sir”

“To doctor Choi” The dean went on. Sung Gyu said nothing, as the tone of his voice didn’t really sit right with him. Dean Jung rearranged himself in his plush chair, the sounds of his grunts were followed by himself rubbing against the leather.

“Well, Professor Kim, Doctor Choi should have come to the understanding now that it is expected if she were to remain in this profession. She’s certainly not the first person that it would happen to and she wouldn’t be the last. It happens to all of us-,”

“It had never happened to me” Sung Gyu returned, feeling his rage boiling inside him. Sung gyu could take any kind of disrespect directed towards him, but he would never tolerate that when Minhee became the centre of attack.

“It happens to the best of us” The dean corrected himself. “And she should learn to tolerate it. You behaving like that is not going to help her grow, would it?”

Sung Gyu tightened his fist even more. “I did what I should do'' He spat back. “Doctor Choi, or anyone shouldn’t be treated that way”

“And yet?” Dean jung raised his brows. “It still happens….” Dean Jung looked down at his wrist watch and pushed himself away from his table. “Now...I have to run” He looked up at him with a patronizing smile. “I have a meeting to attend to, otherwise I would have continued this little chat on equal rights or whatever...but time doesn’t allow me to, so…”

Sung Gyu came to understand that he had single handedly put an end to the conversation, and also that talking to Dean Jung was equivalent to talking to a bland brick wall. No good would happen if he continued to argue with him. Now that he and his team were out of the project, they could momentarily find peace, and that was probably the only productive outcome of the ten minutes that he’d just wasted. 

“Right, yes” Sung Gyu nodded and turned around, proceeding to take his own leave. He was tired and hungry and he already had too much on his plate. If dean Jung pushed his patience even longer, he could swear that he would do things that he probably wouldn’t even regret. 

“Write them an email or something, apologise!” Dean Jung called after him as he made his way towards the door. “And make it sound genuine, Professor Kim, although you don’t really care-,”

Sung Gyu slammed the door behind him, cutting him off mid sentence. He stepped out, stood against the wall and swore under his breath, letting out all the anger that he’d been keeping suppressed for the past ten minutes. He exited the corridor, hurried on his feet, and happened to run into SungYeol and DongWoo again who pretended not to have waited for them, as if idling in the quadrangle on a busy Thursday afternoon was a common thing to do.

“Ah Hyung!” Dong Woo called as he raised up on his feet. “What happened?”

Seeing the concern in Dong Woo’s eyes made him feel momentarily calm again. “We’re out of the project…” Sung Gyu replied breathlessly. “I demanded ourselves out”

“Nice-!”

“But the project will continue” Sung Gyu let out a sight and traced the eyes of either of them. “But now that we can openly protest against it, let's do what we can do”

“Let's start with teaching those two idiots a lesson,” Sung Yeol said, already cracking his knuckles.

“No, no, no, no, no” Sung Gyu shook his head. “We need a better plan than that. We’re not going against people, but a faulty decision that they have made. We don’t care for the aquarium, we just don’t want it in our nesting grounds...that's what we need a plan for”

“Right” SungYeol nodded and put down his hand. “So what do we do?”

“Petitions, protests, marches, awareness programs…” 

“Doctor Choi would be good at planning that stuff” Dong Woo put in. 

“She would,” Sung Gyu agreed. “Speaking of whom…” He muttered as he pulled out his phone. It was just a few minutes before the lunch hour could end, and he had another class to attend to. The class which was usually done by Minhee, he would be taking over in her absence from work. There was still no response from her, she had been MIA since that morning, all his attempts to reach her, except one, being unsuccessful. She was going to Busan, and that’s only as far as she had told him. And what worried him the most was that it was also where she went to hospital as well, and she would never tell him the truth, had it been the case.

“I need to call her'' He muttered to nobody in particular, and located her number on his phone. With the phone pressed to his ear, he turned to face the others. “Talk to Myung Soo about it, get his input as well...I’ll talk to you two later”

He walked away from them, back to his office so he could have the last few minutes of his break time to indulge on his Tonkatsu that had been left cold. His phone was still ringing in his ear, which soon led him to her voicemail. Not ready to give up on it just yet, knowing fully well that he might be going overboard with his calls, he rang her again.

It was only in this second attempt that Minhee finally picked up the phone. Her voice was quiet, yet he could catch the obvious echo in the background of her end. 

“There are about 500 missed calls from you, Sung Gyu. This better be important” Minhee told him, sans greetings, the moment that she picked up.

“You weren’t available the whole morning, Minhee, I’m just rightfully worried now” He told her, he could feel his own relief in the tone of his voice.

“There’s nothing to worry about, I’m fine” She reassured him.

“Well, where are you then?”

“Me?” She asked as if there was anybody else in their conversation. “I’m at the hospital actually”

Sung Gyu halted in the middle of the room, his heart pounding. He was right. “Hospital?” He echoed, not bothering to hide his concern. “What are you doing at the hospital?”

“Nothing to be worried about” She returned, a rather futile attempt to calm him again. 

“Anything about hospitals is worrying, Minhee” He glanced down at his watch. He had about twenty more minutes until the class started, and if he drove over the speed limits, maybe-

“I’ll come there,” He told her.

“To the hospital?”

“Where else?”

“But I thought you were taking over my class,” Minhee reminded him.

“I am” He sighed, his hand resting on his waist. “But I can spare a few minutes, I’ll pick you up-,”

“It's probably going to take long, Sung Gyu, but I’ll be fine” Minhee pushed on, but her calmness did nothing to control the burning fears in his heart. There were millions of thoughts in his mind, all of which were on one thing that he hated to think about. 

“Why?” So he asked her.

“Because my turn hadn’t come yet” She returned. 

“What are you waiting in line for?”

Minhee let out a heavy, audible sigh. “Look, Sung Gyu, I’m going to be fine and it’s-it’s nothing to do with what you’re thinking about, so you don’t have to worry about it...I drove myself here, so I can come back myself. I’ll just-I’ll drop you a text when I’m home, okay?”

Although it wasn’t exactly easy to convince himself to keep his worries at bay, she was right, and he had to believe her. That time had passed and it was long since then. He had to let her live her life.

“Okay...okay then” He muttered, pressing his thumb and forefinger between his brows. “Just-just call me when you’re home”

“Don’t be mean to my kids” Minhee reminded her. “They’re just new”

“Right” He nodded. “I’ll be nice”

“Thanks...and thanks for covering for me” She replied in a rather cheerful tone. “Now I have to dash, they’d call me in in a minute, talk to you later, okay”

And like that, the line fell into a dead silence again. 


 

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