014

DERANGER
the sound of a snore escaping your lips wakes you up from your nap.
 
you raise your head from your book--international laws--and wipes your mouth, checking if there's any drool on the page.
 
you sigh. dammit.
 
how can you prepare for the bar if you keep falling asleep like this whenever you try to study?
 
you look out the window of your new apartment.
 
it's sunday, and you're alone.
 
you usually spend the weekends with donghae before, either staying indoors or going out. but now that you're on your own and supposedly have more free time, you feel like spending your newfound freedom on studying isn't the bargain you wanted when you broke up with him.
 
but what do you want to do then? you're thirty-three and still haven't figured out what you want in life.
 
what is wrong with you?
 
should you be a lawyer? own a business? get married and have kids?
 
you grimace at the thought.
 
that makes you somewhat envious of seulgi, who seems to know what she wants in life even at her age.
 
which reminds you...
 
you pick your phone and dialled a number.
 
"i have been waiting for you to call me since yesterday," is seulgi's greeting when she picks up after one ring.
 
"i told you. i need to study over the weekend."
 
"then why call me now?"
 
"i figured i needed another human being around to at least make me feel normal."
 
"ooh. wanna go to the mall and rehearse that friday-fitting-room scene we did?"
 
"that's..." you cover your eyes. "that's never happening again. ever."
 
"oh come on. please don't talk like you didn't enjoy it. my friend was all wet--"
 
"can we not talk about it?" you massage your temple this time. "i am only looking for some company right now. and for goodness' sake, i don't want to be in close proximity with any malls, particularly boutiques, in the next few days."
 
she chuckles. "i'd want to invite you here. but you know how my place isn't set up for hanging out. want me to come over instead?"
 
"only if you're not busy." you look around your apartment, making sure everything is tidy. "but if you have a hookup or another schedule, i'd rather not ruin that."
 
"no. no. i'm all good. i'm bored anyway. been waiting for you to call me since yesterday."
 
it could be a joke. but still, it made you smile. "i met up with my sister yesterday to have her prepare your medical certificate."
 
"ooh. thanks. did she get mad or something?"
 
"nah. she trusts me. but if it happens again, she'd surely ask."
 
"i see. please send my thanks to her. i'll thank her some other time, in some other ways, if fate wills us to meet."
 
"yah. don't talk about my sister in that way."
 
"what? i'm only saying--"
 
"i know you, kang seulgi, okay? not with my sister."
 
"possessive, eh?"
 
"i'll make sure you to fail you if you try something like that towards my sister."
 
"yah. you're no jam, professor bae!" she grunts. "anyway, i'll be there in thirty."
 
"bring something over, will you?"
 
"what do you prefer, a strap-on or a ?"
 
"ugh. seulgi."
 
---
 
you are now sure that seulgi has this certain effect on your life.
 
you don't know how she does it. but her presence gives you a sense of distraction and--ironically--focus.
 
when she arrived with some takeouts, canned drinks, and a kitkat chunky, you feel like you've invited a ray of sunshine into your flat to brighten up your day.
 
and despite seulgi's relentless teasing, you are contented she's there.
 
she hasn't done anything to hit on you, not even touch you. she's just there, listening, nodding, and giving comments when you ask for it.
 
after the meal, she volunteered to clean up the dishes and told you to go back to studying.
 
seulgi entertained herself with netflix after to give you privacy. surprisingly, you were able to cover more, absorbed more, in a lesser time compared to yesterday.
 
makes you wonder how she does that. why and how her mere presence has this effect on you?
 
you're not sure if that's a good thing or not.
 
for you and for her.
 
because like her, you have a set of issues in your life. entering a new relationship is the last thing you have in mind.
 
especially if it's with someone like her.
 
you can already imagine how your entire clan would react if they found out what you have been up to these past few days--having a casual ual relationship with a person you barely know.
 
a person who is a woman like you.
 
a woman who is your student in the university where you work and is eleven years younger.
 
what has gotten into you?
 
you are starting to get concerned with your growing fondness towards her and your age difference.
 
she's only twenty-two, and you're thirty-three. you know seulgi's still bound to meet new people, learn more about life, and grow and mature more.
 
it could mean leaving this place someday to pursue a career, a person, or a new life.
 
sadly, it could also mean getting over you someday.
 
---
 
seulgi is close to finishing her second movie when you decide you've had enough of studying.
 
although you know you need to push yourself more, you feel like you need to take a breather because your head already feels heavy.
 
besides, it's getting dark outside. you need to think of dinner for yourself and your visitor.
 
you rise to your feet. the scratch of the chair against the floor gets seulgi's attention.
 
"you done?"
 
your hum is tired. you make your way to the couch, dropping down beside her.
 
she observes you for a moment. "name a thing that would instantly brighten up your day."
 
you rub your eyes as you think about it. "flowers. i'm into flowers lately."
 
"which flower?"
 
"tulips. purple tulips. what about you?"
 
"pringles. a dozen can of pringles."
 
you look at her, an eyebrow raised. she laughs.
 
"are you alright?" her arm extends to tuck some of your stray hair behind your ear.
 
"yeah. just tired."
 
"want to rest? i can leave now if you want some alone time."
 
"no. it's almost dinnertime. i won't let you go home without feeding you at least."
 
she grabs her phone. "i'll order takeouts--"
 
you reach out to snatch the phone from her hand, pulling away and hiding the device in your folded arms.
 
"no. i want to cook food for you. that's what a good hostess does," you say.
 
she stares at you. "are you aware that you look tired as hell? you can cook food for me some other time when you're less tired, okay?"
 
"but what should i feed you?"
 
"why don't we order food from the 7-eleven across the street? i can step out quickly if you want."
 
"okay. but i'll pay this time. my wallet is in my bag over there." you point in the direction of your rack.
 
"i'd rather not touch your wallet, irene. i've got money."
 
"no. i should be the one paying here cus i am the professor, and you are my student."
 
"eh? and who set that rule?"
 
"i don't know. some people who are probably dead by now."
 
"you know how i don't care about the rules, irene."
 
"but you're still a kid and doesn't have work yet. i will pay for this."
 
seulgi sighs. "okay. i admit i don't have work yet. but i am no longer a kid."
 
"you're a kid." you smirk, knowing that you're somehow pulling some strings. "you're just a kid."
 
she runs a palm over her face and looks at you with a serious face.
 
then she attacks you, ferociously tickling your sides.
 
"seulgi-yah!" you laugh, but she continues tickling you. "yah! stop! stop!"
 
"who's the kid now, huh?" she holds your wrists and pins you down to stop you from pushing her. "may i remind you that this kid is someone you are allowing to take your clothes off."
 
you stare at her, still panting from the struggle a moment ago.
 
she smiles and pulls back, leaning on the other side of the couch.
 
"do you know that you talk like you're drunk when you're tired?" she opens her arms wide. "come here."
 
you stare at her, gauging if it's a trick or not.
 
she shrugs, inviting you in. and since it's too tempting to resist, and your head's all foggy now, you scoot closer, wrapping your arms around her waist.
 
you release a relieved exhale as you rest your head on her chest.
 
she cups your elbow, it with her fingers. "comfy?"
 
you groan, shifting to press yourself against her and nuzzling your head further into the crook of her neck and shoulder. then you drape one leg over her lap.
 
"better?" she asks, caging you in her arms.
 
your body relaxes into her embrace. "mm-mm."
 
"good," she says. then there's a soft kiss on top of your head. "now, relax. i'll be here when you wake up."
 
that is enough to send you into a trance--falling asleep in seconds.
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