002

DERANGER
you clearly remember the first time you laid eyes on her.
 
it was the start of the semester, and you're having your first class of the day with these university students.
 
she came in late wearing jeans and a blue university sweater. you would have dismissed it if it weren't for her abruptly stopping on her tracks to look at you.
 
getting distracted, you ask her if there's any problem.
 
she said she wanted to apologise for arriving late.
 
you said okay and dismissed her.
 
she stood there unmoving for a moment before moving to sit down.
 
you feel her eyes on you the entire time.
 
---
 
you aren't the type to give too much attention to your students. not that you don't care about them. you surely give your best whenever you discuss the modules you're supposed to.
 
but like the usual school year, these people pass by your life and leaves as the semester end. you prefer not to be too close to any one of them.
 
however, kang seulgi seems to have plans of sticking around. due to her multiple absences, you dropped her out of the class as part of the university protocol. and to your surprise, she's under your class again the following semester.
 
you didn't put much thought into it. she's not reaching out to talk to you either to explain why those unexcused absences occur.
 
but secretly, you're glad you're seeing her again.
 
---
 
it was that friday night, three months ago, when you first met her outside the university.
 
your cousin, taeyeon, and her wife tiffany, opened up a gay bar downtown and invited you to join them in the opening night. you've been particularly close with this cousin of yours, the reason you accepted the invite despite knowing your parents would frown upon it.
 
yeri, taeyeon's younger sister, is also there along with some of her friends.
 
it was around eight in the evening when taeyeon's best friend, yuri, came in to join you along with her colleague, yoona, and a familiar person you were surprised to see there.
 
it was her.
 
the three of them walked inside the bar in their coat and tie attire. the dim lighting inside the expanse made them look like suit models strutting down the red carpet.
 
you've always admired how yuri and yoona carry themselves in those suits. it's part of their work to go formal, being sales agent and all. but as for kang seulgi, you are the reason she's in that suit today.
 
and you are glad you required your class to be in business attire every meeting.
 
you were introduced. you found out she's yuri's friend. you shake her hand, and she smiles at you.
 
"professor, i'd never thought i'd see you in a place like this," she comments. and that's when everyone got curious how you two are acquainted.
 
you explained your presence in the bar, saying how you're related to the owners.
 
she raises an eyebrow at you, and you quickly dismiss her by saying you have a boyfriend.
 
she shrugs and proceeds with conversing with other people. you're lucky she's occupied as it gives you the advantage of taking a real good look at her, which you can't do in class.
 
she bows and greets all the new people introduced to her. you didn't miss how her cheeky smile makes her eyes somewhat disappear.
 
you certainly didn't find it cute.
 
and if you notice how her eyes keep lingering a little longer on you, you pretend you're not aware.
 
tiffany commends how they all look hot in a suit. you silently agreed. but you didn't tell them how you think seulgi looks hotter after she took her coat off and loosened her tie.
 
you still pretend not to notice how often she glances your way.
 
the night ended for you shortly when donghae, your boyfriend, came to pick you up.
 
seulgi had an amused face when you introduced him to her. she gladly shakes hands with him.
 
tiffany and taeyeon ask donghae to join. he politely declines by saying you need to be off somewhere else.
 
you couldn't forget how seulgi's face looks somewhat upset when you're about to leave.
 
you and donghae leave not without them teasing you to buy a along the way.
 
he stayed in your apartment that night, and you told him about your day.
 
you told him about her, how you feel there's something in her you don't like. you can't pinpoint, but something doesn't sit well with you.
 
he says it could be your age gap. she's twenty-two. you're thirty-three.
 
whatever it is, you resort to the decision of not opening up yourself to her and maintaining your relationship as a student-professor.
 
you think it's safer for you.
 
it was weeks later when you finally admit to yourself that the resentment you felt was an attraction you weren't acknowledging.
 
---
 
nothing changed much during your classes.
 
she didn't make any effort to reach out or talk to you.
 
as for you, you try your best not to look her way even you can feel her eyes on you all the time.
 
---
 
you met her again outside university three weeks later.
 
same bar. same people.
 
but now that she's sitting in front of you, greeting you nicely and smiling warmly at you, you can't stop yourself from reciprocating the gesture.
 
and then you realise you missed her.
 
which is weird because you see her in class three times a week, an hour a day.
 
you shrugged the thought off immediately.
 
the night went by. you talk, laugh, and drink. your hands are itching to remove seulgi's tie when you see her taking her coat off.
 
you shake your head, blaming it on the drinks you've had.
 
maybe you should stop. donghae's picking you up in a bit, and you don't want to greet him in a drunken state.
 
fridays are your usual date nights with your boyfriend. being a site engineer means spending most of his days out of town to inspect their construction sites' progress. friday is when he's usually in town to report back to the main office.
 
your thoughts drift back to your peers when you hear taeyeon asks seulgi how many women she'd slept with last week.
 
seulgi smiles sheepishly and scratches her nape.
 
another mannerism you think is cute.
 
but they were teasing her relentlessly, so she answers, "two."
 
you scoff. so, she is that type, huh?
 
everyone thinks she's lying because taeyeon and yoona say she'd drastically reduced the number. tiffany and yuri bombarded her with questions.
 
and despite your attempt to show how you're not interested in the topic, focussing on your phone pretending to text your boyfriend, you have taken in all seulgi's answers.
 
yes, she's gay, and she sleeps around.
 
no, she doesn't have a girlfriend. she believes in love and romance, but she thinks she's too carefree to be in a relationship.
 
she usually meets girls in bars or the gym.
 
she has never brought a hook up in her place. motels are always the destination.
 
she doesn't "sleep" when she sleeps with women. she s them and leaves after. it's always a one-time thing for her.
 
your phone almost slips from your hand when she says her hooks ups with older and committed women are always wilder than with the single ones.
 
you feel your face warming up with the topic.
 
you excused yourself to go to the washroom. and then inside, you breathe in and stare at your reflection in the mirror.
 
why are her words affecting you?
 
why is she affecting you?
 
seulgi came in a few moments later, looking drunk, her dress shirt stained with catsup. she approaches the sink with uneven steps and acknowledges your presence with a "hey."
 
you may not be close, but you are a decent human being, so you ask her what happened.
 
"yuri's too drunk that she splurted the catsup on me instead of her plate," she says in a slurry way, reaching for the faucet to wash her hands.
 
you stare at her white dress shirt, your laundry-loving self already thinking of ways on how to wash it and make it clean white again.
 
she reaches out for the tissue and tries to wipe the stains off. there are some droplets on her sleeve, so you help her too.
 
because that is what kind people do.
 
you feel a tingling sensation in the pit of your stomach the moment you step into her space. you didn't mind. a fellow human being needs help, and that's what you're there for.
 
"did i ever make you feel uncomfortable earlier?" she asks after a few seconds of silence. you look up at her, but she's still busy wiping off the stains.
 
you ask yourself, how can she both be pretty and handsome even in that state?
 
she turns to you. you look away. you tell her it's okay, that it's her life and she can do anything she wants.
 
she laughs, and you feel a surge of pride because you are the reason behind that.
 
then you notice a lone catsup stain on the side of her neck.
 
you your lips and take in a deep breath.
 
"wanna it?" she smirks at you. you realise she's looking in the mirror and probably notice where your eyes are at. "go on. i won't tell your friends or anyone in school."
 
you know it's a tease, but you feel your insides boiling up.
 
you shake your head and scowl at her. she laughs. you tell her she can flirt with any woman in the world but you.
 
that nothing will ever happen between the two of you.
 
and that you have the power to fail her again in your class if she continues that attitude.
 
she smirks again, clearly not believing you.
 
isn't she so full of herself?
 
"you're so beautiful," she says in a way you know she's serious even if she's drunk. "if ever mister nice guy doesn't satisfy you down there," she pauses, nodding towards your crotch, "you know where to find me."
 
you are offended by now. you tell her you are not that kind of woman.
 
she chuckles again. "we all have our inner demon, professor. and you wouldn't have to hide that if you're with me."
 
you want to slap her, but she steps in closer and whispers something in your ear.
 
"don't worry. it'll be just between you and me. we can forget about what happened after. i promise you'll have a great time."
 
you push her away with your palms and look at her with disgust.
 
"just let me know when and i'm down for it," you hear her say as you walk out of the washroom.
 
you're embarrassed about what happened; you couldn't tell tiffany and taeyeon about it.
 
you're too embarrassed to admit it to donghae after he picked you up.
 
he made love to you that night, but you couldn't erase seulgi's image and voice from your head while he's ramming into you.
 
you think it helps because at least he got to finish you off this time.
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