021

DERANGER
you end up going back to your apartment that night.
 
you couldn't stay over, despite your family's insistence, as seeing them only makes you feel guiltier than you already are.
 
you couldn't reach out to seulgi either, feeling you're only making the situation worse if you try to.
 
it was all confusing and worrying at the same time. you don't know what to do anymore.
 
what's clear to you is, this time around, it's not only yourself you need to protect from your family, but seulgi as well.
 
---
 
"seulgi, let's stop this."
 
her expression doesn't change, but you see her swallowing a lump in .
 
it was the following day. you finally get to see her again after a week. like the usual, she sneaked into your office after your class.
 
you are excited to be reunited and get close to her again. but after what happened last night with donghae, you think it's about time you put an end to this.
 
over three months of exclusive hook-up. you think it's not bad. at least you've tried it. you're sure she had a good time as much as you did.
 
but why do you feel like breaking and crying as you try to end this today?
 
and what about her? how will she take it?
 
"i understand," she says.
 
her answer is so short you wish you could at least see more emotions from her.
 
"seulgi, what we had, it was fun. but--"
 
"you don't need to explain anything," she says, and the calmness in her tone is like a knife to your chest. "that's just how things are."
 
somehow it hurts you how she's taking everything lightly like it's something she's used to doing.
 
but what bothers you is how tight both her fists are clenched.
 
"i just..." you rub a hand on your nape. "i just think you deserve an explanation."
 
"all things that start must come to an end. that's how life is. at least you're decent enough to let me know you've changed plans."
 
"seulgi, if you're thinking--"
 
"i'll be taking my leave now, professor." she bows and leaves your office the next second.
 
---
 
the next few days pass in a blur. it was dull and lifeless to you.
 
you find yourself crying at times for unknown reasons.
 
but you know it's got something to do with seulgi.
 
you're sure it's about her.
 
when you stay in your apartment alone and watch netflix, you remember how her hug feels whenever you cuddle there.
 
you see her image standing in the kitchen, washing dishes and smiling at you.
 
you can hear her voice, how she loves teasing you. how she calls you love and makes it sound like she means it.
 
you wonder if she's feeling or thinking in the same way. she never reached out after that talk. she doesn't look at you anymore when you're in class.
 
it's like nothing happened between the two of you.
 
it's like she never cared for you.
 
that idea is suffocating.
 
---
 
weeks later, there's a university event taking place.
 
as much as you want to stay home and succumb to loneliness, you are compelled to attend this one as your advisory class is the event's main organiser.
 
it's a two-hour programme showcasing talents from students in the commerce department.
 
to your surprise, seulgi actively performed with several groups; the pop band where she sang and played the guitar while wendy handles the keyboard, the dance club where she's with chaeyeon, and the acting club.
 
it's only that night when you realise how popular seulgi is. whenever she appears on stage, delivers her line, or sings, people--particularly women--are going crazy.
 
makes you wonder how many of these girls she'd slept with before.
 
you are somewhat jealous as you watch her perform, seeing how she flirts with the audience.
 
then it dawns on you how far your gap is, how different your worlds are. and how there's no room for a real relationship between you and her.
 
now you are curious as to how she's able to keep up with you or how you were able to level with her.
 
did she enjoy your company at all? or was she only interested in getting you to bed?
 
watching her tonight makes you think you made the right decision of ending things with her.
 
yes, she's able to bring you high up in the clouds. but you know that's not for the long-term.
 
you and her are impossible.
 
---
 
the programme is close to ending when you feel the need to go to the loo.
 
you walk inside the building, but the first floor's restroom is occupied by the students who attended the same programme.
 
climb the stairs to the second floor. still full with students.
 
you didn't bother to check the one on the third floor and climb straight to the fourth floor.
 
you are busy catching your breath on the staircase when a lone student hurriedly runs past you without even noticing your presence. you follow her with your eyes and notice it's chaeyeon.
 
is she crying?
 
you find the source in the restroom in the form of seulgi exchanging kisses with one student, the one she's flirting with from the audience earlier. she's still in that red flannel from her last performance.
 
the said girl is lifted on the counter. seulgi is standing in between her spread legs, her neck.
 
you feel like exploding that very second. that is one of your favourite positions with her.
 
is this how cheap seulgi is? why in a university restroom?
 
is this how low you've stooped down when you slept with her?
 
the girl clutches seulgi's hair, only to shriek in shock after seeing you.
 
"professor!" the girl pushes seulgi away, immediately jumping off the counter to bow at you. "i'm sorry! i'm sorry! please don't report us!"
 
seulgi's just standing, unsteady, mouth red and swollen, eyes on the floor.
 
"i beg you, professor!" the girl cries. "i can't get kicked out of this university. my parents will kill me!"
 
you fold your arms across your chest, amazed at how unfazed seulgi is.
 
"it seems you're drunk. you both know any liquor is prohibited inside the university."
 
"professor! please! i promise we won't do it again!" the girl cries harder. you feel a sense of victory.
 
"any words, miss kang?" you look at her.
 
she shakes her head as she tries to balance herself.
 
"look at me when i'm talking to you, miss kang."
 
her eyes lift to you. your heart ceases beating for a moment when your eyes meet. this is the first time she looked at you again after so many weeks.
 
but unlike how you remember them, her eyes are dead and tired and empty right now.
 
"you can put all the blame on me, professor." she hicks, pulling her shirt to wipe . "she didn't drink anything. i tricked her into going here and making out."
 
you grit your teeth. "do you know that these violations could mean expulsion from this university?"
 
"i am fully aware of that." seulgi bows. she tries to maintain her balance by leaning against the wall. "i take full responsibili--"
 
the next thing is she's covering and turning away to barf in the sink.
 
on impulse, you take a step to check on her, but her lady friend is already on her side.
 
"hey. are you alright?" the girl pats seulgi's back.
 
you hear seulgi's short hum amidst the sound of the running water and continuous coughs.
 
you sigh. what is happening to her?
 
"okay. i will let you two off the hook this time," you say. "i won't report anything. this never happened. but please make sure you get miss kang home safely."
 
"i will, professor. thank you." the woman bows again.
 
you leave the restroom at once, forgetting about the need to pee.
 
because the next words you hear seulgi utters just ruined the rest of your night.
 
"no... not in my place. let's... let's go to yours."
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