027

DERANGER
when you agreed to date seulgi, you already know you're bound to meet her mum sooner or later. it's something you look forward to, getting introduced as seulgi's girlfriend and (hopefully) getting liked by her mum. you yearn for that experience, knowing it's something you can't give to seulgi given your family's background and beliefs.
 
you are pretty confident you'll be able to impress the woman with your appearance, personality, and career achievement: earning a master's degree, teaching full-time in a university, and finishing law school. you think that's enough to enthral her to believe that her daughter made the right choice of dating you despite the age difference.
 
you have already planned how it'll happen. you'll ask seulgi to invite her mum for dinner, and you'll cook that pasta recipe seulgi loves so much. then, you'll get introduced, get to know each other, and the night would end well for all of you.
 
it seems well planned, and you're sure you'll get a high approval rating.
 
however, that's not the case tonight.
 
because instead of meeting seulgi's mum over a planned dinner where you're prepared to get all dolled up for, you are in this embarrassing state:
 
a messy hair.
 
a pair of swollen lips.
 
a shirt with mismatched buttons as a result of wearing anything you pick from the floor in a hurry.
 
and a damn blue vulva.
 
seriously. what could be worse?
 
---
 
"sorry for coming here unannounced," seulgi's mum says as she puts down the homemade dish they brought over. "i was having fun in the kitchen and was experimenting with some recipes when i suddenly had an idea of bringing you food here. i called joy and told her to go straight here after her group study. we tried calling you, but you weren't answering."
 
"you can come here anytime, mum." seulgi waves a hand. "i left my phone here when irene and i went out for a moment."
 
"i see. joy said you were eating when she arrived."
 
"oh. i was definitely eating." seulgi chuckles and coughs when you elbow her rib. "i meant, i was munching a snack on the way back here and saw joy by the door when we arrived."
 
"cool. would you like me to heat this for you?"
 
"sure, mum. join us too, please." seulgi stands up. "i'll go down quickly to buy some disposables and soda."
 
you grab seulgi's arm when she turns away, telepathically asking her not to leave you there alone.
 
she leans down to plant a kiss on the top of your head, making you blush as her mum and sister are just there, watching.
 
"i'll be quick. i promise."
 
---
 
"the first time i saw you, i already knew seulgi unni's serious about you." joy drops into one of the chairs to look at you. "she's never brought any fling here before, let alone buy them their tablewares." she eyes the spoon and fork you're setting.
 
you shyly smile at joy, not knowing else what to say.
 
"if i may ask," seulgi's mum says, taking the pan from the microwave oven and bringing it over to the table, "where did you two meet?"
 
you lightly scratch the side of your neck. "well, we met at the university."
 
"oh. are you two classmates?"
 
you press your lips together to prevent yourself from grinning. joy, on the other hand, is already laughing.
 
"mum, she's seulgi's professor!"
 
the older woman looks at you, eyes wide. "oh, you are?" you nod shyly. "oh. i thought--" she blinks. "wait. are you that professor she's been crushing on?"
 
"m-me?" you point at yourself.
 
"she used to tell her dad about this professor that she liked." seulgi's mum removes the mitt from her hand and looks at you. "is that you?"
 
"i... i'm not sure," you say, feeling somewhat jealous of this information, thinking it might be another person. "seulgi hasn't told me anything about that. but she took me to meet her dad in the memorial chapel."
 
"oh my god! she did?" joy stands to her feet and opens her arms wide. "if that's the case, then i welcome you to the family, unni."
 
you are suddenly pulled into a hug, not sure what for. you look at seulgi's mum's over joy's shoulder, trying to read her expressions.
 
there's split-second happiness that is immediately replaced with worry. what lingers lastly is a small earnest smile you are sure meant something.
 
the door opens. seulgi steps in with bags in hands.
 
"joy! you're suffocating my girlfriend!"
 
---
 
it was only during dinner when you had the chance to take a good look at seulgi's mum.
 
you still think your lover takes after her dad, but you can't deny the maternal resemblance, especially when they smile.
 
it was a relatively peaceful and fun dinner. it pleases you to see this seulgi's side, being a daughter and a sister. the more you get exposed to her other sides, the more you feel you are falling deeper.
 
you don't feel anything negative towards her mum. but her quick acceptance of your relationship, and the lack of comment thereof, makes you anxious.
 
you always notice how the woman looks at seulgi like she hasn't seen her daughter for years. you wonder what's on her mind.
 
the dinner eventually ends. joy and seulgi's mum hugs you both before leaving.
 
---
 
"so, what does your mum think of me?" you ask when seulgi slips under the sheets next to you. you remember seeing them talk privately on the balcony while you were cleaning up after dinner.
 
seulgi pulls you to her embrace and kisses your head. "mm. she likes you very much. she even wonders how did i convince you to date me."
 
"you're lying..." you pout even she can't see you.
 
"huh? why would i lie about that?" she pulls away to look at you. "my mum thinks you're out of my league. she said i should step up my game and take care of you well so you won't go around looking for someone else to replace me with."
 
you smile. "she did say that?"
 
"uh-uh."
 
"she shouldn't think that high of me tho." you lean back into seulgi's embrace, your face pressed against her neck. "i was starting to get worried about it. it seems too easy for her to accept everything without any questions. i feel like it's unreal."
 
"why would she question us then? i'm the one sleeping with you, not her."
 
"yah!" you hit her side.
 
"i'm serious!" she chuckles. "mum's not good with words. but she's very understanding when it comes to matters like this. she and dad stayed as good friends even after the divorce."
 
"that's nice." you smile a little. "sometimes i feel like you're luckier with your family. despite your parents divorcing, they are both open to what you are and what you want."
 
"if you'll look at that aspect alone and compare it to your situation, you could probably say that." seulgi shrugs. "but i've had my struggles too with my parents divorcing. it was hard for me to accept before that's mom is a wife to another man who isn't my dad."
 
"i guess you're right." you kiss seulgi's neck, hoping to erase that pain she experienced from when she's a kid. "there's really no such thing as perfect life for everyone. we all have our struggles, one way or another."
 
"i think it all boils down to us not accepting that life is indeed suffering," seulgi says, shifting to lie on her back and look up at the ceiling. "all our lives, we try our best to avoid it, mindlessly pursuing what makes us happy. but then, by the end of the day, it's part of life, you know? suffering is what makes life meaningful. happiness is meaningless without suffering."
 
you turn to look at seulgi, brows knitted. "you're in that philosopher state again. do you know that?"
 
seulgi chuckles. "maybe i should study philosophy and teach at the university instead. what do you think?"
 
"speaking of that." you shift to your side and prop your head on your hand. "your mum mentioned a professor you were crushing on before."
 
seulgi looks at you, blinking. "she did?"
 
"yeah. she even said you told your dad about this professor."
 
"ooh daaang!" seulgi frowns. "you're not supposed to know that!"
 
"what? who's that professor then? huh? huh?" you start pinching her sides.
 
"ow! ow! stop!" she grips your arms and shifts to straddle you, pinning your hands above your head. "it's you!"
 
"me?"
 
"yeah. who else?"
 
you blink. "well... i just..."
 
"i was a freshman when i first saw you. i don't know what you did but you got me right then and there. i'm gone," seulgi says in a sigh. "when i saw you in one of my senior-year classes, i was so glad i treated wendy and the whole gang to lunch."
 
you chuckle. now you know why that chaeyeon friend of seulgi seems jealous of you.
 
"but i thought it would end just there, considering i dropped out of your subjects after what happened to my dad," seulgi adds, tracing her finger over your nose and lips. "lucky for me, i picked the class you'll be assigned to the following sem. and i knew the fate is on my side when i saw you at lockmiths' opening."
 
"is that why you're acting all cocky around me?" you ask. "i thought you only wanted to get me to bed."
 
seulgi grimaces, looking guilty. "well, i wanted that at first because i thought you would never take someone like me seriously. it didn't occur to me we could become friends. i start liking you more. i found myself appreciating not only your achievements in life but also your shortcomings. and the less you seem perfect to me, the more i get drawn to you."
 
your eyebrows fly up. "why tho? shouldn't you be turned off instead?"
 
"i don't know. but to me, that proves how much i love you because i'm willing to accept you wholly, not despite your imperfections, but along with it."
 
"oh." a smile breaks free from your face. "so, you love me, huh?"
 
"yes, ma'am. i do love you."
 
you lift your head to kiss her once. "say that again?"
 
she kisses you in return. "i love you." another kiss. "i love you." one last kiss that lingers a little longer. "i love you."
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