029

DERANGER
you are standing at the curb, your hands in your coat pockets, smiling to yourself as you silently observe your lover who's sitting by the stairs at the entrance of your apartment building.
 
she's head down, busy on her phone, completely unaware of your presence on the other side of the road.
 
you stay there for a few more minutes, enjoying observing her oblivious state. and as wonderful feelings ade through your chest, you realise how much you are utterly and helplessly in love with her.
 
how can you be so lucky to find such a person in this lifetime, someone whom you love and loves you back as much in return?
 
you don't regret every second you spend with her, don't feel guilty doing anything with her despite the moral values you were taught.
 
it just feels right when you two are together.
 
if loving seulgi is such an immoral thing, then why did the forces above permit you to feel something like that?
 
why did nature allow not only you but other people to fall for the same gender?
 
a vapour comes out of your mouth when you exhale, realising you're overthinking. look at what listening to seulgi talk all about philosophy has done to you.
 
chuckling, you make your way to seulgi. you stop right in front of her, making her look up.
 
"hey." you smile.
 
she blinks. "you're here."
 
"i am here," your voice trembles a bit as you shiver. "why are you waiting here outside? it's so cold."
 
she stands up and pockets her phone. "i want to make sure you're not coming home with a family member." she takes off her orange scarf and puts it around your neck. "it would shock them if they see me inside your flat."
 
you let her finish keeping you warm first before you link your arm with hers as you two make your way inside the building. "i would tell you if someone's coming with me. i'd rather you stay inside than freeze out here."
 
"it's fine. i wasn't waiting that long, anyway." seulgi sniffs a bit. "so... how was the dinner?"
 
you reach the lift area and presses a button at the floor panel. "just fine. same same."
 
"anything unfortunate?"
 
"just dad still pushing me to retake the bar." the lift dings and opens. you and seulgi enter. "i told him i don't see myself in that profession, that i'm happy with my cooking adventure. mum also called me out on doing business with taeyeon unni. i told her there's nothing wrong with helping them. besides, i'm getting paid for it, right?"
 
"mm-mm." seulgi leans back against the metal wall, hands in her coat pockets.
 
you touch her arm. "are you cold?"
 
she shakes her head.
 
you notice how she's got the same vibe today like when she was avoiding you. "something wrong?"
 
"nothing. i was thinking earlier while waiting for you."
 
"thinking about?"
 
"just... stuff."
 
the lift dings again and opens up to your floor. seulgi lets you step out first before she follows.
 
"what stuff then?" you ask as you make your way to your door.
 
seulgi shrugs and stays silent until you reach your front door. she enters the code, and the door unlocks with a beep. you step in first to switch the lights on.
 
but you don't like the feeling you're getting from her silence. so, you turn to her as soon as she closes the door.
 
"seulgi, what's wrong?"
 
she only stares at you, and you can see the worried look in her eyes.
 
"i won't force you to tell me if you're not ready to spill it yet," you say, cupping her cheeks. "but at least assure me if you're alright or if we are alright? i'm getting anxious seeing you like this."
 
seulgi's body finally relaxes. "i'm sorry. we're... we're fine. i didn't mean to make you feel like that. i was worried about something earlier."
 
"what about?"
 
"about you going to your parents..." she avoids your eyes. "the last time you had dinner with them, you asked me to stop seeing you the next day. i just... i guess i got scared..." she exhales.
 
a smirk slips across your lips.
 
awe.
 
how could you not melt seeing seulgi in this state?
 
knowing that you two are finally behind closed doors, you relay to her how there's nothing to be worried about by kissing her eagerly. so eager that you're tiptoeing to angle your head better.
 
you are glad she responds. but you can still feel her worry through the gentleness of her kisses. you pull back.
 
"there's nothing to worry about, okay?" you tell her. "seulgi, look at me. i would never ask you again to stop seeing me. if there's one thing i might ask, it's for you to take me far, far away from this place where we could live together without anyone knowing us."
 
she looks at you with puppy eyes. "like runaway? together?"
 
"yeah. something like that."
 
she takes a moment to respond, "where do you want to go then?"
 
"anywhere. as long as i'm with you."
 
"i would love that..." she nods hesitantly, thinking. "but... but can you wait at least til i graduate and get my bachelor's degree? it'll just be a few weeks from now."
 
all the tension vanishes when your laughter fills the room.
 
"what's wrong with that? it's just more practical to run away once i have a degree, right?" she asks, and you hum. "i'm only making sure i won't burden you. at least i could get a decent job."
 
"i know. i know. you're just so cute!" you kiss her again. "i'm so in love with you!" another kiss.
 
she's smiling now when you pull back.
 
"feeling better?" you fix her bangs.
 
she wraps her arms around your waist and pulls you to her. "i'm so lucky bae irene is in love with me."
 
"yes. i am in so deep into you." you held her chin and wiggle her face. "now, have you had dinner yet?"
 
she gives you that cute kid-like smile that you rarely see. then she shakes her head.
 
"okay." you pull and lead her further into your room. "now go wash and get changed. i'll cook something."
 
"should i still wear something if..." she points a finger between the two of you.
 
"it's cold, seulgi. put something on, please. i don't want you getting cold for staying for too long."
 
"okay!" she salutes and heads towards your bathroom the next second, jumping like a kid who got her favourite birthday present.
 
you ask yourself if there's any way she can be cuter.
 
---
 
it was another friday night, and you're back at the locksmith bar.
 
seulgi is spending some time with a classmate that night to finish up a group project.
 
not wanting to get bored alone in your apartment, she drove you to locksmith as she needs to be out for a few hours.
 
you wave at seulgi goodbye before you enter the bar. you're glad to see the friday gang complete. yuri brought along a pretty co-worker (yeri whispers to you it's a supervisor of hers). they introduce her to you as yejin.
 
the entire gang seems to notice your striking resemblance with yuri's date. they keep joking about how yuri and seulgi seem to love dating sisters.
 
the laughter dies down when donghae shows up a few minutes later, asking if he can join.
 
there is a moment of awkward silence at first. but being decent people that all are, he's offered a seat. yeri and yuri sandwiched you in between them to make sure you are guarded.
 
donghae asked for some drinks and ordered food for everyone too. he tells the gang he's in town tonight and is driving around when he had the urge to go to a bar for some fun.
 
you are sceptic at first but felt at ease when he starts playing along with the jokes.
 
his one bottle of beer turns into two, three, and five.
 
knowing he's still driving home, you remind him of his alcohol intake.
 
he waves his hand and says he's fine. the one he's holding will be his last bottle for the night.
 
yeri changes the topic by suggesting a spin the bottle game: truth or dare. it helped to cheer up the mood as the gang went crazy with the dares and the questions.
 
when the tip of the bottle points at you, and it's donghae's turn to ask, you feel nervous.
 
you went for the dare, thinking that choosing the truth may prompt him to ask seulgi-related questions.
 
since you know he won't ask you to do anything disrespectful, you know choosing dare is safer.
 
"alright. dare!" donghae raises a finger, his voice slurry. "now, can you explain to me how and why in the world you were riding seulgi's car when you arrived at the entrance?"
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