donghae's dare led the two of you outside the bar, sitting at locksmith's parking area.
this the best solution you've thought of, knowing there's no way you could lie your way out this time around.
tiffany handed over two warm cups of tea along with some blankets to make sure you and donghae stay warm outside.
taeyeon, on the other hand, made sure a lone bouncer is watching you two from afar.
"i was driving around town when i saw seulgi's car trailing the same road," donghae says as he blows his tea. "i didn't put much thought into it until i saw you step out of her car and wave goodbye after." he chuckles and shakes his head.
"i couldn't think straight for minutes, you know?" he looks at you. "it's none of my business, yes. but i can't help feeling worried knowing how your family would react to this."
you take a sip of your tea, loving the warm feeling it brings down your throat. it helps to calm your mood despite the situation.
"remember that night you accused me of having a relationship with seulgi?" you ask. he hums. "we officially started dating two months after that night."
donghae's mouth opens. "oh. so, it wasn't really because of her, huh? i meant, our break-up?"
you shake your head. "but i won't deny we were getting closer after i broke up with you. things were going crazy. i was feeling down and hopeless. she's the only one who was willing to listen without forcing me to do things. that's the reason she was at the bar testing centre. it was her way of showing support, knowing i've got mixed feelings towards law."
he sips from his tea and stays silent for a moment.
"i guess that explains everything," he says quietly after a few more seconds. "that's quite a relief. at least you were not like her other girls who easily gave in to her charms."
you smile as you shake your head.
you might have told him what happened, but there's no way you're telling him everything--especially the part where you and seulgi were sleeping together exclusively even before you dated.
"i do hope she's treating you right, given how you've taken this leap to be with her," he says.
"she is. and she's trying every day," you say. "this isn't something i imagine myself getting into before. but so far, i've no regrets."
he hums. "any plans of telling your family about her?"
"none. too many complications."
"and is she okay with it?"
you hum as you take another sip from your cup. "she doesn't like forcing me into doing things for her, neither she expects me to do things right. she's just always there, waiting for me, ready to listen to my rants whenever i feel like the whole world is against me."
donghae looks down, smiling. "a complete contrast from me who always forced you to be perfect, huh?"
you let out a shy smile. "i'm sorry. i didn't mean it to sound like that."
"hey. it's okay. i understand." he waves his hand. "i get it. really. i would have felt the same if i was you."
you stare at donghae, feeling the sincerity in his every word. "don't you feel insulted knowing i am dating a woman after you?"
"well, it hurt my ego a bit. but that's how things are, i guess. no one can force someone to love or unlove anyone, right?"
"but i thought you don't agree with this kind of relationship?"
"well... i was a dickhead when i said those words before." he sighs. "there are so many things i didn't realise. things that i overlooked." he turns to the side to put his cup down. "you know, i've been doing a lot of thinking these past two weeks about my life. about you. about what happened to us."
you take a sip from your tea, looking at him over the rim of your cup.
"you remember my co-worker, leo?" he glances at you. "he... he died two weeks ago."
your hand flies to your mouth. "oh my gosh..."
"we found him hanged in one of the secluded areas in the site. we called an emergency, but it was too late."
you set your cup down and touch his knee. "i'm sorry. he was a close friend of yours, wasn't he?"
he nods. "he's been struggling with depression for years, but i never paid much attention to it. i thought it's a petty thing to waste time on--that he can quickly get over that feeling if he stops moping around and doing something to occupy his brain with other stuff.
"but i learnt the hard way that it wasn't that easy," he continues, huffing. "it was when you broke up with me i realised how good of a friend he was. he listened to me eagerly. no judgement. no blaming. he only listened. and whenever i do something stupid, he understood."
you look away as you remember how seulgi showed you the same compassion when you were at your lowest.
"it was only after he died when i understood how serious his situation was." donghae scrunches up his face. his eyes darts around, up and down. "i knew about his condition. but all i did was advise on what i think is the best solution to his probems. i thought it was enough. i thought i was right. but that's not what he needed. he didn't need someone to give him advice. what he needed is someone who will listen to him with no judgements.
"when you broke up with me, you told me how you feel like you've been imprisoned all your life," he adds. "that you've lost your sense of self along the way, trying to please your parents, the people at church, and me probably." he shrugs. "it's an unnoticeable toxic environment at the facade. but all those years, you were lonely, weren't you?"
you press your lips together as you nod, curling up to hug your knees to your chest.
donghae looks up at the dark starless sky and lets out a loud exhale.
"look. all i'm saying is, i don't blame you for falling for seulgi. she's the person i should have been for you," he says quietly after a moment. "i apologise for not being there for you, irene. i'm sorry if i ever added to the growing pressure in your life. this may seem cheesy, but i'm proud of you for taking a step to finally freeing yourself."
that made you smile. "thank you. and i'm sorry too for hurting you."
"things happen for a reason. what's important is we learned our lessons," he says. "i just hope we're still cool even after what happened to us."
"i hope so too."
donghae raises his cup in the air. "a toast to happiness and liberty?"
you smile as you shake your head.
"come on. don't be a killjoy, irene!"
you chuckle, finally giving in. you pick your cup and raises it in the air.
"to happiness and liberty."
seulgi's already sitting with the gang when you get back inside.
she stands up immediately, eyes following donghae, who is approaching her.
everyone stays silent, waiting.
donghae doesn't say anything. he stretches out his arm to seulgi.
seulgi grabs his hand and shakes it.
there are no words. the two of them are just staring at each other, a small smile on their faces.
you break out a smile when the gang clapped and cheered.
donghae pats seulgi's shoulder before picking up his coat and bag. he looks at everyone briefly and to you before he waves goodbye.
"what was that all about?" seulgi approaches you, holding you by your waist.
instead of answering, you hold your lover's hand and drags her with you towards the bar.
"unni, can we quickly use your back office?" you tell tiffany.
a sly smile forms on tiffany's lips. "oh. i didn't know you have this wild side, huh?"
"unni we're not--"
"make sure you lock the door, okay?"
"unni, it's not like that!" you are blushing now.
tiffany chuckles. "fine. fine. go ahead. and take your time as long as you want."
you pull seulgi inside, not wanting to hear more of tiffany's teasing.
when the door latches, you push seulgi up against the wall and press your lips into hers.
seulgi kisses you back, pulling you closer into her embrace. and as you kiss deepens, you can feel your bodies grinding up against each other.
seulgi eventually parts and takes a deep breath. "wow. that was hot."
"i missed you," you say.
she smiles, tucking a stray hair behind your ear. "i missed you too."
she then switches your positions, turning to pin you against the wall. she kisses you again, this time pulling your arms above your head. her lips start travelling to your ear lobe, down to your neck, and your collarbone.
it was when you let out a breathless moan when she stops.
"taeyeon will kill me if we do it here," she whispers, resting her forehead against yours.
"wasn't planning on doing that," you say, eyes close. "i just want to say how much i missed you."
"mm-mm. has this got anything to do with you talking to your ex?"
you raise an eyebrow. "ooh. don't tell me you're jealous."
"a bit. yeah. it makes my blood boil thinking that dude was able to touch your anywhere he wanted before."
"oh. and you said 'a bit', huh?"
"i thought kang seulgi doesn't get jealous." you smile teasingly, cupping her face when she looks away.
"i am a mere mortal with emotions, irene. you have no idea how i loathed the sight of you with him."
you caress her cheek. "i'm sorry. but i'm happy to hear that."
"whatever." seulgi playfully rolls her eyes. "can we go home now while i can still control myself, or do you want me to..." her hand gently feels you down your back and side.
"do i want you to?" you whisper against her lips.
seulgi pulls your leg around her and caresses your thigh.
you are about to kiss her, but there is a knock on the door. then taeyeon's voice follows.
"kang seulgi, if you're trying anything funny with my cousin in there, i'll make sure to kill you after!"