035

DERANGER
never in your life you saw your dad snap like how he did tonight.
 
sure he had those times when he yells and shouts at eunwoo whenever the latter's being bratty. but he never lifted a hand to anyone of you.
 
you think you should be proud because you finally gave him a reason to.
 
when those words leave your mouth, your mum falls to the floor crying. your dad, however, turns red. he grits his teeth and lunges at you, hand already in the air.
 
you close your eyes and clench your cheek in anticipation. but instead of a palm hitting your face, a body covers you and holds you protectively.
 
by the scent of it, you can tell it's your brother.
 
then your sister's cry follows. you see her pulling your dad, asking him to stop, to get a hold of himself.
 
she then tells eunwoo to take you out of there.
 
in seconds, you are getting pulled out of the house. your vision is blurry with tears. but you still glimpsed your mum, dad, and sister before the door closed.
 
now you're sure you're dad's right. you are a disappointment in the family.
 
---
 
"noona, where does she live?" eunwoo asks you again as he drives down the highway.
 
you are sitting on the driver's seat, face buried in your knees. you have been crying non-stop since you left the house.
 
you wonder what will happen next--if you can still go back.
 
will that be the last image of your family you'd see?
 
"noona..."
 
hearing the helplessness in eunwoo's tone, you finally find the urge to move. you reach for your phone and quick dial #1. you hand your phone to your brother and bury your face back into your knees.
 
your brother sighs as he puts the phone to his ear.
 
"seulgi. it's me. please tell me your address. i'm taking noona there."
 
---
 
you are on seulgi's familiar floor bed when you wake up. the memory of your lover opening the door and you breaking down at her flashes on your mind.
 
your ears perk at the sound of seulgi and eunwoo's voices by the kitchen.
 
you couldn't make much out of it as they are mostly whispering. but you can tell by their tone and body language that they are talking calmly.
 
and you didn't miss the pile of kitkat chunky on the dining table.
 
relieved, you close your eyes again.
 
---
 
it was dark outside when you wake up.
 
you push yourself up, wondering what time it is. the headache is gone, but your growling stomach is your next problem.
 
"i can tell someone's hungry..."
 
you look over your shoulder and see seulgi lying down next to you, head propped against her hand.
 
"i..." you bring your hands to your tummy. "i don't think i've had lunch."
 
"you were too busy crying and wailing earlier when your brother brought you here."
 
you pout as your shoulders fall. "so, that wasn't a dream, huh..."
 
"were you hoping it was?"
 
you shrug. "somehow. yeah. i still couldn't believe i've done that--coming out to my parents and telling them about you."
 
seulgi observes you for a moment. "regretting it now?"
 
you shake your head. "it's just sad that i can't have both. how i wish i can choose one side and not lose the other."
 
she nods, letting out a sigh through her nose.
 
"well, you could take your time with that," she says, shifting to sit on the bed. "it's never too late. i'm sure they would forgive you if you want to fix everything with them."
 
"what do you mean?"
 
"you could still go back there tonight if you want to make it up with your parents. i could drive you myself."
 
you raise an eyebrow. "but making up with them would mean me leaving you. they would never accept this."
 
"i know. but they are your family. they are a huge part of you. you can't just leave them like that."
 
you've got a bad feeling about this. "seulgi, what are you saying?"
 
"i just..." she exhales, eyes roaming around. "i..."
 
you reach out for her hand. "i want to be here, with you."
 
she looks down as you squeeze her hand. "you sure?"
 
you nod, a small smile forming on your lips.
 
"i'm free now, seulgi, after so many years. i was finally able to tell them how i feel. i can be with you now for real. no pretending. no hiding."
 
"but are you sure you want to do this with me?" she brings your hand to her cheek. "you would be hated by your family if you keep up with this."
 
"i know. and i'm not saying it's okay." you gently pull your hand away, bringing it to your nape. "but nothing would change if i won't stand up for myself. i'm a big disappointment to them, anyway. might as well live with it."
 
"but you do understand that somewhere down the road, i might do something to disappoint you too, right?" she asks. "it may not be as big as your thing with your parents, but i want you to think this over because this may not be the life you want for yourself."
 
you lean back, brows furrowed. "what are you saying? and why would you disappoint me? are you going to cheat on me or break up with me?"
 
seulgi shakes her head. "no. no. it's not that." she cups your shoulders in her palms. "listen to me. this, us, is not going to be like this forever. it's not going to be always fun, y, and exciting. there will be days when we're all high up in cloud nine, ing and loving each other. but there will surely be days we'd shout at each other and would want to cut each other's throat."
 
you're trying your best to understand what she's trying to point out. you're getting nervous because seulgi getting cold feet on you is the last thing you expect.
 
she can't do that. not now when she's all you've got left.
 
"aren't relationships supposed to be like that?" you tell her.
 
"yes. but all i'm saying is..." she looks down and takes in a deep breath. "i won't promise you a blissful life with me, irene. and i want you to think this over, make sure if this is what you want--that it's me that you want and not the idea of being together with a fairytale ending."
 
"i am not expecting us to live happily ever after," you say quickly. "i know, and i don't care even if being with you means dealing with a never-ending process of loving and hating, fighting and making up. i'd want to do all of those with you and no one else."
 
seulgi pulls away to sit back down, releasing a relieved sigh.
 
"are you not sure of me yet?" you ask, trying to hide the crack in your voice.
 
", irene." she scoffs. "i'd marry you right here and now if i can."
 
you swoon inside. all worries from earlier now erased.
 
"well, then, do you have rings with you?" you ask.
 
she chuckles and shakes her head.
 
"see? you're the one who's not ready."
 
"i am only making sure you're not gonna go cold feet on me once things get rough," she says. "if you're gonna break my heart someday and leave me, better do it now while i still haven't bought that ring yet."
 
you laugh. "you're such a..." you reach out to pull her and kiss her. "are you sure you want to marry me?"
 
"yes, ma'am. never been so sure of anything in my life."
 
"but where would we get married?" you hug her by her waist, leaning your head against her shoulder. "taeyeon and tiffany unni went to the states for that."
 
"we could go there too. but we'd have to save up first. and speaking of that..."
 
you listen as seulgi sites her ideas of a better setup for you two. she thinks one of you should give up their apartment so you could live together and save up.
 
she also mentions her dilemma about working for schindlee's cafe officially, alongside her dad's business partner, or if she should apply to an office setting first, taking care of the business on the side.
 
"what do you think?" she asks.
 
"i think..." you playfully tap her tummy. "i think we should elope."
 
she chuckles. "seriously? out of all the options i stated, that's your decision?"
 
"yeah." you nod. "let's give up both our apartments and transfer to a new city where no one knows us. somewhere we can start anew."
 
"i like that. but what about your job?"
 
"i'll look for another one there. i still have incomes coming from locksmith and schindlee's cafe to provide for us while i still look for another full-time position."
 
"i won't let you handle all the expenses alone. you know i've got savings from my dad."
 
"let's not touch that yet unless it's necessary." you turn your face aside and kiss her neck. "don't you think it's exciting to start from scratch on our own?"
 
she hums. "it sounds fun and tiring."
 
"i don't care. as long as i'm with you."
 
"right." she looks down at you and kisses your forehead. "thank you."
 
"for?"
 
"thank you for choosing me. i've been used to being the second choice or the fallback since i was a kid. if there are better options, people leave me. dad, mum, krystal. not that i hate them. but it still makes me sad, you know? so, thank you."
 
you give her a small smile, feeling sad at what she's gone through. she is indeed as broken as you are--maybe even more. yet, this broken person completes your life in so many ways.
 
seulgi pulls you closer to kiss your forehead again. this time, it lingers. the gesture tells you all the things she couldn't put into words.
 
that she loves you. that she'll always be there for you. and all other beautiful yet indescribable things that weaken your knees and make your heart flutter.
 
you had to close your eyes to savour it.
 
you swear to yourself you'd do anything to make her happy always.
 
she pulls away to look you in your eyes. "let's runaway?"
 
you smile. "together."
 
she smiles back. "yes. together."
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