A/N: Part II//??
Sorry it took so long, hun.
I hope you like it.
Lee Aerin stood in front of her mirror and scrutinized herself. She brushed her hair so that not one strand flew away from the dark brown mane. She applied her make-up so that she couldn’t see the puffiness of her eyes due to all of the crying she did over her predicament with Donghae. Now she stood in front of her full body mirror with her head cocked to the left. She didn’t look like herself even with her headband meticulously pinning her bangs away from her face. She left her uniform shirt open as she stared at her apathetic reflection. She tentatively lifted her hand and ran it down the valley in between her s, dragging her palm down until it reached the waistband of her skirt. She slid her index finger underneath her waistband and snapped it against her skin. Did Donghae not enjoy her body? Maybe she was too skinny. No; she and Jessica wore the same size. When the two would meet after school and shop together, they always looked in the same section. Maybe she was too plain. No; she didn’t earn an alternative name for nothing. Even though “The Silent Icicle” didn’t exactly have a positive background, she still had it. What did she do wrong?
“As tantalizing as this is to watch,” Sunggyu drawled from his place on Aerin’s bed, “Don’t you have school to attend?”
“Mind your own business,” Aerin retorted with a scowl. Even though her Cupid was supposed to help her, she got nothing but a headache from having him around. “And quiet down, idiot.”
You don’t seem to be yourself, the Cupid said with a touch of sympathy in his voice. Aerin furrowed her brows at the mental intrusion; she could clearly hear Sunggyu’s voice, but the sound didn’t exactly register in her ears. It went straight into her head and lingered there for a few moments before tapering off. The sensation made her skin crawl. Just think about what you want to say; I’ll get it.
Aerin scoffed, but doing as Sunggyu asked, thought, you’ve only known me for a month. How do you know what I’m like?
Sunggyu laughed and responded, why do humans like to put mythical creatures under their terms? You don’t think I’ve been observing your behaviors for this past month? Your interactions with people, the way you write, eat, and sleep; I’ve seen everything I need to in the first week of meeting you.
I extrapolate the rest, I admit. But I know you better than you know yourself, and I know that ever since Donghae announced his relationship publically, you want to make a victim out of the girl.
Aerin glanced down at the messenger bag at the side of her mirror and pictured the Cupid’s Log inside nestled in between two spiral notebooks. Two weeks after the initial break-up, Lee Donghae publically announced his relationship with Jessica Jung. It was a trying time for Aerin, having to see the two walking through the halls side by side. Jessica still received a good deal of scorn from the student body even when it had dissipated in Donghae’s case. The latter result was to be expected, though—Donghae was the captain of the soccer team with an impeccable winning streak. Jessica, though, wasn’t lucky enough to have an important position in Seoul National Heart; she worked as a reporter for the school’s newspaper but did nothing else. The scandal had earned Aerin a Cupid but she still scowled whenever Jessica walked beside Donghae with her head held high, her pointed nose angled just a bit higher and her jaw set just a bit more firmly. Aerin really despised that. Even with people whispering behind her back, the beautiful brunette managed to remain confident and steadfast besides her ill-gotten beau. Aerin really, really despised that.
She set her jaw and turned to regard a smirking Sunggyu with a smoldering glare, stating, you don’t know me, Cupid. Human beings aren’t variables that you can predict.
“,” Aerin murmured as she buttoned her shirt. She glanced at her cell phone on her night stand and turned away from it just as quickly. Sunggyu picked the device up and placed it to his ear experimentally.
“Do you have any friends, Aerin?”
“No,” she answered quickly. She stopped buttoning her shirt, gnawed at her lower lip, and nodded, “No, I don’t. Not anymore.”
“What happened to them?”
“What happened to them?” Aerin scoffed and hissed, “The girl stole my best friend and the love of my life.” Aerin snatched her blazer off of the closet door and slid it on slowly so that she didn’t create wrinkles or unsightly creases in the sleeves of her shirt. She turned to Sunggyu and smirked, stating, “You know you’re holding that phone upside-down, right?”
“How can you tell when nobody calls you?”
Aerin glanced over her shoulder at the Cupid who scrutinized her with the right corner of his pink lips turned up slightly. He was an angel of love and matters of the heart; it makes sense that he attuned to her loneliness. Without Donghae and Jessica, she had nothing. Donghae’s clique was well-known around the school, but Aerin never made a motion to make friends with all fifteen of them. Back then, she could only see Donghae. Jessica also had her circle of well-known friends. Aerin didn’t try to become friendly with them, either. Jessica had been her best friend; they shopped, cooked, and adored Donghae together. Aerin should have seen her betrayal coming. her for being a fool and not expecting Jessica’s feelings to blossom into something more. I’m an idiot, Aerin dejectedly thought with teary eyes. She turned to retrieve her shoulder bag from her nightstand but collided with a broad chest in return. Sunggyu took her right hand in his left hand and placed her cell phone in her palm. He held Aerin’s hand tightly, pressing his forehead against hers.
You’re no idiot. You’re just in love.
• • • • •
Aerin’s bad mood from that morning carried on into her tutoring session. Seoul National Heart’s study was on the fifth floor of the main academic building. The hard oak floor paneling, the large windows overlooking the art building and street, and the intricately carved copper columns on each opposite wall of the room gave the study a lofty yet academic feeling. Portraits of notable people and founders were tacked up in between the columns. Most of the portraits were painted on fabric; Aerin forgot the name of the method but she loved it. Two rows of desks were on either side of the room. Each desk had a computer and a row of tables were behind the service desk. Aerin presented her ID card to the desk assistant and moved to the right side of the room reserved for tutors. Aerin gave herself a pat on the back for arriving a bit late; it had given her a chance to communicate with Sunggyu and sort out her thoughts. The Cupid sat on the top of the desk opposite of hers and gazed at his dejected charge. He seemed to be reading from a small white handbook that he produced from his pocket. Aerin gazed at Sunggyu and noticed that his facial expressions underwent slight yet perceptible chances. She liked it when a small smile graced Sunggyu’s pink lips. It made him look slightly more bearable.
Aerin made a motion to pluck the tiny book from Sunggyu’s hands but pouted as the male leaned back and laughed his characteristic wind chime laugh. He pocketed the book, effectively keeping it out of Aerin’s sight and reach. The female was so absorbed in Sunggyu’s antics that she didn’t notice the male awkwardly standing off to the right behind her. When the male cleared his throat, Aerin jumped and turned to face him with narrowed eyes. The lanky brunette adjusted his tie under Aerin’s cold scrutiny, but he didn’t turn away from her icy glare. The young man was named Kim Kibum, her calculus II and advanced Mandarin tutor and one of the smartest second years that Aerin knew personally. He always offered to help her with her calculus and Mandarin homework since they had the same classes at the same time. He was also a quasi-famous author, writing underground fictional tales that seemed eerily reminiscent of the Corpse Party video game series. Overall, Kim Kibum was someone to know and Aerin counted her blessings for having him at her disposal. The brunette took a seat at the desk next to Aerin’s and used his legs to propel the plush rolling chair backwards.
“Good morning, Aerin.” A soft smile lit up Kibum’s face as he greeted the passive brunette. His smile faltered when he received a textbook and pages of incomplete Mandarin phrases as a response.
“Just do my homework,” Aerin said with a scowl. Sunggyu raised his eyebrows and let out a low whistle. That was harsh, Aerin, he chided.
To Aerin’s surprise, Kibum placed her textbook back in front of her with more force than intended. He pulled his chair so that he sat directly at Aerin’s left. “Open your textbook. I’m your tutor, not a computer that you can just put phrases into and then I translate them! Is that what you think of me? Huh?!” Aerin rolled her eyes and opened her textbook to the assigned pages. Kibum sat down in his chair, muttering, “I’ll help you. Let me.”
Aerin felt her cheeks grow warm. When she and Donghae were in middle school, he said those exact same words to her when she stubbornly gave up trying to join the soccer team. With his hand at her back, Donghae took her back out to the soccer field and kicked a ball around with her until her confidence returned. She never made the team, but Donghae kept on practicing with her. He always said he would help her. Aerin let him; she let him help her until he severed his bond with her a month ago. Aerin didn’t notice she had started crying until she looked down at the smeared ink on her Mandarin assignment. Kibum seemed stunned; for a moment he didn’t make a move to assist her at all. Then he withdrew a handkerchief from his pocket and began to dab at her moist, tear-streaked cheeks. Aerin’s posture stiffened but she didn’t draw away from her tutor. Kibum pulled the distraught female into a hug after cleaning the tears from her face.
“Are you alright, Aerin?” The change in Kibum’s tone of voice touched on one of Aerin’s many raw nerves. The thing she hated most about her predicament was that everybody knew about it. Everyone only wanted to be her friend (read: they pitied her) because of her being publically dumped by the star soccer player, Lee Donghae. It makes me sick.
“Don’t ask as if you really care about me, Kim Kibum!” Aerin stood up abruptly, sending her chair crashing to the floor. The service desk attendant turned to shush her, but Aerin’s steely glare made the female fall silent. “How dare you take pity on me! You care just as much as everybody else in this goddamn school! You don’t even know the whole situation! All you are is my tutor and that’s all you’ll ever be! I’m sick and tired of everyone asking if I’m okay; you all saw it! You all saw me groveling on the ground and you saw Lee Donghae make a fool out of me! Stop trying to be my friend; just stop it!”
Aerin delivered a harsh kick to the chair on the ground, sending it reeling back into the desk behind hers. With a final glare in Kibum’s direction, she gathered her textbooks, slung her messenger bag over her shoulder, and stormed out of the study. If there was one thing she couldn’t stand, it was pity. Her mother had taught her to be resilient and proud, always keeping her head up even in the heaviest of circumstances.
Aerin stepped outside of the academic building and instead went into the fine arts building. The students in the advanced portrait and still life courses made excellent pieces of art that she couldn’t help but stare at during her free time. The hallway not lined with windows instead had pictures displayed in large glass cases. A few new pieces had been put up within the past month. One work in particular caught Aerin’s eye in the worst possible way.
It was simply a line sketch. No color; just different line weights and shadows. The setting in the picture was of a hallway lined with students on either side. The students didn’t have any distinct or unique facial features and neither did the female on the ground. She reached outwards to a figure not included in the drawing. Her eyes were obscured by her bangs, but the tears clearly caught the light in the picture and her lips were slightly parted. She was making a plea; an appeal that fell on deaf ears. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Aerin was the central figure in the picture. Sunggyu stood beside Aerin and scrutinized the drawing with impartial eyes. Whoever drew the picture captured the zenith of Aerin’s anguish during the break up a month ago. It wasn’t during her shouting or her groveling. It wasn’t even when she learned about the affair. It was in that moment that nobody saw—that moment where she watched the years she spent with Donghae crumble away into nothingness—where her anguish was the strongest. It was in that moment when the largest wound was made. And Bang Yongguk had captured that one transient internal moment on paper. Sunggyu thought the piece was impressive. It had captured only what he had seen within Aerin at that moment; the heart-wrenching, pitiful, beautiful influx of emotion. He glanced at Aerin and saw her clench her jaw.
That picture is gorgeous, Aerin. Is it of you? Sunggyu pressed his hands and face comically against the glass dividing him from the picture.
If it is, I swear I’ll find this bastard and make his life hell.
“Bang Yongguk, huh? Why would he put up something like this?”
“I didn’t want it displayed,” a deep voice chimed in from Aerin’s right, “but my professor insisted.”
Aerin turned her head and met a blonde male’s dark gaze. Dressed in mostly charcoal-spackled denim, he looked like an art student. He checked his watch, cleared his throat, and looked at his picture again. Aerin scowled at the drawing; no matter how “gorgeous” Sunggyu thought the picture was, Aerin couldn’t help but think it was horrendous. It showed her weakness; if there was anybody within the walls of Seoul National Heart that didn’t know Aerin’s inner musings on the issue of the break up, then they would with Yongguk’s damn picture. The duo—trio if you count the Cupid looking at the other pictures in the gallery—didn’t speak and instead let the tense atmosphere do the communicating. Yongguk pulled at the cuffs on his denim jacket. Aerin glared at the picture in front of her.
“I, um,” Yongguk started while taking care to choose his words carefully, “drew it for an assignment. Grief was the theme and…well, this came to mind.”
“Is this a picture of me,” Aerin managed to ask through grit teeth.
“I…it’s inspired by you. I didn’t want it to be put on display because of that. Almost everybody knows about it already. I didn’t want to pile more bull on top of that.”
“You already did. I hate this picture,” Aerin placed her hand against the glass and gnawed at her lower lip, “and I can’t believe you’d draw something like this.”
Yongguk rubbed the back of his neck before lowering himself into a ninety degree bow. “I knew this would happen if you found it. I didn’t want anyone to see it but my art teacher, ya’ know?”
Aerin shrugged and leaned against the display. The large glass windows that spanned the area from the ceiling to the tiled flooring had the perfect view of the soccer field and the humanities building. The sun felt cool against Aerin’s skin even though Sunggyu complained of being hot in his suit. The Cupid stood beside the silent female and placed his hand on the crown of her head. It took Yongguk a full ten minutes before he spoke directly to Aerin again.
“I…um, I can try to get it taken down. I will get it taken down,” Yongguk declared, “because, I mean…it’s an intimate moment. And…you didn’t deserve what you got.”
“Are you going to pity me, too?”
“No! No, not pity…just…know that you didn’t deserve any of that. Nobody does.” Another silence passed between the two. Then, “how about, um, we get some coffee or something? It’s still early.”
What?! C-c-coffee?! That’s how all human relationships start, isn’t it?! Is he hitting on you?!
Shut up, Sunggyu, Aerin mentally scolded the overreacting Cupid.
He’s going to take advantage of your vulnerability! I’ll just write—Sunggyu paused and fell silent. Uncomfortably silent. He tucked his wings in flat against his spine and turned away from Aerin.
“Um…I shouldn’t have asked, I guess,” Yongguk pulled at his jacket’s cuffs again.
“No, it’s fine! Really…how about this? You buy me coffee and a slice of cake from the coffee shop as payment for my emotional duress! Sound fair?”
“Emotional duress?" Yongguk laughed and stared out of the windows. "Hah, you’re so dramatic…how could anyone get tired of you?”
Aerin folded her arms over her chest and began to laugh. It wasn’t a superficial laugh used to make people think she was getting over Lee Donghae. It wasn’t a contemptuous snort that involuntarily left whenever anyone mentioned Jessica. No, it was a laugh that made her body shake and tears fill her eyes. She turned and watched as Yongguk’s smile widened, showing off his straight white teeth and his gums. His grin made Aerin laugh even harder. She laughed until her stomach ached and burned. Yongguk asked her to stay put in the gallery while he went to buy the coffee and cake. Aerin nodded and watched Yongguk’s back intently as he walked away from her. He glanced back at Aerin and once again flashed her that endearing gummy grin. When the blonde was out of Aerin’s line of view, she stood against the glass window and stared across at Yongguk’s picture. Sunggyu stood beside her as she withdrew her Cupid’s Log from her messenger bag.
Are you sure you want to use that right now, the apprehensive Cupid inquired while Aerin wrote Yongguk’s name down with a black ballpoint pen.
Of course I am, Aerin replied with ease. She wrote down the date and with a smile wrote down a little something else. What better way to get Donghae back than to try it the old fashioned way? Men are prone to jealousy.
Sunggyu glanced at the page in the notebook and attempted to mask his disappointment with a small smile and a supportive pat on Aerin’s back. The female’s slight smile did nothing to alleviate the wrenching sensation that made him sick to his stomach. She stared at the picture across the hall with more admiration and less revulsion.
I’ll never be that pitiful creature again; Aerin triumphantly thought as she glanced into the Log again, instead, Donghae will be on his knees begging for forgiveness.
Sunggyu looked down the hall when he heard footsteps approaching. Sure enough, Yongguk returned with two coffees and two slices of cake in plastic containers. Even though Aerin probably couldn’t sense the complex emotional changes beginning to take place within the male, Sunggyu could. He watched the two interact, one oblivious to the true intentions of the other. They sipped at their coffee and talked at length about the other pieces in the gallery. It all looked so innocent on the outside. Nobody but Aerin and Sunggyu knew about the clandestine manipulation of emotions going on underneath the surface.
October 5, 20XX Bang Yongguk Boyfriend