02
“Wake up, sleepy poo.”

It’s Daeun’s sweet voice. That’s why I like sleeping at her place. I get to hear her wake me up, and I feel that that’s something little to look forward to each day. It’s too bad I can’t put it on repeat, then I’d want to keep living. 

 “Give me five more minutes,” I groan, holding onto my pillow.

She pounces on my back like a little kitty cat, and I pretend to be mad at her and attack her. She’s giggling and I’m having the time of my life trying to catch her by her wrists. She’s playfully resisting, muttering, “N-n-no, don’t catch me.”

Still, in the end, I manage to tower over her body, and I look at her as a lion would towards its prized prey. With a grin, I utter, “This is what you get for waking me up.”

“So you’d rather be sleeping the whole time then?” she wonders at me with those large, doe-like eyes. I don’t dare look at her more and let her go. There’s just too much to bear with that look of hers, and for some reason, I can’t deny her question. I sometimes do wish that I’d always be sleeping. I wouldn’t have to think or feel anything, but she’s here. I want to feel her.

I lean again towards her and give her a kiss on the cheek. “Come on,” I announce. “Let’s go out for brunch. I feel like having a French breakfast.”

“Okay!” she answers too happily. “Let’s go! I’ll just get ready. Give me half an hour.”

“Okay, okay,” I tell her. “I’ll wait for you in the kitchen when I’m done.”

It takes her more than an hour to get ready, but I don’t mind waiting. I’m drinking beer in the morning because that’s the only other alcoholic drink she has in her fridge. Daeun likes drinking cold beer on hot summer days, and today just so happens to be a sunny day. I guess it’s perfect even though I don’t like how beer makes me feel stuffed up like a turkey. Drinking will wake me up, I think to myself. Drinking beer over coffee, that is.

“Taeyang! I’m ready!” Daeun giggles too happily. She’s wearing a cute white dress made of lace. This dress show off her figure at the right spots, just the way I like it. It kind of makes me want to stay at home and fool around with her in the bed, but I resist my urges and give her a warm grin.

“Don’t forget a jacket so you don’t catch a cold,” I remind her.

“Oh right! Silly me!” She sticks out her tongue, rushing back to her closet.

 There goes another smile oozing from my lips. That’s what I like about Daeun. She’s adorable and so innocent. She’ll probably never understand why I always tell her to wear a jacket, but that’s okay. She doesn’t have to get it. As long as she’s listening to me, then it’ll be fine.

We’re finally out of the apartment and on our way to a local restaurant. She knows I don’t like exploring around and trying out different places, so she follows behind me. I try to wait for her, but she’s a slow walker and it’s because she’s wearing heels. She wants to be my height when she’s already close to eye level with me on flats. That only makes me walk faster, and now, she’s scurrying to catch up.

“Taeyang, wait up!” she pants. “I can’t keep up with you!”

I know how cruel it is for someone to constantly be the one chasing after the other. I know too well how that feels. My feet immediately take a stop. I wait for her to be on my pace, but no sooner, she’s scrambling to walk by my side until I don’t catch sight of her.

She has stopped for . . . 

I know what she wants as her eyes are fixated on the glass display of intricate jewelry. 

“Taeyang, look at these!” she proclaims. “They’re beautiful! Which one is your favourite?”

“Well, I’m not a girl, so—“

“Oh, Taeyang, quit being so funny,” she retorts. “Just pick one that you think would look good on me.”
There’s a sparkling emerald ring, but I think that’s too old for her. I see this heart-shaped, diamond ring, and I think it matches her perfectly. It’s sweet and adorable. Everything that she is can be found in that nicely cut stone. The price tag, though, makes my stomach uneasy. 60,000 dollars USD. Then, I see to the left, a smaller cut stone configured classically. It’s just a rounded diamond ring. Simple, but still elegant. So, I point my finger to that, and say, “I think that’s perfect for you.”

“Really?” She turns around to greet me with a flashy smile, but I know that that smile is partially fake. She expects more from me. She’s looking at me like Jikyung would, except Jikyung would be more explicit and harsher. Daeun is just upset, but she doesn’t judge me. 

“Yeah,” I try to reassure her, “All the others might capture my attention at first, but this one . . . I think this one is meant to stay.”

She’s still looking at me with a puzzled expression. She doesn’t get it, but it’s okay. She’s still smiling at me, saying, “Well, I think you have good taste!”

“Thanks, but just pick whatever you’d like,” I mumble. “I’m really bad at art and design.”

“Huh?” She gawks at me, petrified. “You’re really buying this? Really? For me?”

“Well, we’re already moving in,” I tell her. “Isn’t it natural for us to get married?”

“Taeyang . . .”

She leaps into my arms, and it feels great. I feel alive once again even when her weight is overburdening my shoulders. I like making others happy. I do because it makes me happy. It’s just somehow I wonder how long this happiness will last. Will I be able to keep this happiness or will it be gone?

I want to ask Jikyung if she knows the answer, but I don’t even know how to start. I’m engaged? Would she even understand? Would she be hurt? No, she couldn’t possibly be hurt. It’s Jikyung. Cold, calculating, pragmatic Jikyung. And we’re just friends. She might have been infatuated with me after what I heard from Hyomin, but it’ll all go away. It went away for me for another friend of mine. In the end, she was just a sister to me.

So, I should tell her, but . . . I don’t. It just feels wrong, and she’ll want to grill me with questions about my relationship with Daeun. I’d rather not explain anything and undergo an interrogation with the police. I’d rather she be oblivious. We’re finally better friends now, so I’ll just wait until she gets a boyfriend before saying anything. She’d be too busy thinking about her boyfriend than pressuring me.

----
I end up drinking more than I said I would. I can’t believe my own eyes. She’s dating Junghoon, that bastard. Of all people, she chooses Junghoon. He’s totally wrong for her. After all those discussion we had about ideal guys, she ends up going for the exact opposite: irresponsible, lazy, promiscuous and unmotivated. Hell, Junghoon crams even more than me for exams and drinks way more, yet she’s perfectly fine with that. Junghoon loves to go clubbing and pretty much goes every night, and again, she’s okay with it.

God, she’s dating him, I repeat in my head. He’s the worst guy on campus, and he’s so fucking annoying. How can she even stand him? He tags behind me all the time. He cracks jokes at me for no reason. He’s nosy, really nosy; he wants to know everything about me. I just keep my cool, hoping that he’ll get the message, but he doesn’t.

She thinks it’s going to work, but I can tell her that it won’t. She’s screaming at me saying that I’m not being supportive. I just want her to know that I’m wishing her for the best. She doesn’t understand any of that. She refuses to listen or accept my opinion or anyone’s. She’s just that stubborn. I don’t even want to correct her anymore.

“Taeyang, don’t drink so much,” Daeun gently reminds me, grabbing onto my sleeve. We’re at a social for med students and everyone has brought their significant other, meaning that Jikyung is there too with Junghoon.

Junghoon is whispering something in her ear, and she’s giggling so loudly that I can hear her from the other side. I’m tempted to go over to them to figure out what’s so funny, but Daeun is clinging onto me. I know she needs me, so I stay. I watch Junghoon pour more alcohol into Jikyung’s glass. I have no idea that she could drink so much. I had no idea that she even drank. She always said that she hated the taste of alcohol. It was too bitter for her, but now she’s drinking some hard whiskey. What’s wrong with you, I want to ask.
After she finishes her drink, Junghoon pulls her along to the dance floor. They don’t dance though. Instead, they are gone. I’m pretty sure they have left the club. After all, Junghoon has an attention span of a stupid puppy. Then, the sudden thought of them returning to his apartment haunts my mind. I’m imagining them fucking. I don’t want that image in my head. I don’t want to see her . . .

“Taeyang, are you feeling tired? We can leave if you want,” Daeun whispers in a hushed voice.

I shake my head and give her a grin. “No, it’s fine, and I can’t just leave like this,” I tell her. “I have seniors here, and an important professor is also here.”

“Oh okay,” Daeun agrees. “If you’re ever tired, I’ll find us a way to sneak out.”

Giving her a peck on her head, I mumble, “Don’t worry. I’ll be okay.”

Somehow, I feel like those words are meant for myself. I want to tell myself so badly that it’ll be okay. I’ll get over it, and I will.
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