Chapter 15: Sick in All Ways
Just when things can’t get any worse, I fall ill. I’m literally staying awake in the washroom. I have a trash can in front of me, so I can vomit in there. Obviously, I’m sitting on the toilet, so other nasty stuff can be released into that hole. I’m sweating like crazy since there is no air conditioning in my washroom. Tonight also happens to be the hottest night of the month. Yeah, I’m just that darn lucky. I’m also wondering how it’s possible for me to be sick. Was it because I ate something bad? The only sketchy meal I had was that really cheap rice with chicken slices. Was it because of those coughing people that kept blasting their colds on me on the subway? Or what about my ill students who still attended class? Either way, I’m dead sick here with no one to help me out. My mother just so happens to be solving some issues with our relatives who live in Busan. There’s supposedly some sort of family drama that I don’t want to be involved in, so that cancels out my mother. My father is on some business trip as usual.

I know that I’m supposed to be tough it out and let the illness pass, but this time, I’m vomiting way too much. When I sip water, I want to throw that out too. I’m just praying that there will be some miracle. Maybe, I can call Yeonjun to rescue me, but we’re still fighting. I don’t really want to disturb the other guys. My situation probably isn’t that severe, and that’s why I go back and forth from my bed to the toilet the whole night. I end up excusing myself from work too and take the day off.
Just when I think I’m recovering the next day, I start to have a fever and my whole body feels numb in the afternoon. I can barely think now that I’m shivering my ass off. I feel so cold for some reason, yet my head feels particularly hot. Okay, I’m definitely getting a fever. I don’t need to Google this to know. I also know for sure that I should go see the doctor. I just have no idea what my family doctor’s phone number is. I’m not really sure where he moved either. His clinic relocated to some other place a few years ago, and I never bothered asking my parents where he moved. I never thought I’d ever get this sick. I thought I was over being the sick child I always was when I was very young. I used to visit the doctor twice a week. I had to take so much medicine that I thought going to the doctor’s clinic was fun. After relocating to the States for middle school, my health became better. I did more sports and breathed better air. I only had a few colds every year. There was honestly nothing severe, but now . . . I really feel like giving up. I want someone to knock me out, and just maybe, I’m going to wake up healthy.
I know that I need help as soon as possible, so I flip through my phone for Suho’s number. I realize that we’re not close, but I try anyways. I’m too desperate for attention, and there Suho goes: “Hello?”
“H-h-hey,” I croak weakly and softly. “It’s m-m-me . . . Leia.”
“Are you okay?” Suho immediately questions in a petrified tone.
“I think . . .  I’m dying,” I mutter.
“I’ll be right there. Okay? Just stay on,” Suho instructs. “I’ll call for my physician.”
“Okay.”
Minutes later, Suho appears in front of my apartment door. His hair is a mess, and his tie is loosened. He is breathing rather heavily, almost to the point where he is panting. “L-l-let’s go,” he orders and shifts his heel for the direction to leave. I suddenly realize how I’m dressed by looking down at my clothes. I’m in pajamas that don’t even match. I’ve only brushed my teeth after throwing up. My hair isn’t even combed. I can’t care anymore about how I look because I’m so dizzy right now. My hands are too numb to hold anything important. Suho turns his head to give me a scornful look: “Hurry. Grab your ID, health card and keys. We’ll worry about your hair later.”
“Okay,” I mumble and quickly follow after him.
I’m wearing flip flops, but my balance is still unstable. After nearly tripping, Suho instantly harks, “You okay? Do you need to hold onto me?”
“I think I’m—“
Because I tumble on my other foot, Suho seizes my hand and pulls me forward. As soon as I feel pain passing through his grip, Suho loosens almost by instinct. “Sorry,” he apologizes. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“It’s okay,” I utter and now swing my arm around his. I feel awkward waddling beside him, especially when he keeps glancing at me quite often. I feel embarrassed looking so ugly. I swear I have never felt so self-conscious before. I’m too sick though to even put on proper clothes. I barely have any energy to walk forward.
When we get to his car, I even bonk my head on the roof of his car. I don’t even feel pain as this point, whereas Suho becomes extremely agitated. “Are you okay?” he hollers and rubs the top of my head.
“Yeah, yeah,” I murmur while entering the car.
As soon as I put on my seatbelt, Suho starts the engine and steps on the gas. He drives quickly yet smoothly, and when we arrive, he even opens the car door for me. I honestly don’t remember how I managed to get to the clinic, but I do and now the doctor is asking me about my symptoms. After listing what happened, the doctor diagnosed me by saying that I had the stomach flu. Great. I should have known after all those signs. He hands me pills and gives me a doctor’s note so I can take a legit sick leave. I’ve asked for a few days off just in case I still visit the bathroom too often. Suho thinks that I have made the right decision since according to him, I look like a pale ghost. He believes that I have lost weight too. I guess that’s going according to plan in some way. Suho also insists on taking me home because after feeling my forehead, he says I’m burning like a toaster. I let him do whatever he wants to do because I can’t really think anymore. Plus, I’m just glad that there’s company.
When I wake up the next morning, I realize that I slept till 11. I wander to the bathroom and do my usual routine. When I get to the kitchen, I notice that there is a note on the fridge. Suho has written that he has cooked some congee for me and that on the kitchen counter, there are energy drinks for me. Somehow, I feel rather guilty. I feel like I don’t deserve this sort of kindness. Suho is really too nice, and I’m not sure how I can repay his kindness. As I hold the note in my hand, I suddenly hear the doorbell ringing. I’m not sure who can be here at this time, but I go answer the door. I’m utterly shocked when I see who is there: Yeonjun.
I unintentionally stammer, “Wh-wh-what are you . .  .”
Yeonjun lifts two plastic bags in the air while bolting into my apartment. He slips off his shoes easily and adds, “I got a text from Howon that you had the stomach flu, and knowing how stupid and careless you are, I bought some stuff for you. Did you even see the doctor?”
“Thanks,” I scrunch the note in my hand and mumble. “I . . . did.”
“Wow. That’s a surprise,” Yeonjun turns around to utter. “Thought you’d be too lazy to even move or be too stubborn to even do anything.”
“Aha . . .”
Yeonjun marches to the kitchen and drops his supplies onto my table. Then, he eyes the Powerades resting on my counter and grumbles, “Oh, you had time and the energy to buy these drinks?” I gulp down some spit and look away. Yeonjun immediately catches onto my anxiety and barks, “Oh, so someone came over? Who was it? Was it Suho?”
“About that . . .”
Yeonjun glares at me, gritting his teeth: “If you have someone to look after you, then there’s no need for me to come here.”
“No, Yeonjun, that’s not what I meant,” I tell him.
Grabbing onto his bags and moving towards the exit, Yeonjun howls, “I don’t want to hear it anymore.”
I manage to seize his arm, but he jerks me away, almost leading me to fall onto the ground. “Why?” I shout. “Why are you so mad?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Yeonjun bellows.
“No.”
Pivoting his head towards me, Yeonjun states, “I thought we were closer than that.”
“But,” I argue, “I can’t always be relying on you. I didn’t feel like contacting you when we were still fighting.”
“So it’s your pride?” Yeonjun shakes his head, sighing.
“N-n-n-no. It’s just that—“
“Don’t explain. There’s no need for that,” Yeonjun cuts me off abruptly.
Then, he slams the door. I’m absolutely shocked about what just happened, but before I can process anything, I glance down at my feet. Yeonjun still left the bags of groceries here. I take a peek inside and realize that he has bought almost everything that I could need to recover from my stomach flu. There are cold packs to ease my fever. There are bottles of ionized water and bottles of sports drinks. He even bought a bowl of congee for me and also pickled cucumbers. At this moment, I feel like crying and my throat is tingling. I think I’ve lost Yeonjun for good. Why was I so selfish that I chose love over friendship? Why couldn’t I just apologize to Yeonjun and solve everything for good? Is it impossible to have both love and friendship? Must I choose one over the other?
I feel a tear drizzle down my right cheek. I’m not sure what I should do.  For now, I take Yeonjun’s bags and place them on the kitchen table. I reach into the plastic bag for the congee he bought. It’s still quite warm, and I feel a sense of remorse surge in my chest. One week ago we were best friends, and a few days later, we are close to being strangers. Is our friendship that shallow? I really don’t know anymore. Years of friendship can just disappear like that. I can remember the moments when we shared drinks together at night just because we couldn’t fall asleep or because we both wanted to complain about work. I remember celebrating Christmas with Yeonjun since he pitied my single life. I remember bickering with him for nothing. Now, we’re not even talking.
I’m scared. I really am scared that I’ll lose Yeonjun for good. I don’t want to lose my best friend.
-----
Suho and I are sitting at a bar. After recovering from my week-long stomach flu, I must be stupid for consulting Suho about Yeonjun. I must be stupid for even starting with the question, “So . . . I have a friend who is fighting with her best friend because he doesn’t think she trusts him. I mean, she met a new guy, and well—“
Suho, without flinching, interrupts me, “I’m pretty sure her best friend is jealous.”
“Jealous?” I blink a few times, wondering.
“Yeah. I mean . . . there’s no other reason that he’d get mad right?”
“But . . . it’s impossible that he’d like her that way,” I debate with Suho. “They’ve known each other for years. They’re best friends. Best friends don’t fall for each other.”
“Why not?” Suho questions. “It’s possible to be someone’s best friend and someone’s lover at the same time.”
“But . . .”
“Your friend is just in denial,” Suho mutters while sipping his beer. Shooting a stern look at me, he notes, “Your friend probably already knew the guy’s feelings for her a long time ago but never wanted to admit it.”
“Wait . . . what?”
“Think about it.” Suho places his glass on the bar counter as he explains. “There’s no way two people can be so close without falling for each other at some point. Plus, I think your friend is pretty selfish for making that guy hang on the spot.”
“Huh?”
“Your friend reminds me of Jessica. She used to come to me for help, and I’d be there for her. We’d hang out with each other often. I thought she really needed me, but eventually, she only needed someone to listen to her,” Suho clarifies. His eyes remind me of a sinking ship, dying in despair. I have never seen this side of him before, but then again, I don’t know him very well. I must be going crazy then for seeking Suho’s advice when we’re not even that close.
“So . . . what should I do now?” I wonder aloud.
“Tell her to pick the new guy or to stick with her best friend,” Suho remarks. “Picking her best friend would mean that she likes her best friend too.”
“Like?”
“Yeah. She probably has some feelings for him anyways to be so conflicted about the whole situation.”
Suho and I sit there and just drink. I’m not sure how to respond to his statements, and I have a feeling that he knows that woman is me. It’s awkward. It’s really awkward, but I really am lost. I have feelings for Yeonjun? I have known that he has liked me for a long time? I honestly can’t imagine Yeonjun falling for me. It’s not as if I feel like he is superior to me. It’s just that I can’t visualize the two of us surpassing friendship. I mean, we did kiss, but I didn’t feel anything in particular then. I know, though, that if Yeonjun completely vanishes from my life, I’d miss him incredibly. He’s really my go-to person. He’s there for me whenever and wherever. He knows all my flaws, and I know all of his. We can stand each other somehow. It’s still amazing how he was able to become my friend after our first encounter. I mean, the typical guy would probably avoid me right after that? But he didn’t. Why didn’t he?
Did he like me then? Since when did he like me? It’s not possible for him to fall for me. It’s just not right. It’s incest. I’m supposed to be his best man or best girl for his wedding. I’m not supposed to be a potential candidate for his fiancée. That’s not right. That’s just not . . . right, but Suho’s words keep ringing in my mind.
Pick the new guy or stick with the best friend.
Whoever I choose would mean that I like that person? But . . . I can’t choose. I can’t give up Yeonjun, yet I don’t want to lose my chance with Suho. I’ve finally met a nice guy who is worthy to be my husband and who shows interest in me. I don’t even know whether or not Yeonjun likes me. And what if he actually does? What do I do? Do I like him back? What if he doesn’t, and I’m just thinking too much? What do I even do?
Accidentally, I blurt to Suho, “But . . . being jealous doesn’t mean that he likes my friend?”
“Has he done anything with her yet?”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“Like wanted to kiss her or . . .”
“Well . . . I guess they did kiss,” I murmur quietly.
“And he initiated it?”
“Y-y-yeah . . .”
“Yeah,” Suho answers without any hesitation. “He likes her. For sure.”
“So . . . what should she do?”
Suho scratches his chin and answers, “Choose him or don’t lead him on anymore and choose the other guy.”
“Can’t . . . they still be friends?” I ask.
“No,” Suho says sharply. “Girls and guys can’t be friends.”
Suddenly, I sputter, “Then what about us?” Oops. Here goes an awkward silence. Way to go Leia. Way to go. Way to make things awkward.
Suho stares at me intently and then asks back, “What do you want us to be then?”
Ugh . . . way to direct the question back at me. Ugh . . . improvisation. Improvisation Leia. You can do it. You can say something good like . . . “What do you want us to be then?” I repeat his question.
Suho laughs, saying, “I asked you first.”
“No,” I correct him. “Technically I asked the question first.”
“All right,” he agrees after taking a sip from his beer. He eyes me and utters, “I’m open to anything really. I’m sure . . . you know what that means.”
“Umm . . .” I stupidly blurt, “But I don’t even know your birthday.”
“It’s June 13th.”
“I don’t even know what your favourite colour is.”
“It’s brown.”
“That’s weird. Why would you like something coloured like poo?”
“Thanks.”
“Sorry. I’ll be open minded.”
“I also like to fish.”
“Oh. I don’t even know what time you were born.”
“Do you always ask that question to people?” Suho wonders.
“Umm . . . maybe,” I mutter.
“Anyhow, if you really want to know, it’s 4:28 pm.” There is this long break between us, and Suho unexpectedly asks me in a serious tone, "Is there anything you'd like to know?"

"Umm . . ."


Suho smirks by tilting his lips to the side and states, "I'm a pretty good kisser or so I've been told."


I feel my cheeks redden. If my demonic mind is thinking the right way, then this must be an invitation for me to kiss him. He didn't, though, ask me if I wanted to try, so . . . I must be thinking too much. That's why I answer as confidently as possible, "That's . . . a good skill to have."


Suho laughs wide enough for me to see his set of sharp fangs. "It's not bad," he adds, "but I guess it's not good enough for you."


"Oh no! That's not it!" I spill out. "It's just that . . . I don't know what else to say. I mean, it sounded like you wanted me to kiss you, but then--"


"I am asking you if you'd like to kiss," Suho interrupts steadily. At first I think he's joking, but the way he is staring at me proves otherwise.


Suddenly, I feel my stomach churn. I don't think I'm ready to show Suho my kissing skills. I didn't even practice enough with a stuffed toy. What if I have bad breath too? What if Suho and I bonk heads? What if . . . Suho becomes sick because of me? Apparently the stomach flu virus can pass on to others even when the patient has recovered. 


"I don't want you to be sick!" I scream aloud from my seat. "My virus might pass onto you!"


Suho beams a sweet smile, and then he takes my hand and kisses it softly. I'm somewhat embarrassed by his action, and I know I should think how romantic this is. However, I can't help thinking how dirty my hand is right now. I've touched a lot of things so far, like this glass, the counter, a door knob, etc. I just hope Suho doesn't get sick. 


"You don't like it?" Suho inquires.


"No!" I explain hurriedly. "It's not that . . . it's just that . . . you might get sick."


"Aha!" Suho laughs once more. "Okay then. After you're well completely, I'll be waiting for a proper kiss."


With a tomato shaded face, I hopelessly and shamelessly agree, "O-o-okay."


After our conversation, Suho pays for my drinks and sends me home. Just when I'm about to exit his car, Suho whispers in my ear, "Choose me, all right?" Then, I accidentally slam the car door, causing him to drive off.


I'm left with a few lingering thoughts. Okay, so he knows that I was talking about him. Great. And okay, if he knows and he tells me to choose me, then does that mean I've received an indirect confession? He likes me? He wants to be with me? I slam my palms onto my cheeks, gasping, "Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my--"


Crash.


I bump into an umbrella stand that has always been in front of the entrance of the apartment building. Even while my shin is bruised, I laugh it off because of my silliness. After that fit of stupidity and I'm in the elevator alone, I can't resist cheering, shrieking, and breaking out in a dance: "Yeah! Yeah! I got a confession! I got a confession! I got a--" My voice cuts off as soon as the doors open, and I see a head turn in my direction. Immediately, I mutter, "Wh-wh-what are you doing here?"


"I ran away from home."


"And?"


"So I need a place to stay."


"And . . . ?"


"And I figured your place was the best place to hide. Just let me stay for a few days, okay? Please?"


I don't even why I'm so softhearted, but seeing a ton of luggage ahead makes me agree, "Fine. If it's just for a few days, then I guess . . . you can stay."


Sehun instantly sprints towards me and clings onto me with a tight, warm embrace. "You're the best Leia!" he claims. "I don't know what I'd do without you!"


"Thanks," I mumble reluctantly.


"Don't worry!" Sehun backs away, proclaiming. "I'll do the dishes, cook and clean! It'll be like--"


"No!" I interrupt. "Don't touch anything!"


"B-b-b-but--"


"You'll break everything!" I hollered. "J-j-j-just move out by the end of the week and I'll be very happy!"


I still remember that other time when Sehun stayed at my place probably for the same reason as this time. He was kicked out of his girlfriend's place and needed a place to live before moving away. Sehun, at first, tried his best to clean, but he couldn't do anything properly. He broke many of my dishes. He flooded the whole kitchen by using the dishwasher improperly. He burnt some of my blouses by trying to iron them. Oh, he also shrunk some of my sweaters when he attempted to dry them in the dryer. These were some of the reasons that I could never fall for Sehun even though I did have a crush on him the first time I met him. I thought he was really cute and friendly. He also had a nice smile, but . . . later on, I realized he was too much of a kid who couldn't even take care of himself properly. And ever since then, he was just a friend.


So . . . what was wrong with having a friend stay over at my place?


Nothing wrong.


Nothing . . . wrong . . . at all?

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