Chapter 25: Breaking Point
"Hello? Who's speaking?"

A woman's voice. 

I immediately hang up, and I almost forget to breathe. I should have known. I should have known better. It's already the evening now. It's completely reasonable for a woman to answer Yeonjun's cell phone. What . . . was I even thinking? 

"Hahaha!" I laugh fairly loudly, lifting my head up to see the dimming sky. What's worse is that I feel a few droplets of rain land on my forehead. Can my day get even more awful? Talk about having a bad day . . .

I toss my phone back into my purse. My nose starts sniffling, but I tell myself that I can't cry. I'm braver than that. This is nothing really. I just need to find myself home. I have my purse with me as well as my cell phone and wallet. As I walk down the hill towards a main highway, I search for a taxi's number and call it. Unfortunately, because I have no idea where I am, they can't really help me. I also can't seem to get data at this location. Am I that far away from civilization? Why isn't my phone cooperating with me?

I suck it up and start my journey back home. By the time that I reach the sidewalk of the huge highway, my feet are throbbing. The side of my heels are rubbing hard, almost digging into my skin. Every step feels like a dagger thrusting into me. The rain also starts to pour harder, making the ground rather slippery. You can do it, Leia, I remind myself. You can go back home. Just get to some street in Seoul, and then you can call the taxi for home. You're almost . . .

Slip.

I fall right onto my knees, scraping them completely. Crying out in pain, I feel tears seep down my cheeks along with the rain. I'm scared. I'm cold. I'm shocked. I'm frustrated. I'm upset. Most of all, I'm tired, mentally and physically. This is really my breaking point. 

"Ah!" I shriek once before I begin whimpering. I keep hearing that woman's voice: Hello? Who's speaking? My heart hurts, hurts so much that I don't know what to do now. It's as if my one hope has been ripped apart from me, and I have been pushed to darkness. I don't know how deep I'm falling. Maybe, I have always been in a trench. Yeonjun is the one that tossed me there, and now he is burying me alive.

All of a sudden, I hear my cell phone ring. There's the faint sound of Doraemon's theme song playing. Reaching into my purse, I pick my phone up and answer, "H-h-h-hello?"

"Leia! Where are you?" 

I almost feel my lips make a smile, yet I realize that it's not who I expected it to be. "I . . . don't know where I am," I mutter.

"Wasn't Suho sending you back or? What in the world happened? I thought you were going to call me if you needed my help!" Sehun screams so furiously over the phone that my ears almost ring.

"I'm sorry," I apologize quietly.

"Anyhow . . . just describe where you are, and I'll try to find you," he remarks.

"I'm at a highway . . ."

"Okay . . . what else is around you?"

"There's a river below this highway, and . . ." I look back before answering, "there's this hill behind me."

"Anything else? What about the signs on the highway? What do they say?"

"Like . . . 50 km from Seoul?"

"Okay . . . I think I might know where you are . . ." he says. "Just . . . uh . . . stay where you are! I'll be right there. Text me what you're wearing exactly, so I know too. I'll also grab you an extra set of clothes, some towels, and some food."

"Thanks," I murmur.

"See you."

The call ends like that, and I'm just sitting on my bottom against some railing. All of my clothes are drenched, and my toes are getting numb. Slipping off my shoes, I place them by my side. I stare at my swollen, torn feet. Ouch. I guess I won't be wearing any heels or wedges for a week at least. Then, I see my scratched up knees. The blood has dried up now, but I know for sure, that I'll get a scar or two from this fall.

I guess this is what I get for lying to so many people. I'm sorry. I was wrong. I shouldn't have been dishonest. I should have come clean ages ago. I should have refused to help Yeonjun. I shouldn't have wanted to have some lovely romance. Really, for a while, I did think that Suho was a great guy, like a prince that popped out of a storybook. I was pitying him because I would reject him, yet all along, I was the stupid one. I was the one that needed pitying. I was foolishly naive. I thought no one would lie to me, but in the end, everyone is feeding me some sort of lie.

There's Suho with his perfect image. Then, there's Yeonjun who keeps hiding his emotions. Sehun, too, has liked me for a long time, and he pretended that I was just a friend. What about the others then? Are there more lies or secrets that I have to uncover? 

Really . . . I'm tired. I'm sick of everything. Why can't life be simpler? Why can't love be easy?

I bury my head between my arms and sulk for the longest time. An hour probably goes by like this, and then . . .

Grab.

My whole body is being scooped up by . . . Sehun. My heart quivers as he carries me over to his car. The cars behind him are all honking him, but he doesn't even care. He hops over this railing and then puts me in the back seat. I click the seat belt on, and instantly, he instructs, "There's a towel beside you along with your sweat pants, hoodie, socks, and runners. I . . . hope you don't mind that I grabbed a pair of undies and bra for you as well. I also have some hot, ginger tea in the front for you and soup."

"Sehun . . . you really didn't have to . . ."

I see his eyes peer at me through the mirror as he replies, "I said I'd be there for you if you needed help." As soon as I feel a tear about to emerge, Sehun notes, "Don't cry . . . please. It'll hurt me even more."

Quietly, I wipe myself dry to the best of my ability. I also change into all the clothes that he has brought me. When I'm putting on my underwear, I even see if Sehun is spying on me. Nope. He has his eyes completely glued on the road. What a gentleman, I think. If it were Yeonjun, he'd purposely glance at me and then make fun of me.

I sigh to remind myself that I should stop thinking about Yeonjun now. Sehun is actually my boyfriend. He is the one that rescued me at my lowest, so he deserves to be loved by me. 

"Can you pass the tea and soup please?" I ask.

"Sure," he replies, handing me the food. 

As I drink the tea, I feel my body becoming warm again. I actually feel more energized. I should not feel that I'm unlucky. I'm extremely lucky to know who actually will be at my side when I'm breaking down. Sehun . . . really is the right choice.

This belief is reaffirmed once we are home, and Sehun takes care of me completely. He helps me clean the cuts on my knees. He fills a hot water tub for me and even sets aside a bowl of hot water to soak my swollen feet. After I finish taking a bath, Sehun also helps me blow dry my hair. I tell him that I can do that by myself, but he says he wants me to feel beautiful again. Somehow, he can sense that I need a confidence boost, and I guess I do.

"When you feel sad, you need to be the prettiest that you can be," Sehun tells me as he uses a comb to help curl my hair while blow drying. I'm sitting in front of my dresser, watching him do his magic, and I'm unexpectedly reminded of that time when Yeonjun transformed me. I really felt amazed by his skills. I felt beautiful for the first time, and now, with Sehun's help, I'm feeling beautiful in a different way. Gently leaning against my shoulders with his fingers, Sehun asks, "So, what do you think? Like it?"

"I do." I smile at him. "Thank you."

Sehun returns my smile, uttering, "I'm glad you're happier now. I really like your smile, you know?"

"Wh-wh-what?"

"Just keep smiling, Leia," he says. "Okay?" Sehun beams a sweet grin while using his fingers to draw a smiley face. "But . . ." he, out of the blue, adds, "if you want to cry, then cry it all out. It's no good seeing a forced smile." His words trigger my throat and eyes to grow sore. Oh no. I know. I know I want to cry. Stroking the top of my head, Sehun suggests, "Let it all out. It's okay."

"Wah!" I sob.

I reach forward to hug Sehun, who envelops me in his arms. "It's going to be okay," he whispers. "I'll always be there for you. I promise."

I cry even harder at this point. I'm touched, upset, and remorseful, all at the same time. It's going to take a long time for me to reciprocate the extent of his feelings for me. There might be a chance that I'll never love him as much as he loves me, and I don't want that to happen. I don't want to be selfish, but my hands are still clinging onto him. I know that I can't let go right now. I'm desperate, I admit. I'm desperate to be loved back. This is what happens when years of my feelings have been suppressed. I can't hold onto them any longer. 

Sehun, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm using you as a rebound, but I'm grateful that you are here. I'm too fortunate to have you by my side.
----
 
Beep. Beep. Beep.

Uh . . . the alarm . . . Slam. Wait . . . it's soft, and my alarm is still ringing.

I open my eyes to find Sehun lying beside me in bed. I just hit his arm, which is holding me from behind. No wonder it was so hard to move. As I peer backwards, I notice that he is completely . . . naked . . . like usual. Then, he adjusts himself closer and poke . . .

I back away and fall the ground, screaming, "Ah! Keep your penis to yourself!" Unfortunately, I drag the whole blanket along with me, meaning that Sehun is completely exposed. With my eyes shut, I holler, "G-g-g-go put some clothes on!" 

Still in a groggy mode, Sehun rubs his eyes. "Uh . . . wh-wh-what time is it?"

"It's 7 o'clock, and I have a class at 8:30!" I yell.

"So . . . early," he mumbles before collapsing face front into his pillow. 

"Hey!" I yell while picking myself up from the ground and tossing the blanket back onto the bed. "Get up! Don't you have work?"

"9 am for me . . ." His voice trails off.

Out of jealousy and anger, I slap his a.s.s. "Yeah! Wake up!" I bark. "You're not allowed to sleep after freaking me out with your body!"

"Uh . . ." I give his other butt check another slap, but this time, he manages to grab onto my forearm. I land more than half of my body onto the bed; my legs, though, are still hanging off of the edge. "Go back to sleep . . ." he still mutters.

"No! I can't! I have work!" I argue.

Just as I'm about to pull myself up, Sehun angles his head in my direction. He can barely open his eyes, which reminds me of a pug with its face all crinkled up. "I'm . . . tired," he groans, "after . . . yesterday."

After yesterday . . . 

Gosh. I almost forgot about that. Right. He needs his rest. I decide to give him a break and head off to make breakfast. Out of the goodness of my heart, I decide to make two servings. Sehun will get some food in the morning too. After all he did last night, I really do need to thank him. As I'm beating the eggs, I hear my cell phone ring. I follow the sound of my ring tone to my purse that is lying on my couch. Without even checking the caller ID, I answer, "Hello?"

"Leia? You called last night?"

Yeonjun's voice nearly makes my heart stop. I remember to breathe and reply, "Yes."

"And?"

"Haneul answered the phone right?" I confirm.

"Yes, but that's besides the point. Why did you call?" he questions.

"I . . ."

"I'm about to go into a meeting soon, so if it's anything urgent, then--"

"I went to see Suho last night."

"Oh . . . but didn't I say that you didn't need to go anymore?"

"I still wanted to help you."

"I'll be fine by myself, Leia. You should worry about more important things in your life."

"I . . . don't want to start an argument with you about what's important in my life, so I'm just going to say that Suho showed me sketches of their perfume bottles and even let me smell the scent of one of them. I think he plans on releasing a perfume that smells like roses in the spring," I explain.

"I see."

"And . . . he knows," I mutter.

"Knows about?"

"He knows that you were asking me to extract info from him."

I hear Yeonjun scoff once before uttering, "That b.astard . . . wouldn't have expected any less from him. Ha."

"And . . . he was threatening me to give up info on your side," I add. "Yeonjun . . . he's not an easy person to deal with. In fact, I think you should be cautious of him. After he told me that he knew about me helping you, he got really . . . creepy. It felt like there's no way telling what he'll do next."

"It'll be fine."

"Be careful . . ."

"You too."

Cut.

The phone call ends like that. I don't know what I was expecting. Yeonjun to comfort me? To ask if I was hurt or not? He's just not that type, especially when he has a meeting to attend to. I need to get over these feelings when I'm already in a relationship. "Ugh . . ." I shake my head to wake myself up and stretch my arms in the air. "Back to breakfast. Back to breakfast. Yup. Yup!"

When I chop some onions, I feel my eyes start watering. Thank you, stupid onions. Thank you for making me crying again, but my chest still feels sore. It hurts, and I know I'm disappointed. Why? Because I expected too much from Yeonjun . . . I thought that he'd at least say some kind words. I only wanted those from him. Instead, he piles more and more dirt on me, reminding me of the harsh reality. 

Then, I glance at the time on my phone. Crap! I really have to hurry now! I can't be late for work huh?

------

Nothing new happens during one of my lectures. I'm just repeating something that I have taught before. After all, final exams are coming up, and the students are more worried than me. I'm glad that I only have two classes of first year students; those tend to be far too big that I would never have time to finish marking the exams. Sure, I do have a couple of teacher assistants helping me out, but I still have to go through each exam properly. Speaking of which, I have to create new questions this time. Can't be too lazy there . . .

"Professor Nam," an annoying, chirpy kid utters, "I believe you have the equation wrong there. There's an exponent on the r."

"Oh," I lie. "I was just seeing if anyone was paying attention. Thank you for letting me know."

"Will this be on the exam?" a stupid student asks now.

I give a professional grin, answering, "Anything that is in the textbooks that you have and in my lectures are all fair game."

"Oh . . . but I mean, is there more emphasis on the latter chapters or--"

"That is up to your judgment," I utter. "Class is dismissed. We will finish the review next time."

Before the students can attack me with questions, I quickly pack my papers and slip them into my bag. I pretend that I have an important meeting right after this lesson, so the students will have to email the assistants first. Even though my escape is wonderful, I end up being stopped by Jessica, surprisingly. She is standing out the door of the lecture hall.

"I need to talk to you privately," Jessica states with her back resting against the wall beside the doors of the classroom. 

"What of?" I wonder. "Oh, and did you enjoy your honeymoon?"

"My honeymoon went well," she answers as we walk down the hallway to my office, "and I prefer that we don't walk and talk about our private lives."

"All right. I guess we'll talk in my office then," I reply.

"That would be good." 

With that note, Jessica follows me all the way to the end of the corridor. We make a sharp turn right and then after a few more steps, we reach my room. As I reach for my keys to unlock the door, I wonder, "So . . . what did you want to tell me about?"

She doesn't tell me until we're both in the room and the door is safely closed behind us. In a stern tone, she blurts, "I'm going to cut to the chase and say that I heard some stuff from the others guys about you."

Settling down in my leather chair, I ask, "What do yu mean by that?"

Jessica, who takes a seat across from me, confirms, "You're dating Suho right?"

I"m not sure how to answer this properly, so I just mutter, "Uh. . ."

"Well either way," she crosses her legs and arms, noting, "I hope you don't get serious with Suho."

"What makes you say that?" I pretend to act like I know nothing about Suho's scandalous past and his creepiness. 

Letting out a sigh, she continues to explain, "His friends told me that they're placing bets on you and that . . . he's just using you or trying to figure out what your purpose is."

"Okay . . ."

Jessica whips her hair behind her, and with her eyebrows narrowing together, she interrogates, "You're close with Lee Yeonjun right?" When I glance away, she immediately remarks, "Mm . . . don't try to think that you can get anything from Suho. In fact, you should be careful."

"Wait . . ." I sputter. "I thought you and Suho were close? He even said that he had liked you for a long time?"

"Ha!" she cackles. "Sure, he did chase after me, but of course, I knew better. He was only interested in me because I resembled Haneul." Leaning closer to me, she wonders, "You know Haneul right?"

"Yes . . ."

"Well, I guess you know about his obsession with her," she clarifies.

"Haneul . . . do you know why is he so obsessed with her?" 

She shrugs her shoulders and rolls her eyes. "Beats me. Anyhow, I just wanted to give you these words of advice." Then, she stands up and prepares to leave. Just before her hand touches the door knob, she shifts her focus back to me and declares, "You know . . . I won't say that Suho is a bad guy because I've known him for a while now and I still consider him my friend. It's . . . just that . . . he has his demons, and it's not entirely his fault that he has become this way."

I'm really left with a lot to digest during my free block. How can his awful personality or his scandals not be entirely his fault? Was he abused as a kid? What of his family? What . . . really happened to him? I can't help but ponder about his severe infatuation or love for Haneul. Why her? What did she do exactly to make him go crazy for her?

Mmm . . . I guess even if there are so many questions left unresolved, I can't do much about them. It's safer that I'm ignorant. Ignorance is bliss in this case. The more I become involved with Suho, the more danger that I'd put myself in. I really just . . . have trouble believing that he was acting all this time. What about that time that we first met? I don't think he'd be blushing out of an act. He still helped me with my embarrassing situation. What side of him was real then, and what side was fake? 

Buzz. Buzz.

My cell phone starts to vibrate, and I notice that Sehun has sent me a message. 

What time are you off from work?

I'm done at 5 pm today.

What class?

Umm . . . it's in room 316.

Okay.

Wait. What do you mean by that?

Sehun never answers my question over text, and I actually forget about this until 5 pm. My last lecture has ended; as I exit the room, I notice a lot of female students ahead of me that are ogling at a certain guy. My eyes follow their gaze and realize that that man is Sehun! Some girls are now whispering to each other and commenting about his looks.

"Leia!" Sehun finally looks up from his cell phone to greet me with a suave wave.

"Oh . . . hi," I quietly murmur.

A girl even snaps a picture of him, and I hear another say, "Wow. Can't believe our prof has such a hot bf . . . Who knew huh?"

My stomach feels so uncomfortable that I kind of want to throw up. I can't really handle everyone staring at us and gossiping. "What's wrong, Leia?" Sehun wonders.

Pulling him aside to a place down the hall where we can talk freely, I ask him, "Wh-wh-what are you doing here?"

"Picking you up from work?" he innocently answers. "Didn't I tell you over text that?"

"B-b-but it doesn't have to be here?" I reason. "And no . . . you just asked for my room?"

"Oh," he notes. "I thought you'd understand by that. . ."

"And you never replied to my other text!"

"Oh shoot." His palm hits his forehead. "It's probably Minhee."

"Minhee? Who's that?" I hark.

"She's a singer who's having her come back soon, and my dad just put me in charge of producing her album," he replies.

"So . . . what does that have to do with not answering me?" I raise one of my eyebrows at him, which unexpectedly causes him to laugh. "Wait. Why are you even laughing? Huh?" His laugh grows louder, while I continue to snap at him, "What's so funny? I don't get--"

Without any warning, Sehun pulls me towards him using one of his arms. He gives me a peck on the forehead before saying, "I'm happy that you're jealous. Haha." Jealous? I'm jealous? No way! There's no way that I could be jealous of any girl because, because . . . "Don't worry," he cuts into my thoughts. "I'll be extra careful with my phone next time. I'll make sure she doesn't touch it. I'm pretty sure she deleted your message on purpose."

I frown out of disbelief. "Now why in the world would she do that?" I push Sehun slightly away to conclude, "Wait . . . she has a crush on you!"

"No way! She's only like 15."

"So? The age gap isn't that that big," I argue. "I'm telling you that she has a big, fat crush on you, and--" I stop myself from saying more. What . . . in the world am I even thinking of saying? How can I be so selfish? How can that . . . thought even cross my mind?

"And . . . you . . ." Sehun peers at me suspiciously. I take this moment to wiggle away from him and head the other way. I'm pretty sure my face is all flustered, and I'm acting like a little school girl. This is so embarrassing, especially when several of my students are watching me. Sehun, however, chases after me and calls out, "Wait! Hold on!"

I still ignore him and push the door open for a set of stairs. As I'm on the third step, Sehun lightly grabs onto my wrist. "L-L-Let go," I stammer, pulling at my sleeve.

"Just hold on a minute," he releases his grasp to reply. "You . . . don't want me to be close with her right?"

"W-W-Well . . . it is your job. You c-can't just ditch her," I stutter. Ugh. Why am I answering him like this? This is so, so humiliating.

I hear Sehun's sigh, and out of the corner of my eyes, I see his weak, forced smile. "Aha. At least . . . we're making progress right?"

Since I can't stand seeing him in pain, I take a step down and then I wrap my arms lightly around his neck. I can feel his nose pressing against my chest as I tell him, "I'm sorry that I'm a mess."

His gentle eyes stare up at me. "I'm glad I'm making you confused about your feelings," he states. "That means I still have a chance."

Sehun looks so cute that I'm tempted to kiss his forehead, yet just as I'm about to do that, I see a student climbing up the stairs from the bottom floor. My teeth accidentally bonk Sehun's forehead instead, causing him to groan in pain. Instantly, I apologize, "I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to--"

Sehun starts chuckling away, and his laugh becomes contagious. I giggle along with him until he seizes the opportunity to change the topic: "Say, you hungry? Want to grab dinner now?"

"Sure. What do you have in mind?"

And it happens to be ramen. Ramen is on Sehun's mind. I mean, I don't really have a preference since I always have trouble deciding what to eat. I'm just happy that he knows where to go. In fact, he takes me to this popular street ramen booth. It's supposedly famous for eating ramen out the in the cold while standing. I mean, it is winter, and ramen is warm, so I guess that balances out everything. We're also lucky that we line up before a huge crowd forms, and by the time we receive our pork bone ramen bowls, there are people holding numbers and waiting just to get a number to line up. 

"Wow," I instinctively comment. "I had no idea that this place was so popular!"

"Me neither to be honest," Sehun says. "I only heard from Nina about this place."

"Nina?" I glimpse at him again.

"She's the leader of this girl band," Sehun explains.

After slurping my noodles, I comment, "Mm . . . you are quite the popular one."

"Haha!" he laughs too easily. "You want a bottle of vinegar as your Christmas gift?"

"Hey! I wasn't being jealous or anything. I was just stating the obvious!"

"Sure. Sure. I think I should call you 'Vinegar Girl' now."

"Sehun!" I bark and point my chopsticks at him. "Don't you dare think about calling me that! I am not that type of girl!"

"Well," he tries to comfort me, "honestly, I've been jealous of you and other guys before."

"What?" I almost spit out my soup onto the table. "No way!"

"You text Eunhyuk a lot, and you've always been very close with Yeonjun. Then, when you said that you got a boyfriend, I tried to be happy for you. I tried my best to be the friend. I also tried dating other people to hopefully make me fall out of love with you, but . . ."

"But?"

"You have half a noodle stuck on your cheek," Sehun announces.

"What? No way!" I pat both of my cheeks rapidly before finally getting that piece off of me. "Anyways . . . continue?"

Sehun bursts out laughing to the point where he is holding onto his stomach. "I seriously . . . can't. God! That was too funny! Ha!"

"Oh come on!" I urge. "Just say it."

"Another time."

"Come on!"

"No. Another time when the mood is right."

"What mood?" I jab him in the ribs now.

"Hey! You know that I'm ticklish!"

"Which is why if you don't tell me, I'll keep attacking!" I proceed to poke his abs, but Sehun keeps blocking. We have this little fight until I feel my cell phone vibrate in my pocket. "Hang on," I utter. "Let me read this message first."

Hi Lei-a! Long time no chat~ It's Sohee here, in case you forgot about me. Keke. Anyways, just wanted to let you know that the bridesmaids dresses need to be tried on! We have to fit you perfectly, so let me know if you're free this weekend? <3

"Oh shoot!" I grumble. I seriously want to bang my head against some wall now. I completely forgot about Sohee! She still thinks that Yeonjun and I are . . . a couple. Oh crap!

"What's wrong?" Sehun asks.

I debate in my mind whether or not I should let Sehun know about that lie I made towards Sohee. If Sehun knows, then he'd get hurt right? If he finds out by himself, he'd be mad right? To hide or not to hide, that is the question. My mouth, however, slips, "Nothing." I successfully poke his ribs and cheer, "Got you! You fell for my trap! Ha!"

"That's a cheap move!" he demands.

Yes . . . that is a cheap move, indeed, but I'd rather that I don't hurt you anymore.
 
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