Tell me what is love (Chapter 15)
The sun rose a little early the next day. It probably shone a little brighter too. Whatever was the reason, Baekhyun had woken up from the first of many no nightmare sleeps that day. Opening his eyes before his dreaded alarm went off, his brain immediately took him to the recap the night earlier.
She had said yes. Yes! But it came with a catch. She needed time to move on completely, and he respected that, probably respected her even more for being so thoughtful for both herself and him. It was crazy to him how one day and the courage to act, take a step (albeit a tiny one) could do wonders.
Just as he had done years ago when he first asked her out.
Feeling excessively chirpy, he woke up to make her breakfast- maybe his special omelette rice? She would love that, wouldn't she? To his surprise, she was already in the kitchen, fully dressed, sipping on a coffee on her laptop, typing furiously.
“Good Morning.”, he sang, catching himself from stooping low to kiss her. Nope, they were not in that phase yet.
Thankfully, she hadn't seen that little manoeuvre of his.
“Hey! Sorry I couldn't make any breakfast. I need to run to the office in a while.”
“That's not a problem! Although, I can make you a little something before you leave. I know how cranky you are about breakfast.”, he cooed in front of her.
She looked at him with utmost adoration, “It’s fine, really. I’ll be stopping by Minseok’s cafe and…” she trailed off, mumbling, making Baekhyun lean in to listen closely.
“And? What was that? I missed that.”
She looked at him expressionlessly and, taking a huge breath, continued, “I have to meet Jaebeom. He called last night. Apologized for walking out and wanted to mend things.”
He didn't respond to that. Washing a few cups and with his back towards her, he asked, “And are you getting back together?” in the most nonchalant voice possible.
“I don't know.”
The words penetrated him like a dagger through the heart. Trying to keep a calm voice, he continued, “Are you trying to get back at me? Is this a Let us torture Baekhyun session? Did I think our conversation last night pointed in a different direction? Or was I dreaming?”
“We agreed that we’ll think about it. But that still means I will have to talk to Jaebeom. I dated the man for eight months; you didn't think those feelings would disappear overnight because you say you want me again, right?”
“Why can't you meet him here?”
“What? At your house?” she asked, surprised.
“Yeah. What is the problem? Are you afraid that I will find out how much you love each other? Geez.”, he fumed.
“I was being considerate. Would you think he will be okay with me staying with you here?....”
“And what about me?”, he sounded hurt by her pure ignorance, “what about I would feel in any scenario? Looks like I have been put out of the picture of everyones life.”
“You know that isn't true.”
He did not answer. Baekhyun was tired of being second place. He quietly left the kitchen, leaving Hye hee feeling guilty for saying what she had said. As she walked over to the bus stop, realization hit her that perhaps the way things were said werent exactly right. Baekjhyun was very sensitive at the moment and anything she said would only aggravate the situation. What was most absurd to her was that she was finding it excessively difficult to come to a conclusion about her feelings. Last night, she did want to give baekhyun and her another shot. But she wasn't able to let Jaebeom go. Her brain was muddled with the two men. She sighed thinking about the mess she was sucked deep into- two guys? She had outdone herself.
Getting off at the intersection close to the cafe, she walked a bit to find Minseok unloading milk and bread of a truck into his cafe. It felt good to see a friendly face once again. He caught her eye and put down the carton of bread to send across the brightest smile and activvely wave at her with both his arms high in the air. Hye hee ran the distance, hugging her friend. Oh, how she had missed the earlier days of pointless banter over plots and coffee.
“Why, hello, miss!”, he exclaimed, engulfing her into a tight hug.
“Ugh, i missed you. I missed this place!”, she snuggled into him.
“Well, the place is always grounded here and so am i. You've just forgotten about us missy.”, he accused, picking up his carton again. Hyehhe got the door for him and followed him in. The place was still the same and that gave her comfort. Minseok wasn't for updos and he only added more plants and a few lights here and there, apart from that, the smell, the photo corner, the planty corner and the front desk all seemed cozily familiar.
Hye hee waited in her corner spot, sipping on a ‘in-house special’ coffee, while Minseok loaded and paid the delivery man.
“Okay, fill me in.”,he was determined to hear her out.
“Jaebeom and I broke up.”
“I left Jane’s to go over to Baekhyun’s, because i didn't want to stay there.”
“...uh.. Okay?”He seemed confused already.
“Baekhyun wants to start dating again.”
“That's great, no?”, he sounded confused by her tone of absolute blankness.
“Yeah, thats what I thought too. But now Jaebeom wants to get back together…”
“Ooh, arent we miss popular now.”, he smirked grabbing the coffee in front of her.
“Minseok, do not laugh.”
“What’s the issue? Do you not like Baekhyun anymore?”, he asked.
“No. I do. But as it seems, I can't seem to get over Jaebeom too.”
“Thats only normal.”, he said, sipping coffee.
Hye hee did not get his lack of ability to grasp the situation in front of her. Oh, how she missed Jane during times like these.
“And Jane isn't talking to me.”
“You dumped her brother.”
“Jaebeom is coming over in an hour. We agreed to meet here. Baekhyun is already mad that i am.”
“What did you expect? For him to jump with joy? Read about his divorce, the guy has a rough life ahead of him.”
“He’s in a bad place, yes.”, she mumbled.
“hye hee, do you love him?”, he asked, looking into her eyes.
“I do. I can't think of anyone but him. But isn't this weird? Its only been a day after my break up and I go jump into his arms? Isn't that an insult to Jaebeom?”
“You have answered your question yourself. What you feel for Jaebeom is more of the attachment. He was someone very important in your life after a long time Hye hee. It is only natural for you to want to be in his life too. But you have to make the decision here, you do care about? Who can't you live without?”
Hye hee quieted down at his words, pondering over what he said.
“Like for example, you clearly cannot live with me and this cafe.”, he giggled.
“Oh, shut up, you.”
“Alright, I’m going to leave you here with this coffee and time to think, while I clean up this place. I have a date coming over later this evening.”, he smiled.
"Whoa, there! What was that?", She quickly asked for clarification.
"Date what? Hello? Who's going to fill me in on what's happening?", She laughed.
"Look at you all giddy already. Her name is Lim ji yeong, and she's a professor at SNU. We met at a party and… she's interesting. We've met a couple of times and today she's coming over to the cafe to look at… how it functions…"
"You. She's coming to see you.. and it's a weekend. A university professor who takes time out of her precious free days to see you. Minseok, this is serious!"She laughed.
"Oh.. i don't know..”, he said, unable to keep a straight face.
“Well I do. This is great!”
“I would love for you to meet her sometime. She is going to come over just before noon if you're still here.”
Hye hee was happy for Minseok. It had been a while since she had seen him this excited over somebody. Most of his blind dates were always too clingy or too boring for him.
“I would love to meet her.”, she said grinning at Minseok’s embarrassed face.
He nodded in agreement before gaily taking huge steps across the cafe floor. Checking her watch Hye hee began to introspect, as it seems, taking decisions does not honor a time constraint. Time scrolled by as she tried to sort the muddled webs in her brain, and each time she picked a thread, it was indeed that which belonged to him.
Baekhyun. He was indomitably a part of her she would not and could not give up. It felt like a piece of her heart was being traded for, suppressed, and rotting almost. The thought was horrifying. At times one did not really need to answer all the questions; it was the only one that mattered. The one unforgettable.
Jaebeom was on time. A quality she had grown to adore. Unlike his sister who always had to called upon two hours in advance and made plans. Not her fault, she always quite seemed to have something up her sleeve which could not be passed on.
He had dressed casually, like he always did. He didn't really have dressier clothes, except maybe a few pairs of suits(again all black). Smiling brightly, Jaebeom found her easily. He walked quickly, almost swooping in for a kiss, which she ducked ever so lightly. Jaebeom read her quite well after that.
Something had changed. Her body language seemed distanced.
She wasn't his, anymore.
“Hi.”, she meekily said as she met his eyes. Guilt filled. She was too easy to read indeed.
Taking a long breath, he looked around before uttering, “so? Where are you staying?”
“At.. Baekhyun’s. Just briefly. I’m hunting for an apartment mean while.”, she gulped.
He only smirked at that, throwing his head back, chuckling at the thought.
Hye hee only watched him and from the corner of her eye she found Minseok glancing her way every now and then between serves.
“SO.. one fight and you go running back to your beloved?”, he carelessly muttered, all the while looking out the window.
“I just didn't know where to go. Jane is your sister, and I…”
“Do I seem like a plaything to you?”, he cut her off before she could continue.
“So what? You begged him to take you back? Your celebrity boyfriend?”
“Ofcourse not. We did date but he is also my friend.”
“Right. So you got what you needed and now you're making your way back to that bastard.”
“You used me. Didn't you? Got his attention, and now when he is available again, you have conned me into believing that it was MY idea to break up with you.”,his voice rose slightly, making the people in the cafe give a glance at them. Minseok seemed tense at this event, fiddling with his phone, wondering whom to call incase she was in danger.
“I did not. I did like you. You were indeed my first boyfriend after him and I…” she broke into tears, trying very hard to not sob in a room full of strangers.
“Oh shut up! I very well am aware of how you women con men to get through ends.” he hissed.
This was a side she was very unaware of. Jane had told her about her brother’s temper long when they hadn't been best friends. He had gotten better at controlling it after his last break up with his long term girlfriend.
Or maybe not at all.
“You, are not getting away from this. Think you can just throw me a dumpster and run off with that rich boy, huh? I will ensure that is the last thing you ever do.”
He got up violently and held her wrist tight to drag her out of her chair. The room filled with Hye hee’s screams and the people in the cafe moved away in fear.
Minseok, who had been filling orders, shocked at the shrill voice, snapped in their direction, shattering a glass as he quickly ran towards them.
“Sir! You cannot just behave this way here…”, he intruded between them.
Jaebeom was not in the mood to be schooled then.
“SIR! I will have to ask you leave the cafe immediately and are banned from the premises.”, Minseok was using all his power to separate them, his hands around Jaebeom’s collar.
Jaebeom was so overcome with rage, that he did not even glance at him, his eyes shooting arrows at Hye hee.
Minseok finally overpowered him enough to throw him out of the room. Hye hee stood horrified. Minseok returned, and sat her down, holding her hand up to examine the bruise on her wrist. She couldn't hear him. All sounds seemed to be muffled to her ears. He left her side briefly to bring her a glass of water and had her take in a few sips.
Everything happened so fast. Only a few moments ago she was pondering how she would let him go and now this. An ache brought her attention back to reality and she looked down at her arm. A tear dropped on the red bruise marks and she could not stop herself from breaking down.
Minseok took her to his room inside, his first aid box out. He iced the wound before applying an ointment. Both did not utter a word, while Hye hee softly sobbed all along. Minseok looked at her, his eyes filled with pain, his palm carressing her cheek softly, as he spoke, “Rest here. He’ll be here soon.”, leaving to attend his customers who were at the door, curious and wondering if she was alright.
Hye hee glanced at her wrist once again and the tears wouldn't stop. She wondered if the tears responded to the physical pain or that of the heart. The back door swung open and she felt a familiar scent and arms envelop her.
He was here.
“Hye hee, are you alright?”, his voice shook with worry.
Finding her bright bruised wrist, his jaw clenched in anger. He caressed her arm, sitting beside her on the very chair he had sat on when he had met her again after so many years.
“He did this to you?”, he grunted.
“He didn't like that I was staying with you.”
“Where does this asshole live, I’ll show him…”, he shook with anger, eyes filled with vengeance.
Hye hee couldn't bring herself to say anything. She only buried herself in his shoulder and cried uncontrollably. It hurt baekhyun to watch her weep the way she did, but all he could do for now was stay close. The two sat in eachother’s embrace for quite some time.
As Jaebeom walked in, he shot hye hee a smile, wondering if he was the one she had been waiting for. She was not looking at him. He busied himself in taking orders, occasionally glancing in their direction. Somehow, it didn't seem as though the two were amicable. Voices rose once a while and minseok began worrying about the trajectory of their discussion. When he first seemed to be mad, he almost picked up the phone to dial for the local police, but thought he could be overreacting.
Thats when it struck him, he scrolled through his contacts to find it: B-Hyehee. The contact glowed on his screen.
He had come here so often looking for hye hee, even after they had met, that one day Minseok made up his mind to just speak to him.
Handing him his ice coffee (with barely any coffee, it was embarrassing to serve him as a barista).
“Are you here looking for her again?”, he whispered.
Baekhyun’s head snapped in his direction as he began glancing around nervously to check if anyone had recognised him.
Minseok rolled his eyes at him. “Really? Did you think you were that well camouflaged? I met you once and didn't catch your face that well, and it is easy for me to spot you amongst many, also no thanks to your absolutely great dressing sense of black overalls.”
“They are sweats. Not overalls.”, Baekhyun defended.
“Whatever the hell they are. She won't be here today. Stopped by yesterday already.”
“How about you tell me when she visits?”
“Why on earth would I do that?”
“Because I miss her.”. A simple sentence. Minseok would not have paid heed to that. But something about the way he said it made him trust.
He had typed in his number in Minseok’s that evening. Baekhyun wondered how easily he had given out his number to a stranger. For a moment, he had returned to being Baekhyun, a young man from Baekhyun, a K-pop sensation.
Minseok quickly dialled him for the first time in his life. A surprised voice met him on the other end.
“Yes? Who is this?”
Minseok hastily introduced himself before informing him of the dangerous rise of events unfolding in front of him. He had barely finished his sentence before the line went dead. Minseok was positive he was hurrying over. A wave of comfort was only washing over him when he heard hye hee scream in terror and pain.