Other than sorry, I don't know what else to say. I know I am the most horrible updater in existence…
Thank you to everyone who reviewed. I really appreciate it:) And to Guest (leave a name next time!), yes, I will be finishing this fic no matter how long it takes me (hopefully not that long), so don't freak out :P
"Yah, you're so lucky! Song Woo Bin… Do you know many girls would die for that chance?"
Ga Eul's grin practically split her face in half as she shouted over the noise in the bar to her cousin, Ahra. "I know!" The music was too piercing, the neon lights too blinding, and the bar design too gaudy, but Ga Eul didn't mind. She had a rare night out with her cousin, and that put her in high spirits.
They had been going out for a little over a month now, and the mere mention of him caused her grin to stretch across her face and the corners of her eyes to crinkle. So maybe, Woo Bin had worked his charm after all.
As for Yi Jeong, she had seen him around the first few times Woo Bin brought her to the F4 lounge, and he was always there; playing card poker with Ji Hoo, jamming away at game consoles, or simply listening to music. They had acknowledged each other with stiff nods but as the time passed, he stopped appearing in her line of vision. She was rather happy to keep it that way. After all, she believed that Woo Bin was enough to keep her happy.
Snapping back to the present, she watched as the taller female next to her raised the glass to her lips, face scrunched up in mock annoyance. "Aish, you brat, why do you get all the rich guys?" She pressed a hand to her heart dramatically. "And then there's an old maid like me, wilting away, waiting for a Prince Charming who seems like he's non-existent. My sad, sad life!"
Ga Eul pushed playfully at her cousin. "Don't be like that, unnie. You're only a year older than me!"
Ahra set her drink on the counter and looked at her seriously. "A lot can happen in a year, you know?" She counted off her fingers, "There could be more wrinkles around my eyes, or more freckles on my nose. Or you could have hooked a rich man's son, and I could have lost my job."
"Unnie!" Ga Eul shrieked, ignoring the jibe about Woo Bin and the stares she was attracting. "What did you do this time?!"
The said female inspected her nails uncaringly. "The manager threatened to put me in the pantry if I wouldn't stop using my phone in the office and causing disturbance to the rest of my coworkers." She paused, making an indistinct noise in the back of her throat that sounded like a snigger. "I called him a half-assed git and he happily fired me."
Horrified, she closed her eyes. "Unnie, please, try to stay in a job, okay? I know you're a good worker…" Her voice faltered a little at that, but she took a deep breath and continued bravely. "So just do your work properly, be nice to your colleagues and superiors, and you'll be one of the best employees around and you can keep your job! Isn't that great?"
Ahra smiled brightly, reaching over to pinch Ga Eul's cheeks. "Aigoo, my baby cousin worried about me! Don't be, it's not like I can't get another job —"
Loud squeals cut jarringly into their conversation, forcing the pair's attention to the center of the dance floor where a group of flamboyantly dressed ladies, complete with sequins and ribbons, were forming a tight knot around something or someone.
She jumped slightly, feeling Ahra latch onto her arm. "Omo!" Ahra's eyes went wide. "Isn't that So Yi Jeong?"
Craning her neck to catch a glimpse of said person, she idly wondered how her cousin had came to know about Yi Jeong. The renowned potter had somehow managed to drag one of those swiveling bar chairs to the dance floor, and was currently standing on it.
He had a finger hooked through the open knot of his black tie, which hung loosely around his unbuttoned collar. As Ahra and Ga Eul watched on in fascinated horror, Yi Jeong started to swing his coat above his head, spinning around on the chair to soft screams of adoration from the ladies.
"Wow…" Ahra blinked, a slow grin spreading over her face. "This is unbelievable…" Fishing a phone from her pocket, she trained it on the drunken potter.
"What are you doing recording him?!"
"Blackmail him when he's sober." Her cousin made it sound like the most obvious thing in the world.
Ahra patted Ga Eul on her head with her free hand. "Can't you appreciate my jokes? Of course it's for my personal entertainment."
Ga Eul looked at Yi Jeong, who had somehow climbed down from his precarious spot and was now sitting on the chair with his coat slung over his shoulder. He looked a mix of comical and sexy (Ga Eul hit herself mentally for thinking the second one), as his legs dangled childishly a distance from the floor. However, his mussed up hair and lazy smile indicated something very different indeed.
Glancing at her cousin one last time, Ga Eul made a split second decision. "Unnie, I'm going to get So Yi Jeong, okay?"
Ahra looked up from the video she was recording, dismayed. "But you don't even know him!"
Squeezing past the mass of people to get to the dance floor, she shouted back at her cousin. "Woo Bin knows him!" Then she was through, the excited bodies pressing in on her from behind. "So Yi Jeong!" escaped from her mouth and when he finally did hear her over the general noise in the club, he frowned. Actually frowned, with brows deepening a little in the middle of his forehead.
Ga Eul was taken aback. In all the time she had known Yi Jeong, he smirked, glared, and basically did everything someone could possibly do to express displeasure and contempt without involving the obvious use of facial muscles. She came to the conclusion that it must have something to do with being drunk. Alcohol took away your inhibitors.
Now that she was rather closer to him, and his wine-flushed face came into view, she saw that his cheeks were significantly more sallow, and black circles were lined under his eyes. His midnight black hair, which had a usual sheen to it, seemed lackluster that night. Coupled with his less-than-immaculate outfit, Ga Eul wondered what happened to the grooming etiquette he prided himself on.
Doing her best to ignore the stares around her, she walked over to Yi Jeong and tugged lightly on his sleeve. "Um, we should go now…" before you embarrass yourself further. She didn't even know why she was bothering with him, but she figured he would thank her later. Because what if you start removing your shirt? It hadn't come to that, but Ga Eul was sure it would eventually and he could just wilt from the mortification when he was sober.
He narrowed her eyes at her words. Apparently a girl standing nearest to him took that as her cue to start questioning Ga Eul. "Who are you?"
"Er…" He was my previous love interest and I'm one of the many he rejected but now I'm dating his best friend. No, not really. She trailed off, casting her gaze around for an idea. Ahra… her cousin was looking on with mild interest. "I'm his cousin!"
"Cousin?" The girl tilted her head to the side skeptically.
"Yeah… Distant cousin… He's really drunk," Distant, indeed. She gestured with a wave of her hand, continuing. "So I'll just take him back now. Thank you!" With that, she pulled Yi Jeong out of his chair and escaped.
Yi Jeong leaned on Ga Eul. It was an awkward position, to say the least. Her arm was circled around his waist, and his arm draped over her shoulders. Somewhere along the walk, he had managed to get his coat on. Occasionally, he would turn his head towards her and breathe into her neck.
He was doing that again, the hot air tickling the nape of her neck.
Ga Eul was tempted to slap his head the other way. "Stop doing that, your breath reeks."
"You're like a child when you're drunk. Why am I even helping you home, oh God."
"I…" Turning towards her, he opened his mouth and hiccupped slightly. A whiff of something stale drifted across the distance between them and she pushed him away in alarm.
The next moment had him clutching the streetlamp for support as he vomited into a nearby ditch. She groaned, looking at the contents in concealed disgust. This was the reason why the both of them had not made the wise decision of taking a cab home. She comforted herself with the thought that his pottery place was just a fifteen-minute walk from the bar. And they had covered five minutes of the journey already. Although Yi Jeong stopping every corner to puke was admittedly adding to the time it took for him to get home.
It took another twenty minutes for the pair to arrive at the pottery place. Apparently Ga Eul was severely misinformed about the distance by a certain drunk. The walk was punctuated with alternating episodes of retching and insistent statements from Yi Jeong that he was not drunk.
At the door, he fumbled for half a minute with his keys, poking at the lock. She watched in slight amusement as the key met the right side of the lock, then the left and then the top. Out of sheer vexation, he kicked the door and the precious bit of metal slipped from his hands onto the ground. Rolling her eyes, Ga Eul retrieved the key and slotted it neatly into the keyhole, turning with a satisfying click.
Once in the house, she guided Yi Jeong over to a room and sat him down on a bed, where he promptly flopped onto his back, breathing deeply. The deep flush on his cheeks, which had obviously arisen due to the alcohol, meant that a cup of hot beverage was in order. Slipping out of the room, she shut the door quietly, careful not to disturb the gently dozing form.
Like always, Ga Eul was drawn to the work area, where the famous potter tinkered with various pieces of art. Incomplete works littered the place; a half-formed vase, an unpolished ornament. She wondered briefly where his completed pieces were, as frequent visits in the past often opened her eyes to beautiful pottery displayed proudly on open shelves. Now the shelves were bare, the neglected corners perfect for spider webs.
As she moved towards the door to leave, an unassuming object held her back. The thing in question was a ceramic mug, left on a bench with other forgotten scraps of clay. Feeling the cold and dusty surface beneath her hands, she remembered.
They had made it together, the first time Yi Jeong invited her to his workshop. It was before the pretend dates, before Eun Jae, before Woo Bin, before everything happened. That time in the past, it wasn't the Casanova and his rumoured girlfriend. It was just Yi Jeong and Ga Eul, two pottery enthusiasts.
Her fingers touched a groove on the smooth exterior of the mug. Being a beginner, her inexperience had caused her to exert too much force while shaping. She recalled how she had begged him to fix it for her, but he had simply laughed, saying, "No, it doesn't matter. This way, you'll remember not to make the same mistake again, won't you?" And it had stayed that way. A flaw in the otherwise perfect mug.
The second time she went, it was to fire up the mug in the kiln with the other greenware.
Adding the finishing touches, he had explained. "When the clay is completely dry, the pottery piece is called greenware. We'll load it into the kiln and fire it. This is called bisque firing."
"So what's it called after firing?"
"Bisque ware." He had replied with a laugh.
After loading the greenware into the kiln, he turned to her with serious eyes. "The next time you come, we'll glaze the mug and paint it. Then we'll do a second firing in the kiln. This melts the glaze to form a glass coating on the surface of the clay piece. It seals the porous surface, making the piece stronger and more beautiful."
"Yes, Yi Jeong-shii." He had seemed so much like a professor, and she the eager student who wanted to learn everything about pottery all at once. But then reality invaded, and Ga Eul never went back there again. The mug, which one shone with promises of glaze and colour, now remained a dull shade of brown, thinly layered with grey.
Replacing the mg and wiping her hands on her pants, she backed out of the room. I should get him the warm drink soon.
She pushed on the door, entering as it swung open soundlessly. Yi Jeong was still resting on his side, facing away from her as she approached his bedside table. She tapped his shoulder lightly, holding the mug up to him as he roused from his drunken stupor. Pressing his parched lips to the rim, he swallowed, and she watched as his Adam's apple bobbed up and down.
Yi Jeong mumbled his thanks before falling back again, dead to the world. Why am I doing so much? She set the cup on the flat surface. To be honest, she didn't really know why, but for now, she was content to just watch him sleep. There was something remotely peaceful and comforting about the rise and fall of his body as he breathed in and out evenly.
Abruptly, his eyelids jittered in his sleep and he twisted around on the bed, hand still pulling at the tie, which had wound itself around his neck. Ga Eul frowned. He would strangle himself in his sleep. Death by tie. Not a nice way to go. So against her better judgement, she reached forward to untangle the piece of black fabric.
She wasn't sure how it happened, but suddenly she was flipped onto the bed, a clammy hand curling around her right arm. The tie had slipped from her grip and it still hung around his collar, the ends tickling her neck. Yi Jeong's eyes were snapped open, his black pits hovering over her chocolate orbs. The corner of his lips lifted up a little, and she could see a faint smirk forming.
"Yi Jeong!" She yelped; trying to absorb the fact that said person was drunk and positioned above her in a very suggestive manner. "You… What are you doing?" He tilted his head slightly, as if puzzled by her words, but the assumed confusion did not stop him from nearing. He drew closer, his hand pressed down on her right arm.
"Stop." She had meant the word to be a firm command, to stop him from advancing, but somehow it came out all wrong, a weak tremor of her vocal chords. A thought flashed past her otherwise blank mind. This is sexual harassment. And then, Yi Jeong, you're breathing in all my oxygen.
He was so close now, so close she could see the faint acne scars dotting the edge of his jaw, the slight curl of his bangs, and that soft, thin pair of lips just inches from hers…
Oh. Well. Here you have it, finally completed. I know what you're going to say, 4 months for this miserable excuse of a chapter? I am, once again, sincerely sorry, and I thank you all for your patience. (But maybe you guys just forgot about this fic…)
I think I like Ahra very much here^^ I know her personality isn't very fleshed-out here, but I'll build it up as this progresses. Would you want her to appear in the future chapters? Because I am have plans to arrange that~ Her presence will alter the ending of this story significantly.
Anyways, just want to thank you all again, especially my wonderful Spanish translater, Zurita Saotome, for telling me that this chapter was worth the wait. I hope it is, to all of you.