Category: Romance, NC-21, Chaptered
Cast: Cha Eungi, Choi Siwon, Cho Kyuhyun
In early spring after the mid-term, Cha Eungi and the rest of the lecturer are invited for a gala lunch Mr. Cho—the old Mr. Cho—held annually in his big house as his way to get closer to his employee. Usually in this gala event, they will announce the campus achievements and future programs that can be done in order to increase its reputation among other universities in South Korea. One of the successful projects that will be announced today is obviously Eungi’s project.
Eungi just wraps off her green project with Kyuhyun and Nara two days ago and they’re supposed to go to Copenhagen next week to present their ideas. In the past three weeks she’s been lacking sleep in order to perfect her materials and also to do her secret mission—that is to dig up Kyuhyun’s potential that she knows he has, to its maximum level. She likes the fact that he’s become more quiet near Eungi and he seems like one of those kid that follows her instructions and suggestions very well, compare to Hwang Nara that’s too focal with her opinion that sometimes lead to confusion for their group of three.
Before the lunch begins, Mr. Cho gives his speech about the importance of giving our best to the country and one of the ways to do it is by doing the best in education. The gala continues with the actual lunch and a live performance from the campus orchestra group, this is the part she hates the most because as expected, the gala lunch is full of rubbish for her taste.
She hates hanging around the people she barely knows, talking about things that aren’t necessary to discuss, having people try to impress her, receiving a lot of name cards that she knows she’s gonna toss to her stack later on, and the thing she hates the most from this kind of event is clearly to pretend to enjoy everything. She’s stuck in the round table with eight other people that mostly try to talk about their married life and kids. All invitation allows a plus-one to come along, bus since she really has nobody to invite to she came alone and got herself stuck in between four other couples.
She sits quietly during the appetizer and the first course, however after the main course, Eungi decided to separate herself from her table once one of the man starts to talk about politics and government, she just can’t take it anymore and she need some space for herself simply just to breath and calm herself.
Eungi walks out of the main room to the patio right outside, she figures she’ll still be able to pay attention to what’s going on inside without being caved in. She stroll around to look for a perfect spot for her to rest her mind and decided to sit on a park bench not far away from the patio.
“I thought I won’t see you today.” A deep voice breaks her daydream.
Eungi turns her head and force a smile on her face, she knows the owner of that voice. After working continuously with him in the past three weeks, it’s something she has become accustomed to.
“Should be a nice break for me, don’t you think?” She’d prefer to be left alone but she slide to her right anyway to let him sit next to her.
His mouth opens up a little bit once he studies her appearance today. Eungi is wearing flowery peep-shoulder dress that brings out the radiance of her skin, she pulls her hair up into a ponytail showing off her long and lean neckline that makes his imagination runs a little wild and he can’t keep his gaze from her long legs that’s now showing under her flare dress, especially since she wraps her beautiful feet with a pair of nude heels that makes her legs look even longer.
He’s tries his best to hide the adoration in his eyes because he doesn’t want her to notice how different his behavior is whenever he’s near her. In the first day they met Cho Kyuhyun was certain that Cha Eungi was just a young smart ass that happened to be his new professor, only weeks later he really admit that she’s actually really brilliant and he begins to respect her for the way she treats him. Today is the first time Kyuhyun can actually see how beautiful the woman she is.
“Are you running away from something? The gala’s inside.” Kyuhyun rounds the bench and sits next to her left.
“I’m the one who should ask you that question, Kyuhyun-ssi. It’s lectures only event.”
“You’re in my father’s house, noona. And please, I think we’ve passed the formality, just call me by my name.” He hands Eungi a tall and narrow glass contains bubbly liquid inside. “Champagne?”
Eungi shakes her head. “Nah, the sun is still up and it’s one of the events where I need to be sober all the time.”
“Why? You’re a bad drunkard?”
Eungi scoffs, “I’m a functioning alcoholic if I may say. I just don’t want people see me, you know, getting drunk.”
“Ahh.. Still try to maintain the good image.”
Eungi only lifts her eyebrows. “So, aren’t you supposed to be inside?”
Kyuhyun rolls his eyes, “Having those people kissing my ass just to look good in front of my dad, please. I’d rather sit here with you.”
“It’s must be sickening for you, to have those people around you without knowing which one that you can actually trust.” She pouts her mouth realizing the words she said aren’t just address to Kyuhyun alone, it’s how people treat her also.
“I chose not to trust anyone of them.” He takes a sip of the champagne.
Eungi turns her head to him to get a closer look, “Aahh.. Now I begin to understand why you’re so distant..”
“Aish, don’t even try to analyze me. I don’t want to be your next research subject.” He takes his gaze away from her.
“Sorry.” She grins, “Force of habit.”
“By the way, it’s a ‘plus-one’ invite party and I can’t help to notice that you’re alone. Where’s your fiancé?” He asks her nonchalantly.
Honestly, he can’t stop thinking about it since he knew that she’s engaged. If it’s any other girls, he’d probably just let it slide and go for his next target, but he can’t just let the matter go with this one.
She’s a bit taken aback by his question, she knows she stupidly mentioned about Siwon few days ago to him but she never thought he’ll remember that. That night when she talked to him about Siwon was one of the nights when she missed him badly, one of those times when everything around her seems to remind her about him, and one of those moment when she feels like she needs to share a little bit of her pain to release the pressure in her head.
“He.. can’t come.” She looks down to her feet and keeps her gaze down.
Kyuhyun might be ignorant, but he clearly noticed how the shine in her eyes instantly darkens. Cha Eungi avoids eye contact with him and keeps her body language at close, as if she wishes the topic never came out.
The awkwardness between them quickly disturbed by the sudden silence in the air when the orchestra stops playing the music and the MC begins to talk—signing the lunch session has ended and they should continue with the next event.
“We should go inside, they’ll call our name.” Kyuhyun gets up from his seat and offer his hand to help Eungi to rise—which she ignores.
“It’s about time, let’s get it over with so I can go home quicker.” She mumbles beside him as they walk together toward the main room.
“Are you sure about not having a little bit of alcohol? It calms you down.” He pushes his glass to her.
“No, I’ll drink a bunch afterwards.” She smirks and continues her steps.
“Ladies and gentlemen, now I will announce to you some of the amazing achievement our campus receive counting from the last semester.” The MC begins his announcement. “As we know, our student choir is still competing in Austria as we speak and the last news we receive is they’re in the top three, so.. Fingers crossed.” He makes the gesture of linking his fore finger and middle finger together.
Eungi wants to enter the room but the guards can’t let her enter during announcement, so she waits patiently by the door frame with Kyuhyun beside her. Even when they try to explain that their name is about to be called out, the guards still demand them to wait—until further notice.
“The next achievement is our debate team. They won the second prize in the international competition held in London last December.” He claps his hands as a way to encourage the audience to clap along, “And let’s not forget about the achievement our lectures get.”
The room becomes silence again.
“I’m honor to announce that our very own professor that collaborated with two of our student, has been invited to a world summit in Copenhagen to present their original ideas on how to safe our planet. I’m sure you’re all familiar with this person, since this person continuously making big impact not only to our campus reputation but also to our mother earth.”
Eungi and Kyuhyun playfully stare at each other as the MC about to announce their name.
“Let’s give a round of applause to the person who makes it possible, Professor Hwang Ho Jin.”
It takes several seconds for both Eungi and Kyuhyun to realize it’s not her name that’s been called, but their head of departments’.
“WHAT?!” Kyuhyun speaks first, he takes a look a Eungi and the jaw-dropping expression she has clearly tells him that she’s as confused as he is.
Professor Hwang takes the stage and begins his speech.
“Thank you, it’s been an honor for me.” He steps from the podium to bow before he continues his speech. “As you know, global warming has been a concern of mine for a long time and I refuse to give up to our earth condition, as human we ruined mother nature so it’s our job to fix it. This project is originally given to our new professor in the architecture department but turned out the project become too overwhelming for her to handle so I stepped in and got help from two magnificent students, they are Cho Kyuhyun and my own daughter Hwang Nara. Let me show you the progress that we’ve done.” He signals the operator to showcase the presentation onto the big screen.
Eungi can’t hear the rest of his speech because she knows very well of what he’s about to explain to the crowds. It’s her research, it’s her presentation, but it’s not her that’s standing on the podium. In her job plagiarism is something that’s too taboo to talk about—but doesn’t mean it didn’t happen—but this, what professor Hwang did is lower than that. It’s her exact layout, exact font, exact words, exact research she did with the two students and the only different thing is her name was removed from the cover and replaced by the name of Hwang Ho Jin.
She force her way to enter the main room but the security guard still keep her out and they begin threaten her if she still stubbornly force her way in. Kyuhyun is helping her to get inside but he’s just powerless compare to three big men with built body. He was just about to make a scene involving the words ‘do you know who I am’ speech when Eungi grabs his hand and pulls him away from the guards.
“Noona, you need to step inside! You need to take the podium and embarrass him!”
Eungi finds a perfect place that’s out of everyone sight to proceed with her plan—that she just had few moments ago.
“WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING BEHIND MY BACK?!!” She corners him to the side to the wall as she begins to yell.
“DON’T YOU DARE!” She points her finger on his nose. “WHAT IS THIS ABOUT? WHAT’S YOUR PLAN?!”
“What are you talking about?” He’s confused and surprised with how she reacts right now. He always sees her as a serene person and having her throwing tantrum at him at the moment is something he never expected.
“I’M TALKING ABOUT WHAT JUST HAPPENED! HE SAID IT’S HIS RESEARCH WITH THE STUDENTS, HOW COME MY PRESENTATION ENDS UP IN HIS HAND?” Eungi’s pointing to the air with her right hand.
“Noona, I’m as confused as you are.”
“LIAR!” her eyes begin to water up. “IT’S MY RESEARCH! I SPENT YEARS ON THAT THING AND I SPENT MONTHS TO MAKE MY WAY TO THE SUMMIT.”
Kyuhyun lifts both of his hands on his face, trying to tell her to slow down. “I know! I know!”
“WHY IS THAT THING IN HIS HANDS? WHAT DID YOU..”
“CALM DOWN FOR A SEC WILL YOU?!” Kyuhyun turns their position; he’s the one that’s now cornering Eungi to the wall.
Eungi widens her eyes in surprise, turns out the way he yells at her can actually shut her up.
“Cha Eungi Kyosu-nim,” Kyuhyun speaks calmly after Eungi stops scolding him, “Let’s stop yelling at each other, ne? Let’s talk peacefully.”
She’s still glaring at him with an annoyed look but she tries to calm herself down.
“I swear to you I have no idea about how your presentation ended up in his hands. I swear I don’t have any intention to bring you down or anything. I understand how important a research is for your carrier and never in my wildest dream dare I to mess up with that, so once again I swear to you, I know nothing about it.” Kyuhyun is trying his most convincing tone.
“So how could it ended up there?” Eungi covers her face, trying to hide her flustered face from him. To have her research stolen from her is one thing but showing her student her weakness is also another thing she avoids at all time.
He closes his eyes, trying to figure out an answer to at least console the woman in front of him.
“Noona, I swear..”
“I know. I pointed my finger at you without any second thought and I apologize for that.” She lifts her face up to see his, “I trust you.”
“If you said you didn’t do it, then I trust you. It’s weird but somehow I feel like I can trust you. You wouldn’t do mean things to me, I know.”
The look in her eyes has once again crumbled his defense. He never feels so ashamed in front of somebody the way he feels ashamed in front of her. He can’t believe that the only person that ever believes him is the person he once planned to ruin.
Eungi rest her back to the cold wall behind her and tilt her head back looking at the ceiling to breathe in more oxygen. “I have to talk to Professor Hwang, don’t I?”
“If you need an answer, yes.”
“I’ll take a second thought about that champagne.”
Professor Hwang just done shaking bunch of his colleagues hands once he notices Eungi is approaching her steps towards him. He knows what he’s doing and he has confidence in how to proceed with his mean plan.
“Ah! Professor Cha, I didn’t see you when I did the presentation, or were you just outside the room?” He puts on a big fake smile to her.
Eungi plays along with him, since she knows they’re still surrounded by their colleagues. “It was unfortunate, but I heard you made a really interesting speech about my research.” She’s pressing her tone.
“Yes Indeed. The one you handed over to me.” He clears his throat.
“Shall we discuss about that? Because I think we have some misunderstanding.” She throws professor Hwang a sharp look.
“I think the problem is yours alone, professor.”
“Unless you want me to bring this up in front of my attorney with a charge of interfering intellectual property rights, I beg to differ.” She signs him to follow her.
Professor Hwang follows her, Cha Eungi has so far reacted the way he expects her to be. He’s been working in the academic field long enough to understand his wrongdoing at the moment, but he’s also cornered by the campus boards of directors since he can’t produce any research in the last two years. He only have this year to save his big title and if securing the title involve stealing someone else’s work, he’s ready to get his hands dirty—and he has prepared his counter attack on her so she can’t bring him to the court.
“So what shall we discuss, Professor Cha?” He closes the door behind them as they pick a random chamber in the house.
“First of all, How? How did you get your hands on my research?” She walks back and forth in front of him.
“You worked with my daughter.” He lifts his shoulder as if he’s done nothing wrong.
Eungi can hear a ‘click’ in her own head. Yeah of course it’s Hwang Nara, she’s working together with her in the project and she can get all access when Eungi didn’t notice.
“Why?” She tries to sound calm even though she’s dying to throw her fist on his round face.
“I need to have a research.”
“Make your own.”
“I don’t have time.”
“Ask for help instead of steal!” Eungi has lost her patience. “Do you have any idea how much time and effort I spent on building that project?! Do you think it was easy to get my name picked for the summit?”
Professor Hwang swallows his pride and continues to look nonchalant, “The way I see it, I don’t cause you that much loss. I mean you still hold the patent and you’re still internationally known. Even this project is based on you previous research so your name obviously cited all the time.”
Eungi slams the table in the room with all the power she has. “THAT’S NOT THE POINT, PROFESSOR! THE RESEARCH IS IMPORTANT FOR ME..”
She can’t continue her words; she mentally refuses to explain the reason why her research is important to her. It’s not about credibility, it’s not about being known internationally, nor about being respected as an academia. The original idea of this research came from Siwon when she told him about her invention of green panel and he’s been pushing her to continue to make her works known ever since.
To her, this project is the last piece of him that she still gets to carry with her.
“I will bring this matter to the court, prepare yourself to see my attorney.” Eungi decided to go with the law instead of meddling in a bottomless argument.
She was just about to turns the door knob when Professor Hwang takes out his phone and stops her. “I predict you’ll be like this, so I have to play even dirtier.”
Eungi takes a look to the picture in his phone and her heart sinks.
It’s the picture of her and Kyuhyun when they were out after the firework fiasco two months ago. The picture is taken from a perfect angle and it shows as if Kyuhyun is kneeling in front of her while caressing her face.
“I never thought you’re the kind of lecturer that likes to play with your student. Is that why you gave him a spot in this project? So you can get closer to him?” he chuckles cynically.
A lot of thoughts are flying in her mind and she’s confused which one to focus first” to explain the situation, to tell him about why they’re there, or to give him some understanding about her reason to pick Kyuhyun to collaborate.
“You go to the court, I’ll spread this.” He wiggles his phone on her face. “You’re messing with the school rules, you shouldn’t date your student.”
Eungi glares at him with all the hatred she has in her heart.
“Are you going to fire me then?” She holds her head up high since she knows she’s done nothing wrong. “Go ahead. What you did is lower than just a stupid rumor.”
Professor Hwang scoffs, “Fire you? No! Why would I do that with someone as talented as you? Besides, it won’t do you any harm, since I’m sure another university will gladly accept you to join with them within seconds.”
“Do you know how many people are actually holding grudges against this kid?” He laughs to his own thoughts, “He’s skipping class, playing around with girls, disrespecting his lecturers and so on. Every lecture tries so hard to get him kicked out—but as we know, his father holds the mightiest power. But with this picture alone I singlehandedly will be able to kick him out. I can’t even begin to wonder what accusation I’ll give him: seducing his teacher, stalking his teacher, bribing his teacher, aahh I’m too excited with the thoughts alone.”
Eungi is now fighting one of the hardest battles in her mind. She wants to give the old man in front of her a lesson and she really wants to bring him down through the court—she knows she’ll win in one go. But in the other hand, she can’t imagine Kyuhyun going through all those.
She knows he’s acted up to hide the fragile heart he has inside, she’s aware on how talented he is and how he’s never given a chance to prove himself, Kyuhyun never raised up to the occasion simply because nobody believed him. He’s just about to get up from the mess he created and he allows Eungi to help him to improve.
Eungi can’t imagine how he’ll feel if she continues to pursue this matter to the court then the picture and rumor spread out. People around him will look down at him more than they already are and he could get expel from the school no matter how strong his backing is.
She trusts him and believe there’s great potential in him, and he trust her—at least that’s what she knows from the way he lets her guide him to be a better student.
Eungi doesn’t say anything more when she pulls the door open. She walks fast with one thing in her mind and stops in front of the one thing that’s bothering her.
“Cho Kyuhyun,” Eungi looks at him closely in his eyes. “Promise me you’ll be good.”
“Noona, have you talked to him? Are you okay? You look..”
“Promise me, you’ll kick *ss! Just promise me you’ll be a good student and you’ll graduate next year! Promise me!”
“Just promise me!” She almost yells as she begins to feel her eyes getting hot.
“I promise. I won’t let you down.” His look has softened the moment he noticed how flustered she is. “I’ll make you proud, noona. I promise.”
Eungi bites her lips to help her holds her tears.
“Great. Don’t make me regret my decision.”
Her tear falls from her eyes as she says her farewell to the last piece of Siwon that she still has. She’s letting her research to be presented by professor Hwang in return of Kyuhyun scandal be kept secret. She doesn’t know why she’s fighting so much for his sake. Looking at Kyuhyun is like looking at herself a long time ago, when she has no one to believe her and she had to fight her battle alone. She wants to help him to be someone that worth more than just his father’s son, and she believe she can bring the man out of him.