His insecurity is getting higher after he saw Eungi bidding her goodbye to the Dutch guy in an intimate way, she’s kissing his check three times before she gets out of the café and the prejudice formed in his head are just getting worst. She enchanted him moments ago by saying she’d fight for his right and his acknowledgement about the journal and minutes later she slammed him to his own hell by being super friendly and touchy towards the Dutch guy.
Eungi said she needs to meet Professor Van Wijk and reports the interview to him so Kyuhyun quietly follows her again from behind. The autumn/winter wind blows even worst during the night, Eungi looks like she’s struggling to walk straight and all he wants to do is standing by her side as her anchor to the ground. He then remembers that she’s avoiding any kind of personal matters with him and that slims his chance to ever tell her about whatever happened a year ago, all the misfortune and misunderstanding that’s going on between them.
Fifteen minutes later Kyuhyun find himself following her to a party in one of the big houses next to the main street. It’s usual for Dutch people to spend their Thursday night longer compare to any other nights, Thursday are the time when the store opens up until ten and usually also the time they choose to have a party or celebration. He knows that he’s not invited so he waits for her in a bus stop nearby in order to be able to spots her once she’s out. Sometimes he thinks it’s creepy what he does for her, following her like a real stalker, renting a place right across her sublet house just so he can enjoys watching her from the big window in her home, even sometimes interrupts with her surrounding when she begins to lose control.
Kyuhyun never remembered her as a drunkard but seems like she spent most of her time chugging down alcohol from time to time she’s here. He doesn’t mind as long as she’s being responsible for herself, but his patience was tested when he followed Eungi to Amsterdam a month ago. She had enough alcohol to get her drunk but she still managed to smoke a whole marijuana and begins to completely lost her mind. He was just watching from afar at first, but he had enough when one of her friend begun to laid his hand on her lap.
That night he ignored his secretive way to hide himself from her and took her away from the coffee shop immediately. It’s unusual for the locals to carry their drunk friend on their back so when Kyuhyun gave a piggy back ride to Eungi, people stared at them with question in their eyes but he didn’t care. He liked the way her arms wrapped around him and he liked the warmth of her body that glued to his back. Kyuhyun smiled a lot that night because Eungi continuously whisper in his ear, she kept on asking who he is, why he looks so similar to the man that she missed, she told him that he was as warm as that man and that he smells as lovely as him, then she kissed his cheek before she completely passed out that night.
The two hours’ train ride from Amsterdam to Delft were the moment when Kyuhyun wanted to stop the time. He had her in his arm, in his embrace as she’s laid her head on his shoulder peacefully. He would give everything he owns in the world to hold her that way again every day for the rest of their life, but sadly the ride was over too soon for him and he sent her back safely into her sublet house after he dig into her purse to find the house key.
That night Eungi seemed to be too relax to the point she allowed Kyuhyun to enter her house, let him put her onto her bed and even lingered a little bit to him. She insisted that he should stay with her that night and embrace her the way her man should, she was babbling whatever she wanted and what Kyuhyun could think about was only: if it weren’t him that took her home, somebody else might take advantage of her helpless stage—and he stayed even closer to observe her ever since.
His daydream interrupted with the sudden cold autumn mild rain, he’s been living in this country for more than four months to know it’s random weather pattern but tonight he didn’t prepare anything to cover up more since he prepared himself to look good in front of her in a hurry this afternoon. Kyuhyun loosen his outer coat and pull it up to cover his head from the rain while trying his best to hide under the tree next to the bus stop. Moments later he spots her figure walking out of the front door of the house, she’s not alone, Professor Van Wijk is with her and he seems to use ‘talking to her’ as excuse to lite up a cigarette outside of the house on the patio.
He tries to eavesdrop on their conversation but the drop of rain and the strong wind doesn’t help with his effort, in the end he just observes them talking like a mime show from afar.
“So I can proceed this to the court, right Sir?” Eungi presses her tone to her Professor.
“Cha, I already agreed to take him under my wing why would you bring this further?” The old man takes out his cigarette and Eungi automatically cups her hands near the cigarette stick to keep the wind away from his zippo.
“Because I want to bring Mr. Hwang down. It’s not fair for the student sir, you might think that it’s just a mere early research but it’s his work! Nobody should steal it away from him without his consent.”
“And how are you going to do that anyway? You need proof and testimonies; you’ll be needing an attorney also. The paper is already published so you might also deal with the journal’s legal system for doubting their reviewers.” He takes a long drag of his cigs.
“I don’t know but I really need to bring that man down. I promised your student that I would help him, Sir. Please at least tell me that it’s do-able.”
Professor Van Wijk chuckles and lowers himself to level Eungi’s face, “I wonder why are you fighting so hard for this particular student. You convinced me to trust you two days ago, stood up for this guy telling me that he’s more than what meets the eye. Tonight you try to lure me into helping you with legal matters over his previous research, what’s going on with you Cha?”
Eungi takes a deep breath and avoid his gaze, “I don’t like seeing my student being treated unfairly because of something he didn’t do.”
“I won’t like it either but sometimes you have to let them do their own battle.” He clears his throat and taking another drag.
“But it’s not fair for him Sir, he’s been treated wrongly in his whole academic career, it took him ten years to graduate from his bachelor studies and it has nothing to do with him being stupid.”
“I know, I saw a lot of potential in him also, the way I saw your potential back then. But I don’t have that much power to help you I’m afraid. You’ll be dealing with a very complicated legal system and you will have to deal with a lot of paper works, and when I say a lot, it’s A LOT!” He cringes to the thought of the legal steps that need to be taken to proceed with her plan.
“Aish, you could at least encourage me.” Eungi starts to mumble in Korean.
“Don’t use your language with me, I might think you’re cursing at me.”
“I am.” Eungi’s starting to lose her patience and she does the odd thing she rarely does, “Give me one of those.” She points to his pack of cigarette and doesn’t wait for his permission to take one from the box. “Come on, lit me up.” She demands her professor to help her light up her cigarette the way she helped him earlier.
“Nah, this is not you Cha. You hate smokers why trying to be one.”
“JUST LIT ME UP FOR GOD’S SAKE!” She snaps to the old man and the professor does what she asked.
Eungi automatically coughing from the sudden smoke that interrupts her breathing pipe but she’s determined to take a long drag, so she ignores the pain and takes a second deep breath. Her eyes begin to water from the pain in her throat and she still insists that she’s fine.
Professor Van Wijk observes his former student closely, a lot has changed from Eungi that he remembers back then. She used to be so calm and cold headed whenever faced with problems, she wouldn’t try to find a shortcut to her hardships and definitely not a big drinker the way she is these days. Now with Eungi trying so hard to finish the cigarette he just lit up for her, Professor Van Wijk was sure that something big must be bothering her and it has nothing to do with the research she’s been talking about all day.
“Does it make you feel any better after you fool yourself like that, Cha?” He’s no longer positioned himself as her professor but more to be a father figure she always thought of him. “What’s going on with you, hm? Why so angry?”
“I don’t know, I’m just so fed up with everything.” She looks down on her feet and slowly begin to lower her body into a squatting position. “I’m tired Sir, it’s too much for me and I feel like I might explode anytime soon. This matter is a perfect way for me to channel my anger into something useful and I could avenge my own sentiment towards Mr. Hwang.”
He follows her to squat down and slowly takes the cigarette away from her fingers then he put it down for her. “I knew it, you’re still affected by that tragedy aren’t you? I still feel the heartache in my heart every time I remember about that man, you looked perfect with him and you were so in love.”
“I moved on, Sir, I really did. I mean I still honor him for what he did but I didn’t let the tragedy affect me anymore—I moved on from my grief somehow.” She falls completely on her bottom to sit on the cold steps in his patio. “And I created more problem when I moved on.”
Professor Van Wijk takes another long drag, “I have time for you if you want to share, let’s forget about those papers for a while and let us catch up on life matters.”
“I slept with him.” She whispers the word clearly. “Cho Kyuhyun and I, we had a history. He wasn’t just a student for me.” Her tears start to well up in her eyes.
Professor Van Wijk lifts his eyebrow in surprise but immediately shrugs his shoulder before he follows to sit next to her. “And you’re mad because? It’s not a crime to have an affair with your ex-student I guess.” He chuckles, “I mean yeah it’s wrong technically but if that makes you happy, whatever floats your boat Cha.”
“He left me.” For the first time Eungi finally declared his act of abandonment to someone else. “I fell for him not long after the tragedy, I let my guard down and I fell in love with him—hard—and in my weakest moment, he left me.”
Eungi begins to sob silently in front of her professor, it takes her a long time to fool herself from admitting this to herself. She avoids the term ‘being left behind’ so highly because she doesn’t want to sound more pathetic than she already is. Because to her, being left behind means that she’s the problem in the relationship and that makes her the more vulnerable one.
“Will it make me sound like a gossip if I ask why he left you?”
Eungi shakes her head, “I guess I was giving him a hard time during the moment I tried to move on from Siwon, he was never the faithful man to anyone before so when he stayed by my side I was easily swayed by his presence, but I guess he reached his limit when he left.”
“Did he say that to your face? That he’s tired of your shit before he left?”
Eungi shakes her head and continues sobbing.
Professor Van Wijk clears his throat and taps her on her shoulder, “Do you know what that Cho guy told me when I ask why he wanted to be guided under me? He said he wanted to be assisted by the best so he could present himself proudly to the person he adores so much. He said I used to couch that person he looks up to and he wants to follow her steps into success with my guidance.” He chuckles as he reaches into his back pocket to get a handkerchief and gives it to her.
Eungi takes the handkerchief and dabs it on her face.
“I believe that special person was you because earlier today when I announce those students about having an interview with you, his face was lit up and he quickly excuses himself from my class—something to do about grooming up a little bit before he met you.” He chuckles again, “Cha, you’re old enough to be able to be honest to yourself. If you want him by your side then go ahead tell him, what are you afraid of?”
“And how long will your pride help to mend your broken heart?” He takes another cigarette from the box and signals Eungi to covers the air around the stem. “I thought losing your fiancé so early had taught you that lesson Cha. You can’t beat time no matter how hard you try so you can only appreciate what it brings to you while you’re still alive.”
“I’m afraid.” She finally admits, “I want to run to him and wrap my hands around him, I miss him like crazy that I begin to hallucinate of his presence. But it could happen again, right? He could leave me again one day.”
“Does it matter? If you love him you shouldn’t care about that. Just like doing a project research—give your best to the end and if it turns out bad, you take your disappointment and learn from it.” He surprised her with his blunt answer, “If he leaves you again then that’s his lost. You’re an amazing woman and you deserved to be treated better. I know you must have that girly pride over his abandonment, but at the same time you have to forgive people Cha. People made mistakes and those who are forgiving are the ones that lives peacefully.”
“So you’re saying I should just forgive him and start new? After he ruined my life like that?”
“Ruined your life?” Professor Van Wijk raises his eyebrow and giggles, “You’re the one that’s ruining your own life, he’s just your reason to do it all.”
“Why are you defending him?” She pouts her mouth and shows her childish side to the old man beside her.
“I’m not, I’m neutral here.” He shakes his head, “I’m saying you should at least know his reason, only then you can decide what’s best for both of you.” He stares her down with his green eyes, “You’re an academia and all your purpose in life is to find reasons behind everything that happens around you. If you can dedicate your time to find an answer to his plagiarized paper, why can’t you dedicate your time to find out why he left you in the first place?”
“Because it might hurt me more once I find out.”
“But it’ll set you free from your curiosity, don’t you think?” He chuckles again, “That feeling we get once we conclude our thesis, that’s the best feeling in the world, isn’t it?”
Eungi nods, “I might not be able to handle his reasons, Sir. What if he left me because he couldn’t live with the thought of being with me?”
“He might have few reasons but I’m sure that’s not it, you’re the sweetest and purest person I know in the world, Cha. That’s one of the reason I look at you more like a daughter I never had instead of being my apprentice. Any man would be lucky to have you and If I’m allowed to give you my suggestion, I’ll suggest you to talk to him. Only then you can conclude whatever you want to believe.”
Eungi pouts her mouth and sheds some more tears, “If he breaks my heart again, I’ll camp in your house and will ask for a full five-star service from your wife to counter my breakdown.”
“Sure, I’m inviting you over for Christmas anyway.” He slowly gets up from his seat and give his hand to help her to stand up, “But if you made up with him, you have to tell me because I have to fire you from being my assistant. I can’t let any affair happen between my assistant and my student, people will talk badly about you two and I don’t want that to happen.”
Eungi chuckles and round her arms around her professor to hug him, “Thanks Sir Joost, thanks for listening.”
“Anytime, schat.” He hugs her firmly, “Don’t just come to me for academic matters okay? I miss your presence in my life also. My sons are growing up and they don’t visit me much anymore.”
Eungi let go of her hug and chuckles, “And suddenly I’m their replacement? Aww.. you’re a pathetic old man, aren’t you?”
“You’ll know what I feel once you reach the age of sixty.” He ignores her sarcasm and put down his cigarette. “Let’s go inside, two cigarettes are enough to make my wife angry.”
He’s drenching in the rain while carefully watch for Eungi from afar. Kyuhyun aren’t really sure how close she really is to Professor Wijk but judging from the way they communicate, he’s sure they’re closer than just a former student and his professor.
He can’t help from feeling upset when he saw Eungi tried to smoke in front of him, it’s not the old her that he knew and she’s changing so much—for the worse. While he’s trying his best to be a better man, Cha Eungi is doing all sort of ruckus only a troubled teenagers did when they try to proof themselves. He was so angry with her attitude but then his heart sinks again when he witnesses her being so vulnerable as she breaks down into tears, she’s trying so hard to put it all together in front of him but crumbles quickly when he’s not around. He silently feels grateful for the presence of the old man next to her, at least she has someone to talk to counter her loneliness now, at least Cha Eungi wasn’t as alone as she was a year ago and he’s relieve that Eungi adapts herself very well in this city—unlike him.
Kyuhyun is still struggling with the language barrier these days, it’s easy to follow the class since it’s taught in English but it was a real challenge for him to make friends with his Dutch colleagues since they have their own language—something Kyuhyun sure Eungi never had a hardship about. He still has to go back and forth to Seoul to attend some important meetings regarding his dad’s campus although the board of directors are now being more respectful towards him after he proofed himself by pursuing a master degree. He’s still trying his best to get close to the woman that he loves and still doing silly stuffs in order to keep her around without her noticing his effort. Cho Kyuhyun is juggling a lot of things in his hands right now without even knowing if he could succeed in any of his battles, he’s just trying to do his best to keep everyone around him happy—everyone but himself.
He got home an hour later after he made sure Eungi arrived safely in her home. Kyuhyun takes off all of his wet clothes then grab a towel to dry himself and takes his time to reminisce his short moments with her earlier this day. He smiles with the thought of meeting her again tomorrow for discussing the legal steps they’ll take to bring professor Hwang down, he’ll take whatever reason to be next to her these days and he ignores the cold he feels tonight to begin collecting all the evidence he could provide Eungi to start their plan—just for the sake of seeing her and talking to her the next day.