Chapter 15 - Please Take Care Of Do Ook
Sun Ha would always properly apply any lipstick she bought herself. It was a color that she liked, and more than anything, she wanted to improve her plain appearance for the newly enrolled students, should she see them again.
‘He seemed disinterested in my very existence, not just my lips.’
She remembered his cold, emotionless eyes, cringing hard at all the lewd fantasies she’d been having of him until now. It felt like she’d turned back to being a 10-year-old girl again.
As she meandered towards the elevator, Sun Ha realized too late that her hands were completely empty. The umbrella that she had been carrying since morning was gone.
“Ah, that’s right.” She recalled she had left the umbrella leaning on the professor’s table when she was handing her assignment in. She turned and walked back the way she had come, feeling her heart start to race again because of her unexpected excuse to return.
Opening the door and going inside, her gaze turned towards Professor An’s door. It was slightly ajar like before, and she could see the man she’d fallen for go to sit down in front of Professor An’s desk. As he did, Sun Ha unconsciously moved closer to him.
“So you really don’t know each other?” Hearing Professor An’s voice, Sun Ha flinched. They were talking about her.
“Yes,” the man replied.
“She’s Sun Ha, my pupil… a very pitiful girl.”
There was no reply, only silence.
Professor An continued, “She lost her parents at a young age, so she grew up alone. She’s struggling quite a lot even now. Yet, she hasn’t gone down a dark path and ended up graduating high school, which is amazing in itself. She’s still doing her best by using all her free time to do part-time work while she’s studying as much as she can. It makes my heart sting with pity and admiration for her hard work, and I want to support her as much as possible.”
Sun Ha’s eyes shook heavily within their sockets. Her hands, balled into fists, shivered as well. She squeezed her eyes shut.
She knew that Professor An didn’t have any hint of malice towards her in his words at all. He was someone that pitied her situation. He was genuinely worried about her and was a great man who always tried to help her as much as he could.
She knew she was too hungry for genuine sympathy to be able to take his pitying words as something negative. It was far too common for people to look at her with contempt or condemnation rather than gentle kindness. The right thing was for her to be thankful for his sympathy.
However, nothing she told herself could stop her resentment for Professor An at this moment. She could understand that he might briefly talk to his close nephew about a pupil that he cares very much about.
‘But why? Why tell that man out of anyone?’ she thought. ‘Just why should it be revealed to him just how pitiful and miserable my life is?’
She gripped the lipstick so tightly that her hand began to hurt. Sun Ha was miserable that her life was so wretched that she needed sympathy, and she also hated that she had to hear Professor An talk about how objectively pitiful she was.
“So do you have an interest in her as a potential lover?” Do Ook asked.
Hearing his nephew, Professor An jumped from his seat. “What? You little— How dare you say something like that to your uncle!”
“Then why did you bring up someone that I don’t even know?”
“Well… because when I think of Sun Ha, I naturally think about your life as well.”
“Because I don’t have parents?”
At his nephew’s sharp reply, Professor An looked embarrassed and fixed his glasses. “You at least had some family members close to you that took care of you, plus you weren’t troubled financially at any point. Sun Ha has lived a much more difficult life than you.”
The man smirked, but his smile was as cold as ever. “I had a stepmother who wanted me gone at every moment, a father who kicked out his young son just to grant that woman’s wish, a mother whose face I can’t remember since she had emigrated somewhere far away with her new husband after the divorce, but I guess since I had money at home and my grandfather was taking care of me, I had a better life than that woman?”
“Did you call me just to tell me there are kids who have it much worse than me, so I should stop pretending to be scarred from those memories all the time and start being friendlier to others?”
“Do Ook, you know that I didn’t mean it that way.”
“So anyone who lost their parents is pitiful, and she’s even more pitiful than that because of how poor she is? You know you can just keep those thoughts to yourself instead of telling me that as well, right? It’s a heavy thing to talk about for someone who lost their parents.”
Professor An looked very guilty, tightly shutting his mouth for a moment before opening it to say, “It seems that I’ve said something I shouldn’t have. I heard a long time ago that I’m a nosy person, but it seems to be getting worse the older I get. Do Ook, if I offended you, I apologize.”
Hearing his uncle’s apology, Do Ook’s expression eased very slightly “This is why I come to you whenever you call for me without any complaints uncle. I can’t say the same for any others.”
“Because normally someone either gets red in the face and starts swearing at this point or turns their back and walks out of the room. One or the other.”
Realizing his apology had been accepted, Professor An laughed heartily, his mood brightening. His nephew came off as very harsh and was well known as someone who would always bluntly say what was on his mind. His manner of speaking had a habit of making people feel humiliated, and he used it on everyone, regardless of gender or age.
“In any case,” Professor An said, “there is a reason I asked you to come today.”
Sun Ha gazed at Do Ook’s face through the gap on the door. Seemingly having completely forgotten about the misery she had just been feeling, she stared at him with utterly lovestruck eyes.
At that moment, the man looked towards the door. Sun Ha stood, frozen in place as their gazes met. His cold eyes were no different than before, and Sun Ha felt her breath leave her body as a spike of electricity raced down her spine.
She quickly turned her back on him. Forgetting the fact that she had come here to retrieve the umbrella she had left behind, she left the research room as quietly as she could.
Waves of despair ran down her entire body as soon as she stepped out onto the hallway. She had never wanted to eavesdrop on him, but she wouldn’t be able to say that it was a misunderstanding at all.
‘Why do I only show him my embarrassing side?’ The thought kept circling around in her mind. She was sure he thought she was weird.
At first, she could only think negative thoughts, but her footsteps continued getting slower. Eventually, she found herself repeating the words that the man had said over and over instead, and she kept looking back at the door to Professor An’s office.
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