“Teacher, do you like me too?”
I stilled for a moment. My heart skipped a beat. “Really? Like romantically?”
“Wait. You like me not as a disciple but as a man likes a woman?”
Kaichen sighed. “Yes.”
I jumped off the section of the wall I was sitting on. I walked to him and took his hands in mine. I wanted to hold onto something. I felt like this was all a dream and he would vanish if I let go of it.
When I touched his hand, Kaichen stiffened. “Teacher, are you sure? You like me in a way you can be intimate with me? Like, if I wanted to spend the night with you…”
Kaichen scowled and covered my mouth with his hand. “Are you sure you can just casually say something like that?”
I couldn’t finish my words. But he wasn’t rejecting me. I looked at him with tears in my eyes. Kaichen lowered his hand from my mouth. My heart was so full. I hugged him tightly. He froze but his warmth told me that this was reality.
“Please tell me this is not a dream.”
I had thought that this would blow up in my face and I would ruin everything we had. I had thought that his kindness towards me was just because I was his disciple. I tried so hard to convince myself that the occasional affection he showed me meant nothing more. But my intuition was correct. Kaichen felt the same way about me! My anxious heart was filled with relief.
“Teacher, please can you say it just once for me?” I buried my face onto his chest.
I felt him sigh above my head. I was still hugging him tightly, but he didn’t push me away.
“I like you, Dalia,” he said, stroking my hair and wrapping me in his arms.
I knew that those whispered words held great weight, but it took so much heaviness away from my heart. I laughed in joy. His hand stroking my hair was so gentle. His other hand which wrapped around me was warm.
“I am so happy that I am scared. I feel like I am going crazy, and this is not real. I feel like I am going to die.”
“Don’t say that.”
“You’re right. I know you will protect me so nothing like that can happen.”
“You are shameless.”
“Well, that’s my specialty.”
I raised my head and smiled. Kaichen looked at me and returned the smile. There was so much love and affection in those eyes, and it tickled my heart. How was I stupid enough not to figure out that those warm eyes held feelings for me too? Even if I die now, I have no regrets.
To realize that both of us had feelings for each other and we hid it, this must be how happy endings feel like.
* * *
Kaichen looked up at the sky. The night sky, with the twinkling stars and the moon shining bright, looked beautiful. The night sky always looked like that every day but today it felt beautiful. Everything felt peaceful. Usually, Kaichen wasn’t really a sentimental person but today was special.
“I like you, Teacher.”
He had been too stunned to speak when she had said it. Those were the words he had longed to hear. And she had used all sorts of words and metaphors just so he could understand her.
“I want to hold hands with you. I want to kiss you and hug you. I want to be intimate with you as a romantic partner…”
He chuckled. Who in the world confesses like that? It sounded so absurd. But she had said it with so much sincerity.
Dalia was certainly bolder and more courageous than him. Unlike him, who hadn’t even tried because of the fear of being rejected by her, she had just blurted it outright. She had done it even when she was scared out of her mind that he would reject her.
She didn’t know how impossible that was. She didn’t know how his heart pounded whenever he saw her. The way his desire sometimes tried to overpower him so that he could hug her just once. I didn’t even have the courage to tell the truth.
She looked unbearably beautiful. He hoped that she would keep calling him with that voice of hers which drove him crazy. Her smile always made him feel like a fool. He recalled her hugging him tightly out of the blue. Her warmth and her scent that she always had about her.