She returned from work exceptionally quickly today. The subway and bus seemed to arrive as if on cue, and the crowds were thinner than usual. She entered her service apartment, which was bright, clean, and very comfortable—a stark contrast to the den she once inhabited. Its only fault was that it was not in the Hoogye district, for which she continually longed. If it were up to her, that’s the only place she would seek residence. But a service apartment is a service apartment, and there’s no use complaining—especially since the standard was truly high and the fees were merely symbolic, deducted from her salary.

Ji An put the kettle on to make some coffee. She placed her phone on the kitchen counter, pulled out the earphones, and continued listening to what was happening with Dong Hoon. Since his discharge from the hospital, she had his permission to eavesdrop on him. They had both grown so accustomed to it that it had literally become second nature. It made her feel more at ease about him, and he finally parted with the loneliness that slowly, but inevitably, pushed him toward depressive states.

Now, against all logic, he breathed deeply, felt eager to live, and to face the challenges associated with returning to normalcy. He had an angel on his side who not only knew him like no one else but also loved him with genuine, selfless affection. He often wondered what he had done to deserve such favor, but so far, he had found no answer. If anyone knew that he allowed such a young woman to listen in on him, they’d likely think him mad, but for him, it was the truest form of therapy against loneliness, pain, and feeling worthless. Ji An, watching from the background, was both a balm and a lifeline for Dong Hoon. But let’s return to her and her apartment.

She had just changed into her home clothes, placed her coffee on the table, and settled comfortably on the sofa. Initially, she thought about turning on a drama to detach a bit from reality, but she heard that Dong Hoon’s younger brother had come over, which piqued her interest. The brothers’ conversation was so captivating that Ji An no longer thought about watching television.

She couldn’t even remember when she began to like Gi Hoon. It was probably during Dong Hoon’s hospitalization. She received a lot of positive energy and approval from him. She felt accepted by him and sensed that he understood the complicated emotional situation she and Dong Hoon were in. She was sure he was on their side.

Today, in the conversation between the brothers, she saw Gi Hoon from another perspective. She understood that he was just as sensitive and intelligent. She sympathized with the situation he found himself in and admired how he handled it. She was glad he had such a brother before whom he could open his heart and be understood and comforted. It deeply moved her. And as she listened to their conversation, she suddenly heard her own name and the context in which it was mentioned. She was so overwhelmed that she literally froze. She wondered whether to stop listening, but something held her back. It was as if she heard Dong Hoon’s voice:

Don’t hang up…

So she listened until the end when Dong Hoon, moved by his brother’s words about her, got up and went to his room.

Did you hear? – he asked unexpectedly.

She replied by text, as she usually did.


Gi Hoon, like you, doesn’t beat around the bush but hits straight from the shoulder – he sighed – Weren’t you upset?

No – came another text – He’s right. I don’t care about your age, your life’s journey, others’ opinions, and lately, how you look or will look – she quickly sent another text.

Ji An – he sighed heavily – you’re impossible! Really, nothing deters you about me…

Exactly – she replied – The more you try, the closer you are to me. I can’t help it.

Alright, let’s end for today. I’m really tired and going to sleep. Sorry I didn’t even ask how your day was. Aren’t you mad?

No – appeared on his screen along with a smiling emoji.

Let’s talk tomorrow, okay?


Then, good night, Ji An! Get some rest!

Goodnight, ahjussi – was her response.

Ahjussi… ahjussi – he sighed dissatisfied – when will you stop calling me that? Don’t answer, I’m falling asleep…


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