Yoon Hee remembered the promise she had made to Ji An and called her as soon as everyone had dispersed. It wasn’t immediately, for each person wanted to savor Dong Hoon’s milestone, but the doctor himself expedited their departure by gently reminding those present to let the patient rest. He explained that if Dong Hoon could hear them but was unable to see or move, he might feel considerable discomfort. It was crucial to allow him peace, to gradually acquaint him with his condition, and to inform him bit by bit about what had happened and what lay ahead.

No one needed to be told twice. Even Dong Hoon’s mother, with a humility seldom seen, made her exit, leaving only Yoon Hee, who had officially taken over Ji An’s vigil by his side.

„I’m calling back as we agreed,” Yoon Hee initiated the conversation without preamble, her voice tinged with the excitement of the day’s events but also a detectable distance from Ji An. „It took some time because everyone was so thrilled they didn’t want to leave until the doctor had to shoo them away.”

„Thank you,” was Ji An’s succinct response.

„As for Dong Hoon,” Yoon Hee got straight to the point, „the doctor confirmed that he’s indeed aware and seems to comprehend his situation. He briefly described his injuries and condition, explaining why his face is bandaged. Dong Hoon even responded sensibly to some of his questions.”

There was a pause, an opening for Ji An to ask anything.

„Ahjumma, did the doctor say when they’ll at least uncover his eyes and mouth?” Ji An inquired directly.

„Well, he didn’t specify, but from the context, it appeared they would check within the next day to see if they could adjust the bandages to leave his eyes and mouth uncovered.”

Ji An’s tone shifted slightly, „Ahjumma…”

„Yes?” Yoon Hee encouraged, sensing the change.

„Could we meet for a brief chat somewhere?”

„Of course,” Yoon Hee replied quickly, though evidently surprised by the request. „How about tomorrow, before your shift, in that café next to the hospital? Would that work?”

„And who will stay with ahjussi?” Ji An’s concern was always for him first.

„Don’t worry, he’ll be fine alone for half an hour with medical care at hand,” Yoon Hee reassured.

„Alright, I’ll come early then and wait for you in the café. Thank you for the update on ahjussi.”

„It’s no trouble at all. You have every right to know. Anything else you’d like to ask?”

„No, thank you.” Ji An’s reply was once again brief, with no desire to prolong the conversation.

„Well, I’ll be off then. See you tomorrow. Goodbye, Ji An!”

„Goodbye.” And with that, the call ended.

Ji An was left with mixed feelings. Joy for Dong Hoon’s progress mingled with an intuitive sense of his pain, confusion, and uncertainty. She wanted to offer him constant support, but it was impossible. Accepting this reality, she tried to offer as much comfort as she could from afar. With these thoughts, she finally fell asleep in the early hours, while Jeong Hui, rising for work, tiptoed around not to disturb her. Aware of everything, she chose not to ask any questions.

„Poor girl,” she thought, „She must wish she could be by Dong Hoon’s side all the time. Let her sleep now that she’s finally managed to.” She gently pulled the blanket back over Ji An and quietly left the small room above the restaurant.

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