Beneath the cloak of night, the streets of Seoul whispered untold tales, unfulfilled dreams, and secrets the city kept only to itself. The moon, like an ancient guardian, cast its glow upon the glass facades of buildings, creating shadows that seemed to dance in rhythm with the slumbering metropolis. Within one such restless building, on an intensive care unit, life and death, internal and external forces, as Dong Hoon might say, performed their silent ballet.

Ji An sat by his bed, her hands gently resting on his right arm. The room was bathed in a cozy dimness, with only the rhythmic hum of medical equipment piercing the quiet. At one moment, she briefly bowed her head and rested it against the edge of the bed, striving to find within herself the strength to articulate all that she felt, though she knew Dong Hoon couldn’t hear her. Yet, her inner intuition whispered that he sensed it all, if not with his mind, then with his heart. After all, they had reached a stage where they communicated from a distance, whenever they wished.

„Ahjussi,” she began, her voice quivering with emotion, like a leaf in the wind, „do you remember how you spoke of the clash between internal and external forces in life? Do you remember? – please…” – she continued gently, yet her grip on his hand tightened – „don’t give up! You have so much inner strength… and I’m here for you, outside, ready to help” – she caressed his hand tenderly – „You must endure this and come back to us” – she paused uncertainly, adding – „you must come back to me… I don’t want to be here without you. Understand?”

At that moment, a nurse entered the room. Such visits were frequent, as Park Dong Hoon was officially in intensive care, but given his stabilized condition, he was allowed to stay in a private room designed for strict monitoring of his state.

Lee Ji An bowed slightly and moved away from the bed, not to disturb the nurse. However, in her usual manner, she observed carefully, letting no nuance of the nurse’s reactions to the readings escape her attention. When the nurse finished, she asked if everything was alright, to which the nurse merely nodded, bid farewell, and exited.

„Thank you, thank you for fighting,” Ji An returned to her monologue, sitting as close to the bed as before – „Don’t worry about how you look… It’s really nothing. You’ll get used to it!” – she pondered what he might be thinking if he could hear and feel what was happening – „The most important thing is for the wounds to heal and not bother you, and the doctors believe it’s doable, once you get through the hardest stage. Your task is to survive, understand? We’ll take care of the rest, the doctors and all of us. Ahjussi, I need to step out to the restroom, and I’ll be right back.”

She needed a moment to compose herself, as emotion began to affect the steadiness of her voice. She wanted to calm down and regain control, to avoid transferring any anxiety to poor Dong Hoon. After all, this was her first vigil and the first time she was alone with him since returning from Busan and the accident. Whether she wanted to or not, emotions were making themselves known, and she wasn’t fully in command of them.

She washed her face with cold water, took several deep breaths, looked deeply into her own eyes, and loudly proclaimed:

„It’s nothing! Fighting!”

A few minutes later, she returned to her position, but this time, she said nothing. She merely held his hand, resting her head on the edge of the bed. She listened to his artificial breathing and didn’t even notice when she fell asleep.

The air hung heavy with silence, filled with promises yet unspoken. And the moon, a silent witness to the scene, cast a pale light on Ji An’s face, which bore a mix of pain, longing, and unwavering determination.

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