In the morning, Gi Hoon appeared to Dong Hoon. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t taken aback by Lee Ji An’s presence, having conspired with his sister-in-law in their unique secret pact. He readily agreed to a schedule where either would replace the other to be with Ji An, depending on necessity. This time marked their inaugural exchange.

Ji An was already awake when he knocked on the door. Indeed, that brief nocturnal repose was her sole respite during her first vigil. She spent the remainder immersed in thought and listening to Dong Hoon’s breathing. Fatigue was foreign to her; she would have gladly extended her stay, but their mother was due at the hospital, necessitating her departure. She was slated for another late evening and overnight duty in two days—a timeline that felt distant yet prompted no complaint from her. She knew Dong Hoon was surrounded by loved ones eager to support him and his family. Resignation was her only recourse.

„Good morning!” Gi Hoon greeted her warmly and with courtesy, observing her demeanor. He hadn’t seen her since their farewell before her trip to Busan.

„Good morning!” Ji An returned the greeting, stepping away from the bed.

„Any changes? Was the night uneventful?” Gi Hoon inquired, maintaining the conversation as duty bound them to report any disturbances immediately. Since he hadn’t received any calls from her, he surmised the night had passed peacefully.

„No, nothing happened,” Ji An responded. „The nurse checked in several times, but all was normal,” she reported politely.

„That’s good to hear,” Gi Hoon acknowledged. „You may go now. We’re very thankful,” he added.

„I’m just grateful I could help and spend time with ahjussi,” she said, looking down, aware of how odd her words might seem.

Gi Hoon, however, responded naturally, without pretense. He truly wanted Ji An to feel comfortable among them. He remembered the hope and strength she brought into his brother’s life during the hardest times, all without expecting anything in return. His trust in her was complete, built on her demonstrated loyalty and dedication. Unbeknownst to her, he had grown fond of her, recognizing her inherent goodness—a depth perhaps unseen even by Dong Hoon. But that was a contemplation for another time.

Ji An felt a discomfort towards him, pondering why Yoon Hee had brought Dong Hoon’s younger brother into their circle. As she gathered her belongings to leave, she watched him from the corner of her eye but noticed nothing unusual. Previously, Gi Hoon’s erratic behavior during social gatherings had painted him as unstable. Now, he appeared calm, friendly, and utterly devoted to his brother, showing towards her a sincerity and… almost brotherly affection. Internally, she was surprised by her positive response to the youngest of the Park brothers.

„I’ll be going then. Goodbye!” she said, bowing before she left.

„Goodbye!” He turned and bowed politely. „When’s your next shift?” he asked warmly.

„In two days, I’ll be back for the night shift,” she replied.

„Aha, so you’ll be relieving me then,” he said, smiling amicably.

„Goodbye!” She bowed again and quietly left the room.

Gi Hoon noted her departure, admiring her gentle nature and acute awareness of her own manners. Ji An passed this test with flying colors, her delicate disposition endearing her to him even more.

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