Dong Hoon had been unmasked and broken down into components. This diminutive individual was truly dangerous with her acute skills in observation, intuition, logic, and inference. She had nearly recited everything he had wanted to tell her at a meeting he had missed and what he had just tried to signal to her. She already knew…

He briefly closed his eyes to steady himself. Ji An, meanwhile, slumped into a chair, also trying to regain control of herself. The situation was slowly beginning to spiral out of control, yet her ahjussi was still in a critical condition, and it was crucial not to shock him with anything. She was scared by her own honest reaction, especially since Dong Hoon had closed his eyes and fallen silent. Not knowing how to interpret this, she sat quietly, waiting to see what would happen next.

At that moment, a nurse entered the room to check the patient’s vital signs and general wellbeing. This provided a brief respite from what had just transpired. Ji An stepped away from the bed and went to the bathroom, while Dong Hoon answered the nurse’s questions. After she left, Ji An approached the bed again, stood over him, and gently gazed into his now open eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she spoke up again, “I might have gone too far…”

“Ji An,” his voice, though altered and raspy, was clearly emotional, “I don’t know what to tell you… I probably don’t even need to… you’ve known everything about me for so long… What surprises me is that…” he searched for the right words, “that you had feelings for me… previously…” he paused again, “and from what you just said, I understand that I still matter to you… That is so incomprehensible to me… so precious…”

“Ahjussi,” she interrupted him, “stop talking so much! When you’re in better shape, we’ll talk… Over beer and soju, like old times,” she tried to lighten the mood, “What I said just now was meant to reassure you that I’m not angry with you and I’m not shocked by your appearance, because you’ve probably thought a lot about it. We’ll talk about the rest another time, okay?”

“Ymm,” he responded shortly.

“So, we’ve cleared some things up,” she concluded.

“Ji An?” Dong Hoon seemed to want to add something.


“Could you…,” he looked at her uncertainly, “could you reinstall the wiretap on my phone?” he blurted out unexpectedly.

“We?!” even Ji An could be taken aback at times.

“I want to talk to you when you’re far away… and I want to know that you’re listening…” he stared at her insistently, “Don’t you want to? If you don’t want to, I’m sorry…”

“Ahjussi, that’s actually a great idea!” Ji An was surprised she hadn’t thought of it herself, “But can I really do it?” now she was the one with doubts.


Ji An felt as though Ahjussi’s eyes were smiling.

“Okay! Let’s do it. Now?”

“If you can…”

“Do you have your phone somewhere here?” she looked around.

“It’s in the drawer… I haven’t used it yet,” now even his lips seemed to smile.

Ji An pulled out the smartphone and quickly installed the app. She remembered how she had done this once in the crowded subway for nefarious purposes, and she too smiled. Then she activated the app on her own phone and demonstrated to Dong Hoon that it worked by speaking into the microphone of his phone and listening on hers.

“I’ve got you under control again,” she stated with satisfaction.

Dong Hoon raised his hand with a thumbs up. He looked very pleased.

“Put my phone on top of the cabinet,” he requested.

“Will do, boss!”

She glanced at her watch and noted that Gi Hoon was due for his shift soon. She was doubly pleased because the intense situational strain had been managed, and she could once again tune into the breaths and conversations of her ahjussi. This time, it wasn’t so hard for her to leave the room, a fact that the observant Gi Hoon immediately picked up on and scrutinized both his brother and the departing girl suspiciously.

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