In the quiet of Dong Hoon’s room, solitude reigned. Yoon Hee briefly peered through the door and summoned Ji An. One entered while the other returned to her duties.

Ji An immediately noticed the change in the bandages encasing Dong Hoon’s head, now revealing his eyes and lips. As she drew closer, her heart stirred at the sight of his closed eyelids—lashless, though the skin around his eyes bore minimal burns, suggesting that perhaps in a last instinctive motion, he had shielded his face with his helmet and arm. His lips were exposed too, visibly marred by burns. Her heart tightened painfully at the sight, and she trembled, overwhelmed by emotion and pain.

It was unfortunate that no one had forewarned her of this significant alteration. Had she been mentally prepared, perhaps she could have contained her emotions. Instead, she was overtaken by them and burst into uncontrollable tears, her sobs echoing loudly.

At that moment, Dong Hoon opened his eyes. Ji An, drenched in tears, missed the initial flicker of his eyelids. She tried to stifle her crying, not wanting to wake him, but when she finally looked at him, she froze…

There they were—those eyes… That same gaze… Filled with tenderness and sadness, he looked at her so intently that she found herself speechless.

„Ji An…” she heard a raspy, unfamiliar voice— „Lee Ji An,” he repeated, laboriously raising his hand toward her.

„Ahjussi…” she whispered, standing frozen as if turned to salt.

Summoning his strength, Dong Hoon lifted his hand higher, and Ji An finally saw the gesture. She gently grasped his hand with both of hers and pressed her cheek to it, bending down so he wouldn’t have to strain.

He tried to stroke her face with his fingertips, but the bandages hindered him.

„Ji An,” he repeated, his voice strained with evident pain.

„Ahjussi, you don’t need to say anything…” she responded, realizing how much this effort was costing him in pain.

She moved closer to his head, and their gazes met again. They looked at each other for a long moment, communicating more in that silence than words could ever convey. They had become adept at this silent exchange, understanding each other without the need for spoken words. Ji An first heard him when she deleted a spy app from Dong Hoon’s phone, and he had loudly said, „Let’s be happy!” since then, there had been several moments where they communicated only with looks, like at their parting, and now at this unexpected reunion. Indeed, Ji An and Dong Hoon were now conversing without words, and though it is not yet time to reveal their silent dialogue, you might well guess its profound significance.

As Ji An’s tears subsided, Dong Hoon gently pulled her hand down, signaling her to sit. She obediently moved a chair closer to his head and sat down, leaning towards him.

„Ahjussi, do you need anything?” she asked aloud. „Do you want a drink?” There was a glass of water with a straw on the bedside table.

Dong Hoon shook his head slightly. Clearly, he did not want her to leave his side, not even for a moment. For him, the moment was also deeply moving, but his ability to communicate was still severely limited, so he desired her closeness, as close as possible, for it brought him happiness.

Ji An understood and drew even closer, resting her head on a corner of the pillow. Once again, she listened to his breathing, which soothed and healed her. Meanwhile, Dong Hoon needed to feel her warmth near, as the old and new conflicts within his lost heart and mind continued to create turmoil.

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