A M N E S I A: Chapter 18

Chapter 1: First Love Nocturne

Chapter 2: Date?

Chapter 3: Daydreaming Heartbeat

Chapter 4: Closer

Chapter 5: Are You Listening?

Chapter 6: Confusing

Chapter 7: I Miss You

Chapter 8: 안녕

Chapter 9: Friends

Chapter 10: Uncomfortable

Chapter 11: Sleepless

Chapter 12: Unpredictable

Chapter 13: Warmth

Chapter 14: Ready

Chapter 15: Reason to Love

Chapter 16: Occupied

Chapter 17: Mistake(n)

Chapter 18:

Forgive Me


AUTHOR NOTE:

I had written a lot of parts of this chapter before December 18 (SHINee Jonghyun’s death). I was really grieved to hear the news for he was my favorite male artist. If you notice, I had ended the scene of chapter 17 in front of Jonghyun with the intention of elaborating his role in Key’s life here in Chapter 18. I had written lines that he himself says in the story that subtly hit the cruel reality of his actual celebrity life and grievances before even knowing how true it was. It was like I had written a tribute to him weeks before he even left (and the fact that he died on the 18th when this itself is CH18 made it worse). It somewhat scared me that I had to back away for a while. And when I came back occasionally to write this, I couldn’t help but carefully scrutinize this chapter again and again in order not to portray him or anyone in the wrong light.

For those who are SHINee fans (especially Jonghyun fans), or just anyone having a hard time with loss, whether it’d be out of betrayal, sickness, circumstances, guilt, or misunderstanding, I hope you find at least some comfort in this chapter.


 

      A few months before, just after school, Jonghyun caught Kibum on a corner of the gym scribbling things on a quiz paper that they did earlier that day. He found it strange for Kibum to suddenly be writing things down all by himself since he liked being around people a lot. So he swooped down without warning to sit with him and took a peek at what he was writing.

      “What are you doing?” Jonghyun smirked.

      “WAH! You scared me,” Kibum flinched on his seat and turned the sheet of paper away from his friend. Jonghyun didn’t miss what he has written down though.

      “‘U?’ What is that?” he snickered. “Are you writing a song?”

      “Wha- Hm. Hey. Go away, Jonghyun,” Kibum stuttered and elbowed him roughly.

      “Wooooohh writing a song, eh? How unlikely of you!” Jonghyun smirked and laughed. “C’mon, let me see!” He reached out for the paper but Kibum stretched his arm farther away from him.

      “Hey-no, stop!” Kibum started to feel embarrassed. He didn’t want anyone to find out that he was writing a song for the first time ever in his life, especially it being a love song for Eunji. And of all people, he didn’t want to show it to Jonghyun, especially since the guy has written and composed great songs before that won singing competitions. His novice creation would probably be so bad compared to his.

      Soon enough, Minjae spotted them fighting over the papers and approached them. While Kibum was so distracted getting it far away from Jonghyun’s hand, Minjae was able to snatch it from him.

      “WOAH—HEY!” Kibum was caught off guard that Minjae was suddenly in the picture and the two friends stumbled on each other. Out of frustration, Kibum pushed Jonghyun away from him and Jonghyun laughed his head off.

      “U? Wow, Kibum-ah, I knew it!” Minjae covered his mouth and laughed at him. “I was right about you!”

      “About what?” Kibum rolled his eyes. He reached out for the papers, but Minjae kept it away from him. Kibum just covered his face out of embarrassment and gave up.

      “Is it any good?” Jonghyun asked as he stared at Minjae reading the paper.

      “It could be better,” Minjae shrugged and then said, “It’s pretty nice, though.”

      “Ugh, you guys! Can you please just give it back to me?” Kibum said. Minjae then handed it to Jonghyun as he ignored what Kibum just said.

      As soon as it got on Jonghyun’s hands, he read out loud, “‘I couldn’t bear to say that I like you. Being by your side was good enough. Yes, should I muster up some cour—’”

      “HEY!!! STOOOP!!!” Kibum tried to cover Jonghyun’s eyes and snatch the paper away again, but Jonghyun escaped him and stood beside Minjae, continuing to read the things Kibum has written so far.

      “I’m telling you I want you, I’m telling you I love you,” Jonghyun’s laugh got louder as he read. Kibum wanted to die out of embarrassment because of how cheesy it sounded.

      “Woah, Kibum, who is this about?” Jonghyun smirked. “I didn’t know you had such affection for someone!”

      “I’m just writing a song. Does it even have to be about someone?” Kibum grumbled.

      “When people write love songs like this, it’s usually about someone,” Jonghyun smirked.

      “I know! I know!” Minjae said with his chin up as if proud to know it before anyone else. “It’s Eunji.”

      Kibum found it unbelievable that Minjae was able to say it so loud and clear instead of just whispering it to Jonghyun. “OH-MY-GOD MINJAE. SSSHH!”

      “Ooohhh, the girl asking for possible bachelors for her mom all the time?”

      “For your information, it’s the girl with the most amazing voice I’ve ever heard and the girl who has the greatest heart of all,” Kibum said.

      “Hey, what does that make me, then?” Jonghyun joked. “You said I had the greatest voice of all.”

      “Well—tch… besides you, okay,” Kibum rolled his eyes.

      “I go to a youth group with her,” Minjae added. “I’m pretty close to her ever since we were kids so I know.”

      “Know what?” Kibum snarled.

      “Know when someone is interested in her,” Minjae snickered. “And I’m close with you, too, so I know you like her. Besides, who else would that song be about but her?”

      “Tch, just because you’re dating So-Eun now, you feel like an expert, huh,” Kibum scoffed. “You feel like you know everything.”

      “Then are you denying that you like her?” Minjae crossed his arms. “You know I’m very right.”

      “C’mon just admit it, bro. I mean I don’t think Eunji’s pretty bad,” Jonghyun said. “We’re not a pack of wolves. We’re you’re friends. Don’t we deserve to know if you like someone?”

      “Hm. I don’t know about that. You guys were a pack of wolves just seconds ago.”

      “Oh c’mon, you know we were just playing. On a serious note, we could actually help you out with composing this.”

      Kibum gave it a second thought and stuttered, “R-really…?”

      “I have to admit, it’s pretty good already. I definitely want to hear how it goes,” Jonghyun said. “I’ve written stuff way cringe-ier than this, so don’t worry.”

      “See, coming from Jonghyun the music genius, that’s something,” Minjae said.

      “I’m still inexperienced with romance, though I do know how to think of the moods and structures of songs,” Jonghyun added. “Minjae and Minho can help you with finishing up the words. I’ll be the composer.”

      “Wait, Minho? He doesn’t even know romance,” Kibum scoffed.

      “Oh, he does,” Jonghyun smirked. “We can discuss that later. But anyway, I guess it’d be enough if Minjae helped since he knows Eunji more than all of us. And he’s the only guy dating someone. I mean can you believe it? He’s dating before any of us and he’s like the most-girly looking boy around.”

      “I am not!” Minjae pouted.

***

      After Kibum dropped Eunji off at the studio to be with Mr. Kim, he went straight to Jonghyun’s house just as they planned earlier that day. Minjae, Minho, and Jinri were all there. They went up to his room and Jinri, being there for the first time, marveled at the music equipment sitting on every corner. There was an upright electric keyboard, a minty-green bass guitar leaning on a large amp, a starburst Les Paul beside it, and an acoustic guitar sitting at his bed. There were different kinds of wires under his desk that connected to his laptop. There was also a mini MIDI piano keyboard to top it all off. It made everyone there feel like it was not a bedroom but a small recording studio.

      “You even have a box drum!?” Jinri pointed to what Kibum decided to sit on. “Oh man, Jonghyun, this place is so cool! You’re really serious about being a musician, huh.”

      “These are all a bunch of second-hand instruments from my uncle. But yeah, it’s been my passion. Whether it’d be just composing or me actually performing them, music is what keeps my life.”

      “Speaking of composing, why don’t we finish Kibum’s song today since we’re already here with your awesome instruments?” Minjae said.

      “Wait, Kibum has a song?” Minho snickered.

      Instead of finding it ridiculous, Jinri thought it was intriguing, “Oh, really? You haven’t told us. I wanna hear it!”

      Kibum just sighed. It was still embarrassing for him to reveal that he has written a love song, but he did want it to be completed. And who would be better to complete it with but with his musically talented friends Jonghyun and Minjae, right?

      “I just started it earlier this morning. It’s-it’s not that good yet,” Kibum said as he took out the papers from his bag.

      “Oh come on, it will be good, trust me,” Jonghyun. “With our help, you will Eunji’s heart, no worries!”

      Kibum was again flustered that they mentioned Eunji again so carelessly especially since Jinri and Minho didn’t know about it yet.

      “Eunji!” Jinri burst into laughter. “Hold on, really? Eunji?”

      “You like Eunji?” Minho laughed in astonishment, too.

      “Fine—yeah, I like Eunji. What’s so wrong about that?” Kibum pouted, thinking they were laughing because they didn’t find Eunji all that special when in fact that is not what they thought at all.

      “Of course it’s not. Eunji’s an amazing person,” Jinri said. “It’s just quite surprising that you like her. That girl has no heart for boys. She’s even like a boy herself.”

      “Yeah, she’s manlier than Minjae,” Minho said earning a death glare from Minjae.

      “What do you like about her?” Jinri asked.

      “Well—I… Do you really need a reason? I mean just everything about her makes me… makes me happy,” Kibum stammered. “She has an awesome voice, she’s pretty, her smile is like the brightest thing ever, she plays and jokes well with me, she’s a little rough on the outside but she’s very compassionate, understanding, and wise, and I don’t know… I could go on, really. And she doesn’t, like, bring me down for things that I find enjoyable even though it’s a bit… I don’t know… She’s just so cool.”

      “Oh wow,” Minho nodded. “Not many guys have a crush on her—I’m surprised you of all people see her that way.”

      “Yeah, it’s my first time hearing such admiration for her,” Minjae said. “What started it?”

      “I’m not really so sure myself,” Kibum wondered. “But I think… I think it’s just recently that I feel like I’ve fallen deep for her—like I genuinely feel like I want to care for her. I’ve had a crush on her for a long while but… it’s just these days that I actually want to make her happy and you know, make her laugh or something. Like I want to be there for her often, you know? But I’m just worried if it shows… she’ll find me creepy and you know, shun me. I don’t think I’m her type.”

      “You’re worried she won’t feel the same way, huh?” Jinri said.

      “Yeah. She just knows me as the loud and crazy kid running around school and occasionally visiting her lunch table. I mean we are neighbors and we have been hanging out more than we ever did in our time of knowing each other, but… I’m just scared.”

      “Hmm, I was thinking about that too, but to be honest, I think her feelings for you are not far off,” Minjae suddenly said. “I feel like she likes you more than you think.”

      “What makes you think that?” Kibum asked.

      “You’re a fun guy, Kibum, and she has told me before that she does likes having you around. I don’t think she would let you in her house so often if she didn’t like hanging out with you. So it’s probably possible for her to share the same feelings. I mean you never know until you actually make a move, right?”

      “But the thing is, I don’t want to start anything too soon, you know? If it turns out she doesn’t have feelings for me, what am I gonna do? I would make it weird for the both of us. We haven’t even been friends that long, Minjae.”

      “Regardless of that thought,” Jonghyun said. “I bet you when we finish this song, she will love it so much and find new light in you.”

      “Are you sure about that?”

      “Although you are pretty crazy most of the time as you said, this could actually work and show how much of an affectionate person you are,” Jonghyun said. “And if it doesn’t work out—if it turns out she really doesn’t like you, then her loss, right? She’s gonna miss out on a really good guy!”

      “No, it’s my loss, not hers, because I want her to be in my life, not vice versa,” Kibum said. “Gosh Jonghyun, you really have no experience, do you?”

      “Look, all I’m saying is, isn’t it better if you confess to her with a song? You know… just to see how she would react. She is a singer after all. You can just casually sing it for her and let her think for herself what it all means. You don’t have to be so direct about it that it’s about her. So it’s gonna be good. Trust me.”

      “Why are you so sure this can win her heart?”

      “I made it work for the both of them, didn’t I?” Jonghyun pointed to Jinri and Minho and the two were flustered by what he said. Minjae and Kibum stared at the two in disbelief.

      “Wait… you guys are a thing?” Kibum’s mouth dropped.

      “Um…” Minho glanced at Jinri and gulped.

      Jinri, who was right beside Jonghyun, slapped him on his arm. “I told you we should be the one to reveal it, not you!” she scolded him.

      “Wow, okay, what is going on,” Kibum laughed. “How come Minjae and I know nothing of this?”

      “Jinri came to me wanting to make a song for Minho and—” before he could finish his sentence, Jinri covered his mouth and tried to headlock him. After rustling away from Jinri’s grip, Jonghyun said laughing, “Minho fell for Jinri with a song I wrote and composed. I have talent with songs, guys.”

      “So you both are dating right now?” Minjae said while looking at Jinri and Minho. “Wow it feels weird to be at this age. I never knew you’d both be a thing.”

      “Well, I pretty much expected they’d be together right from the moment they met each other. But you, I never knew you’d have a girlfriend, too, out of all people,” Jonghyun pointed to Minjae. “You’re the girliest.”

      “Oh come on,” Minjae rolled her eyes. “I’m not girly!”

      “You do realize that makes you the only loner in our group now, Jonghyun,” Minho chuckled.

      “LONER AND PROUD,” Jonghyun bragged.

      “I’m still here for you, Jonghyun,” Kibum said. “We could be loners together.”

      “Aw, Kibum,” Jonghyun flashed a warm smile towards his friends then snickered. “But it’d be nice if I can be the cupid around here. I don’t care about being in a relationship yet as all of you guys do, but I do find all of this entertaining. So I’m still going to help you in winning Eunji’s heart.”

      “Isn’t it weird that you want us to pay more attention to our girlfriends than hang out with you?” Minjae wondered.

      “Now who says I wanted that?!” Jonghyun pouted. “I want you guys to be happy with your relationships, but I don’t want you all to forget that I played a big role. As I said, I’m the cupid here! It’d be nice to have some achievements in winning people’s hearts with my song before I actually become a well-known musician! And I mean if any of the people I became cupid for actually gets married in the future, I’ll be convinced that my songs have a potential to be very successful.”

      “If we finish my song and it works to win Eunji’s heart in some way, then I’ll treat you to something nice. I will repay you well in the future, especially if you become interested in someone. I will forever remember your help because you are a great bro.”

      “See, Kibum understands my place,” Jonghyun said. “Thanks, man. That means a lot.”

      “Jonghyun, I… I’m so, so sorry,” Kibum heavily breathed out after recalling that day Jonghyun and his friends worked very hard on the song ‘U’. After all this time, it was them who helped give him courage to confess to Eunji—it was them who made the song that gave him comfort in his coma. They played a big role and bringing him and Eunji together and how did he repay them? He ignored their presence and basically convinced himself that they all meant nothing to him. Now he realizes what a fool he has been. Eunji was right to scold him all this time. He wept bitterly feeling so ashamed of how he treated his friends. He fell on his knees as the guilt weighed heavily on his shoulders.

      Jonghyun felt awkward not knowing what to do. He was too stunned to see him kneeling there let alone process what just came out of his mouth. What was going on? What was this about? Why was he crying? Why was he here after he treated them so coldly for the past few months?

      “Who is it?” said a girl coming from behind him. It was Jinri. When she saw Kibum sobbing in front of Jonghyun, she approached him and also became speechless to see him there. “Kibum… what are you doing here?”

      Kibum was too emotionally stressed to answer. He couldn’t even find the strength to look at them in the eyes.

      Jonghyun’s heart broke seeing his friend on his knees so he helped him stand up. He softly patted Kibum’s shoulder and said, “Why don’t you come in?”

      Slowly but hesitantly, Kibum stepped in Jonghyun’s home. When Jonghyun closed the door, Jinri softly hugged Kibum and he continued to cry on her shoulders. Sulli then tried to wipe his tears with her hands and asked, “What’s wrong Kibum? Why are you crying so much?”

      “I… how could you both let me in so easily like this?” he sniffed.

      “What do you mean? We’re you’re friends, Kibum. Of course we’ll let you in any day,” Jonghyun said without wavering. Because of those words, Kibum sobbed even harder. Hearing that they still accepted him as their friend didn’t make any sense to him, but it meant a lot to him.

      “Why don’t we go up to Jonghyun’s room and talk there?” Jinri softly caressed his back to give him comfort. And so the three of them went up to Jonghyun’s room. There Minho was playing with the beat pad of Jonghyun’s MIDI piano keyboard and he immediately stood up when Kibum came in.

      Kibum, red and miserable from crying, tried to control his tears and the three waited patiently for him to calm down. When Kibum has stopped crying for a while, Sulli gently started, “What brings you here, Kibum?”

      “I… I just wanted to say I’m… I’m sorry. For everything.”

      “What do you mean?” Jinri asked.

      “For these past few months, I’ve been treating you all so badly. But now… now I remember. I remember who guys are to me.”

      “You do?” Minho’s eyes widened.

      “I’ve been with Eunji all this time because she was the only person I remember well, but recently… she did things to me that I couldn’t understand before.”

      “Is that why you guys have been cold to each other today?” Jonghyun asked. “What did she do? Did she hurt you?” he said with his voice hinting anger.

      “No, no… It’s my fault. Don’t be angry at her. Please…”

      “How could I not be? She’s been stealing you from us,” Jonghyun growled but then Jinri held his arm to tell him not to let his bitterness and jealousy overtake him.

      “No, she didn’t steal me from anyone. I was the one being stubborn. I was the one who didn’t want anyone else but her. Don’t hold anything against her. If you need someone to be angry at, be angry at me.”

      “What do you mean?” Jonghyun tensed up hearing Kibum blame himself.

      “Eunji… she has been caring about you guys a lot more than anyone else,” Kibum said. “She has been telling me for the longest time—ever since I woke up from my coma—not to hate you guys for wanting to hang out with me. She had often tried to convince me to spend time with all of you but… I was stubborn because I didn’t… I didn’t know you. And I… I thought I didn’t want to.” Jonghyun realized that he had been angry at Eunji for the wrong reasons and tried to calm himself down.

      “Recently, she had been keeping herself busy and I couldn’t understand why she was doing it but now, I get it. She wanted me to realize that… that you guys are still my friends and that… and that you guys still matter—that you guys should matter to me. So I’m… I’m so, so sorry,” he started to tear up again and Minho patted his back to assure him that it was alright.

      “We forgive you,” Jinri said. “Besides, we understand that it’s only because you couldn’t remember us. We kind of understood how hard it was for you—to act like someone you can’t be, or couldn’t be yet. But now that you do remember us, this much is enough, and it’s alright Kibum.”

      “Yeah. And don’t be too sorry. As long as you were happy with Eunji, we’re happy. We knew Eunji was generally a good person, so it didn’t completely bother us that you wanted to spend time with her instead,” Minho said. “She does have a good heart as you have always said before to us.”

      “B-but I thought… I thought everyone was jealous because I hung out only with her.” Kibum said. “Are you guys not angry at me??

      “Yeah, we were jealous,” Jonghyun nodded. “You were our best friend. Who wouldn’t be jealous? But because of the accident, we couldn’t do anything about it. In a way, we do understand you. We can’t be angry at you for that.”

      “I’m just so sorry for treating you all like the worst people ever,” Kibum said. “Eunji means so much to me now and I can’t believe I would forget that you guys were the ones who helped me get closer to her.”

      “Although we did play a role, you and Eunji got closer by yourselves,” Jinri said.

      “But wait, the rumor that you guys are not in good terms today still stands. Is that still true?” Jonghyun asked.

      “Yes, it’s true. It’s because… because we argued yesterday about this very thing—how I hated her for intentionally avoiding me so that I could be in your shoes. I hated her for saying that I should give you guys a second chance. But just now, Minjae sent me the old quiz papers that had ‘U’ written at the back of it and I suddenly remembered we completed it and how much you guys worked hard and cared to make my relationship with her work. So now I feel awful for making these stubborn mistakes towards everyone.”

      “It’s okay, Kibum. Honestly, we haven’t been the greatest people ourselves. For a while now, we haven’t been as nice to Eunji as we should’ve been, and hearing this all from you now, we’re very sorry to her about that, too. If she was really trying to reconcile us as much as we wanted to reconcile with you, then we would have to say sorry to her as much as you have done today to us.” Jinri said. “What do you say? Let’s all apologize to Eunji together and thank her for all that she was trying to do.”

      “Would that be okay?” Kibum timidly lifted his head from crying. “It’s only been a day since Eunji and I argued. I don’t know if she would accept my apology so quickly. I think I said some harsh words to her yesterday. A-and… I don’t know how she will react when I take you all with me.”

      “Then we could… we could call Minjae to help us. He’s close to Eunji, right?” Jonghyun said. “If he sent you that old quiz paper, he must’ve been thinking about it already.”

      “Yeah,” Jinri nodded. “Let’s not drag this to a week.”

      After a short silence, Kibum suddenly said, “You know what? It can wait. Let’s do it in the weekend. Right now, I want to make up for the time we’ve lost together.”

      The three were a little bit surprised at his sudden proposal but they couldn’t deny it since this was all they wanted after a long time. And so they hung out in Jonghyun’s room talking about the things they have missed together. They were all together until the day ended.


 

      It’s been two restless days after Jinwon stormed off of Stephanie’s house that one afternoon. Stephanie’s heart had slightly become lighter after finding out the actual story of Jinwon’s dream, but the strange low of energy she’s been having seems to be getting worse. Her head is getting heavier, her body becoming more lethargic than ever, and her appetite rapidly going up and down. She couldn’t understand what she was feeling but she could only blame it from missing Jinwon because she was also craving his presence more than ever.

      In the afternoon, Jessica met up with Stephanie at the wedding dress shop. Stephanie didn’t bring up the topic of her confessing to Jinwon because she felt that she has heard more than enough from Yohan. She also did not want to ask about the text messages they’ve been having since she guessed that she has probably read it all out of context. Besides, Jessica is still showing to this day how much she cares for her. Eunji had already gotten extremely bored of checking out a pile of wedding dresses for her mother, but Jessica’s heart was still so full of energy to look for the best dress for her best friend. She has been picking out dresses for her while giving strong opinions and she trusted them like they are the words of the mother she wished to have.

      “How’s the fitting? Is it too tight? ‘cause honestly, I want to find another one than this. I don’t think this dress is… you,” Jessica observed as she patted Stephanie’s stomach, hips, and stretched the cloth to see if Stephanie could still breathe.

      “Uuuaarrghh!” Eunji grumbled. “Can’t we just get it over with? It’s just a dress! You’ve tried out so many gowns and they all look the same! You look pretty on all of them! And I’m kinda hungry aaaaghhh…. What time is it? Why am I even here instead of singing at Xiah Dragon Noodles?”

      “Eunji, you’re doing this for your mother! Are you not at all excited knowing that your mom is getting married, and even more—to your dad? You’re such a unique kid to see your biological parents get married for the first time!” Jessica said as she was going through another set of wedding dresses. She found another dress for Stephanie that was recommended by the stylist of the shop. She helped Stephanie take off the dress and put a new one on.

      “I am excited but ugh, it’s just gonna be used for one day, and the price to rent it is pretty high. Why don’t you just lend Mom your own wedding dress since you’re not gonna use it a second time anyway, and it’s free,” Eunji said to Jessica.

      “I’m not lending her my dress, are you crazy?” Jessica shot back. “I don’t want her to look like me on her wedding day. Besides, I don’t think my wedding dress’s style would fit her.”

      “Well, either that or spend thousands of money on a dress you’re gonna use for one day,” Eunji said, crossing her arms to her chest. “Can’t you guys just get this over with quickly?”

      “Wow, the crankier you get, the more you sound like Jinwon when I used to shop with him,” Jessica snickered and shook her head.

      “You used to shop with him?” Eunji laughed in disbelief.

      “He happens to be my ex-boyfriend from my weird childhood, if you didn’t know. That’s why we’re kind of close buddies even before he dated Stephanie. Anyway, I used to steal him from Stephanie whenever Yohan wasn’t around to hang out with me—with Stephanie’s permission of course,” Jessica said. Stephanie nodded, claiming it to be true.

      “Ahhh…,” Eunji was skeptical about the part where Jessica steals Jinwon from her mother after Jinwon just told her a few days ago about that dream of her confessing to him. She wanted to ask about that but she felt it was not her place to know especially with her mother in the room.

      As Jessica helped Stephanie with the wedding gown in the dressing room, Jessica said, “Hey, Yohan told me you came to our house yesterday.”

      “Oh yeah,” Stephanie said. “I was looking for you.”

      “I heard. Yohan told me everything you guys talked about,” Jessica said and Stephanie was flustered.

      “What did he tell you?” Stephanie asked.

      “High school, Jinwon, Me…,” Jessica trailed off. An awkward silence fell upon them. Then she said, “I’m sorry you had to find out like that. I never really had the courage to tell you back then about the feelings I had towards him and I didn’t think it was necessary. But you understand my true feelings about it all right?”

      “Yes,” Stephanie nodded. “Yohan made it clear enough for me so don’t worry,” she smiled reassuringly. As Jessica pulled up the dress and tightened it from her waist, Stephanie’s head began to spin.

      “That’s a relief. Because I’m just planning on telling you that Jinwon and I had about the same discussion yesterday.”

      “What? Really?” Stephanie winced from the tight dress. Something inside her didn’t feel right.

      “Yeah, he called me up at the bar early and we talked about this dream that he had and I explained to him what happened as well. He seems to be pretty stressed about it since he was trying to cut his hours at night, and I didn’t understand why at first. But since Yohan told me your side of the story, I get why you’d think he was cheating on you with me. I know it must be stressful for you right now not being able to be with him at night, but you should understand that Xiah Dragons Bar is really short-staffed right now. I assure you, his workload at night will go down eventually and—”

      Jessica suddenly got startled when Stephanie tightly gripped her arm with her weight falling along. Stephanie blinked rapidly with her mouth slightly agape. She was focusing on something very seriously. She was trying not to breathe normally and stood there as if someone pressed the pause button on her. Jessica couldn’t make sense of what was happening.

      “Is this… dress too tight again?” Jessica asked as she was trying to read Stephanie’s expression. In a few seconds, Stephanie breathed out and panted. She sat down and pressed her hands to her face.

      She shook her head and said, “I feel nauseous.”

      “Hm?” Jessica worried for a second but her jaw immediately dropped in shock. She smirked and said, “Well, well, it seems like you had enough alone time with him after all, huh!”

      “Huh?” Stephanie was too out of it to understand what she meant but then it clicked and she was so embarassed. She blushed and stammered, “I-I… but I’m on my period right now… I-it’s… no way! How could you even jump so quickly to that conclusion? I just said I was nauseous.”

      “Period or spotting? You should know the difference!” Jessica said. Stephanie didn’t know what to say.

      “Okay, get up. Let’s take this dress off. We can decide on this another time.”

      “B-but the wedding is a few weeks from now, I—”

      “Stephanie! This is big news! We need to find out as soon as possible!” Jessica said with a big excited grin. “You can’t stop me now because I will bother you until I find out!”

      When they got out of the dressing room, Eunji saw how happy Jessica looked and approached them lazily, “Have you finally found the right dress?”

      “No, but Eunji, we are about to find something better! Get your mom’s bag, we’re leaving quickly.”

      “Ahh finally… wait, what is this about?”

      “Your mom might be pregnant right now,” Jessica whispered. As soon as those words entered Eunji’s ears, she covered her mouth from shock and froze.

      “Are… are you serious?”

      “Oh, just come along!” Jessica giggled as she dragged the two out of the dress shop.

      As they hopped in Jessica’s car, Eunji stared at her mom with wide eyes. She could not believe that this was actually happening. “Aren’t you on your period?”

      “I’ve told you it’s not strong but… Jessica told me it might just be spotting so now I actually don’t know,” Stephanie shrugged timidly.

      “Is this why you are so tired this week? Does that have something to do with it?” Eunji wondered. “Was it the same when you conceived me?”

      “I was so depressed when I had you so I don’t really remember most of what I felt then.”

      “I think anything strange from the norm can be a symptom when you’re pregnant,” Jessica laughed. “But nausea is definitely one of them, especially since Fany never gets nauseous.”

      “OOooohH!!! This feels so strange!” Eunji exclaimed. “I pretty much expected this to happen someday, but I didn’t know it’d be this soon!” Then she continued in her head, “Minjae’s guess might be right after all…”

      “Oh, I’m nervous myself!” Stephanie said. “Jinwon and I thought about having kids for next year, so I don’t know what I’ll feel about it if it’s really happening right now. I don’t know what I’m going to do!”

      “With sex drives like yours, I’m pretty sure planning is inevitable,” Jessica mumbled but it was still heard by the two. Eunji’s jaw dropped and she laughed her head off.

      “Hey!!” Stephanie retaliated with her face turning pink. “You can’t just say that!”

      “When did you guys even do it?” Eunji asked making Stephanie even redder.

      Stephanie could not believe her ears and said, “Do you really want to know that of all things?”

      Eunji continued to laugh her heart out and then said, “I’m sorry. Yeah, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”

      “But you guys, what am I going to do if I’m actually pregnant right now? You guys do know that Jinwon and I are not in the best terms right now,” Stephanie said.

      “You don’t have to worry,” Jessica said. “Your argument wasn’t even huge. Trust me, I’ve been there, but I don’t think it will be that bad for both of you. You just had a lack of communication. I’m pretty sure he wants to reconcile with you soon. You just have to be confident, say sorry for doubting him, and then reveal it to him when you guys have made up.”

      “If you’re really that nervous, I can be with you, Mom,” Eunji said. “But Dad loves you too much. I think you don’t have to worry about anything.” Stephanie nodded her head in understanding and her heart calmed down.

      However, when Jessica made a U-turn to reach her apartment, Stephanie’s stomach twisted and she breathed heavily, “Oh man… it’s coming back. I’m feeling really nauseous again.”

      “We’re almost there, I just need to park,” Jessica said. When she got the car parked, they all quickly got off and went to Jessica and Yohan’s apartment. As soon as they entered the empty home, Stephanie ran straight to the guest restroom and vomited.

      Eunji covered her ears from the gruesome sound and shivered, “She’s pregnant all right… I’ve never heard her sick like that.”

      When Stephanie has slightly calmed down, Jessica got a pregnancy test from her bedroom’s dresser and gave it to Stephanie.

      “How do you have this?” Stephanie chuckled at the thought of how ready Jessica was for this kind of occasion.

      “Well Yohan and I don’t have a son yet, that’s why I have this ready when I need it. But you can use it instead since you need it more right now.”

      “Okay,” She took a deep breath and exhaled to calm her rapidly beating heart. “I guess it’s time to find out.”

***

      Jinwon’s moods have also been abnormal from not seeing Stephanie for two days. He has become really anxious and jittery as if he has lost the high he’s had for the past few months. He stares at his phone multiple times a day debating whether to call Jinwon, but his pride wouldn’t let him since Stephanie started this mess. He still felt so bitter that Stephanie would ever accuse him of cheating on her and wanted her to suffer more by letting her think of more absurd things, but he also wanted to run to her, hug her, kiss her, and tell her what a fool she has been. Not being able to see her for two days suddenly felt worse than the fifteen years of separation they had before.

      When the night approached again, Jinwon immersed himself in his work trying to forget her for just a little while. However, as he was arranging his set list one last time before stepping on the small stage, Junsu came up to him with a strange grin.

      He said, “Jinwon, why don’t you cut your list in half for tonight? You can go home by 11 this evening. My brother can take over for you.”

      Jinwon was bewildered that his work hours was suddenly cut off after all that Jessica has said the day before, but he didn’t care to ask why. Less work hours was all he wanted after all. Maybe this was the heavens giving him the time to finally reconcile with Stephanie and hold her close after the two-day separation. He just couldn’t take it anymore. He will definitely hold her tight the moment they see each other again.

      As he got up from his seat with his music sheets on hand, he noticed that Junsu did not leave the room in his usual fashion and has been smiling at him for a few minutes now. He felt uncomfortable and stared back. “What?” he said.

      “Huh?” Junsu raised his eyebrows. “What?”

      “Why are you staring at me like that?” Jinwon asked.

      “Ahhh….,” Junsu’s unusual joy made him even more uncomfortable. “Was I staring at you? Hahahaha, I’m sorry. Won’t happen again. Go on, sing your heart out tonight as much as you’d like and go home early, okay?” He then patted Jinwon back softly and left the room.

      Jinwon paused for a moment to think about what was going on. He wasn’t curious about why his workload was suddenly reduced, but Junsu’s unusually happy grin made him skeptical. Why would Junsu suddenly be so kind to let him finish work early? It’s not like there is a new musical staff hired already because if so he would be the one to know first. Now he wonders if Jessica actually talked to Junsu about letting him go home early.

      And so, he sang his depressing ballads that evening still sounding as if the world had crashed on him. When it was time for his last song, he still did not think that what Junsu did was anything big, but he did look forward to going home—to Stephanie. He was given the chance and he should take advantage of it.

      He started playing the keyboard with a high and heart-wrenching tune and started to sing his last song for the night.

(If-TaeYeon)

If I were to go
If I were to go close to you
What would you think?
Just thinking of this breaks my heart

If you were to leave
If you were to leave my side
How would I ever let you go?
I’m always fearful of this

He closed his eyes and sang his heart out.

Because I was like a fool,
I could only look upon you
Because I was afraid of how your heart might change
And we might grow farther apart

I was such a fool
For not being able to tell you I loved you
Because I was afraid of the hurt and sadness
I would receive after we meet

Just then, Stephanie came in the bar alone. With Jinwon’s eyes still closed, she sat on a table on the corner far off from the stage and waited for him to finish his song.

If you were to come
If you were to come closer to me
What would I do?
I really would not know

Because I was like a fool,
I could only look upon you
Because I was afraid of how your heart might change
And we might grow farther apart

I was such a fool
For not being able to tell you I loved you
Because I was afraid of the hurt and sadness
I would receive after we meet

I was such a fool
For not being able to tell you I loved you
Because I was afraid of the hurt and sadness
I would receive after we meet

      As Jinwon opened his eyes, he was drawn to Stephanie’s familiar figure and spotted her immediately. When they met eyes, Stephanie waved and he was stunned. What was she doing here? The heavens must’ve really wanted them to reconcile tonight.

      He hastily picked up his music sheets and ran to the back room to pack up. Junsu then came in and said, “Good job. Enjoy the rest of the night!”

      “Huh?” Jinwon blinked not knowing why he was saying these things.

      Then Junsu patted his back again and softly said, “And congratulations.”

      “…on what?” Jinwon scratched his head. Junsu just smiled and walked away. Then he thought to himself, “Does he have something to do with Fany being here?”

      With that thought, he went to the table Stephanie sat on and said no words. He stood in front of her and it took most of his energy not to greet her warmly. He wanted to be angry and stand his ground but deep inside him he just wanted to kiss her and embrace her tightly.

      “Hey…,” Stephanie awkwardly started.

      “What are you doing here?” Jinwon firmly said. Stephanie knew how upset he may be at her but that did not faze her.

      “Is it okay if I walk you home tonight?” she said with pleading eyes. Jinwon felt weak just staring at her pouty face. As soon as she stood up, Jinwon could not take it anymore and hugged her as tightly as she could. Stephanie was taken aback for a moment, but she hugged him back, feeling happy that he was not as angry as he seemed even though he had all the right to be angry.

      “Let’s go,” Stephanie said and they left the bar together. They walked in silence for some distance that evening with their hands clasped together. Stephanie needed some time to organize her thoughts for she had a lot to say, and Jinwon, knowing this, waited patiently for her.

      Finally she started, “I… I want to apologize. I know it’s ridiculous that I ever accused you of cheating on me with my best friend. I’m really sorry for being stupid, and I am really, really sorry that I have been stubborn enough not to contact you these past two days. I’ve just really been out of my mind these days.” She paused for a moment to catch some breath and then continued, “And I uh… I met up with Nicholas about an hour after you left that afternoon.”

      Jinwon was shocked that those words even came out of her mouth but he did not say anything. “I know, I know,” Stephanie shook her head. “It’s the most ridiculous thing to do after I’ve just accused you of cheating. I honestly felt… so ashamed that I initiated to meet him first. I felt like I was cheating on you even if I wasn’t planning on doing anything bad with him. It just kind of happened and I couldn’t seem to stop myself because I’ve been so confused for the past few days, and with the argument we had, I guess I was trying to find someone to compare you to, because you know, I was… I was frustrated. I’m always asking for more, and yes… I know that I really have to learn to be satisfied. But you know what’s crazy? Even though I didn’t realize at first, I have been craving your presence more than normal for the past week. It’s only when I met Nick again after all these years that it hit me how much I love you now more than anyone else, and how much I just want to shout that I’m… I’m getting married to you.”

      “What did you guys talk about?” Jinwon asked.

      “We talked about what has been going on with our lives and we cleared some stuff out about our past relationship. We also congratulated each other on our engagement. It turns out he was getting married, too.”

      “Why did he agree to meet you, then?”

      “He said it’s because he wanted to clear out stuff about the both of us. It seems he had feelings left over for me even if we haven’t even contacted each other for so long, and he wanted to drop those feelings so that he could love his fiancée fully. I feel like meeting him gave both of us some kind of closure—it helped us I guess in a way, to ready our hearts for who we were supposed to be with, because the way we ended really was just… not clear. But now, I am now fully prepared to believe you and trust you with all my heart. Jinwon the first or Jinwon the second—it won’t ever matter to me which is which anymore because you… you are you, and I want to be with you.” She took a deep breath and looked at him in the eyes.

      “And I know the thing with Nick might sound absurd to you but I really did not do anything bad with him. I honestly don’t think I can ever lie to you anymore about anything anymore. My whole being wants me to be real with you. The guilt I’ve had these past few days has scolded me enough.”

      “It’s okay. You don’t have to justify yourself. I believe you and I trust you.”

      “My mind and especially my body have just been so crazy these days. I don’t think I can emphasize that enough. I really thought it was all just because of the wedding, you being busy at night, and the work I’ve been getting from my online jobs and also with church but… I realize my life has usually been this chaotic, but I had strength. So to see that I had no strength these days really confused me. But I have found the answer to it, and I need to show it to you.”

She stopped walking and faced Jinwon. “Close your eyes and give me your hands.”

      “Why?” he said as he did what he was told. Stephanie took out the pregnancy test and placed it on his hands. As soon as he felt it, his heart started beating so rapidly. He opened his eyes and looked down, and there it was, a plus sign staring at him.

For a second he could not process the sign that he was seeing. He was too speechless and shocked that this was right in front of him. However, when the adrenaline started kicking in, he laughed with wide eyes and stared at his fiancée’s beaming face. At that moment, she became the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

      “Fany-ah!” he shouted out of joy and squeezed her tightly, chuckling and screaming hysterically through the night. “I-I-i’m not dreaming, right? This is for real, right?”

      “Yes, Jinwon,” Stephanie chuckled. “You’re not dreaming.” He continued to laugh from the immense joy until he started tearing up. With tears in his eyes, he cupped Stephanie’s face and said, “I love you.” He kissed her deeply and hugged her again. Stephanie was overwhelmed seeing him in tears and started crying herself.

      “I don’t even know why I feel so happy right now,” Jinwon sniffed. “I certainly don’t think that I am even ready, and we haven’t even started thinking about this for this year, but I’m just so, so glad!”

      “I was honestly nervous,” Stephanie cried. “With the things that happened, I was afraid that you would feel indifferent but seeing you now so happy about this, I’m overjoyed as well.”

      “Have you told Eunji yet?”

      “Yes, Eunji knows. Jessica as well. And I think Jessica has told Junsu and Jaejun too to let you go home early tonight.”

      “Ha… Ha!” He laughed as he finally understood why Junsu had such a strange grin earlier. “Oh man, this is making my heart beat so fast. I’ve never felt this rush before. I can’t believe this is happening. I’m… I’m gonna be a dad???”

      “You’re already a dad remember?” Stephanie chuckled.

      “Right,” Jinwon sheepishly smiled and laughed. “I guess the right words to say are… I’m… I’m gonna have my second child! Our second child!”

      “You’re not going to lose your memories this time around again, right?” Stephanie joked.

      “I’ll pray to God I won’t,” he chuckled.

 


 

      That Sunday, at the church’s youth group, not many people came because of finals week. There wasn’t even a band set up for that week so everything was very laid-back. The group was fairly smaller than usual so Hyungsoo was able to gather everyone to sit in a small circle on the floor. As they were about to start, Minjae came in with Kibum and Jonghyun.

      “Ah! Minjae, nice to see you with a new friend! And nice to meet you again, Kibum!” Hyungsoo said and Eunji glanced at the door. She didn’t expect to see Kibum here at all especially with Jonghyun trailing behind him.

      “Um, we’ve met before?” Kibum wondered.

      “Of course! You were Eunji’s friend and neighbor, right?” Hearing this, Eunji hung her head low and avoided eye-contact. Kibum was always included in her prayers every time they shared concerns on their youth group so many of them there knew who he was. However this week, Eunji has not yet said anything about their small argument and she didn’t know how to deal with her feelings with him there today. Why did Minjae even bring them here today of all weeks? What is that guy thinking?

      Kibum glanced at Eunji and saw that she refused to look towards his direction. He was aching to hug her, to sit beside her and to say sorry, but the timing was not yet right. He wanted to settle them all privately.

      “Jonghyun! Wow, what brings you here?” Jinki stood up and greeted him.

      “Oh, you know, I just wanted to check this out. And Minjae convinced me enough to come because he said you guys needed musicians for your band.”

      “Ah! Recruiting band members without my permission, I see,” Hyungsoo said and Minjae sheepishly smiled.

      “Am I not allowed to?” Minjae asked.

      “Of course you’re free to invite whoever you want here, but I decide who goes into the band, okay? Now come, you three. What’s your name again?”

      “Jonghyun.”

      “Well then, Jonghyun and Kibum. Sit wherever you’d like.”

      As the three were finally seated on the floor near the corner, Hyungsoo started, “So you guys, I didn’t expect the group to have such few members this week, but now, I actually think it’s a pretty nice atmosphere to have a few people. I honestly am busy myself preparing for my own wedding and I haven’t properly prepared anything to teach you guys today. Jessica and Yohan ditched me last minute because of some business they have to take care of for the couple’s conference, so you guys are left today with no structured schedule. If I feel compelled to preach to y’all, I will. But anyway, I was just thinking that for today, we can just talk to each other about how your week has been and discuss how God has been working through it. Share some stuff, some verses, some encouragement. If you don’t have anything to say, especially Jonghyun and Kibum, if you guys are just checking out what this group is all about, you are totally free to ask anything you’d like. We’re friendly people so we’re not gonna attack you on anything, right guys?”

      “Yeah~” everyone replied.

      “Now, who’s willing to share first?”

      “I just got into the university that I’ve been applying to,” Junmyun said. “Praise God for that. And it’s my first choice, too.”

      “Nice!!” Jinki gave a thumbs up.

      “Ohhh, you smartass!” Josephine exclaimed. “I knew you were gonna get it!”

      “You can’t say ass in church,” Henry elbowed Josephine.

      “Fine, smart ‘donkey…’” Josephine scowled. “If only you read KJV. If only…”

      “K-ARTS, was it?” Hyungsoo asked and Junmyun nodded. “Amazing! That’s great to hear. What are you taking again?”

      “Music engineering.”

      “Wow, I wish I took that in college,” Hyungsoo said.

      “I uh… I have a crazy one, guys,” Eunji said as she shyly fiddled with a pen. “I don’t know if you know,” she pointed at Hyungsoo. “But you guys… I’m gonna be a big sister!”

      “Whaaat!! Really??” Yue squealed. “OHhhhhhh my gooooaaasshhhh!!!”

      “WAIT, STEPHANIE?!” Hyungsoo exclaimed. “SHE’S PREGNANT? HOW COME I DO NOT KNOW OF THIS? MAN THOSE IDIOTS ALWAYS TELL ME LAST.”

      “We just found out two days ago,” Eunji said. “They’re still deciding how to declare it and they’re thinking of saying it at their wedding but I give you guys the privilege to hear it first.”

      “Wow! Congratulations!” Minjae smiled excitedly. “That’s great!”

      “Wait, who was her mom marrying again?” Jonghyun whispered Minjae.

      “Mr. Kim Jinwon. It’s her actual dad,” Kibum said.

      “I thought he was dead?”

      “It’s a long story. We can tell you later,” Minjae smiled.

      “When will you step up your game, Leader Soo?” Henry smirked.

      “I’m not married yet!” Hyungsoo scoffed. “I mean I guess it’d be nice to do so since I’m basically a reserved man now, but I’d actually love to wait patiently, thank you very much!” he raised his chin proudly.

      “That is so wonderful though, Eunji! Like man, I still can’t believe how your parents were reconciled after such a long time. Anything is really possible!” said a girl named Christelle who was part of the international group with Henry and Josephine.

      “Honestly!” Alicia, who was also one of the international students, agreed.

      “Wait, your parents aren’t married yet, aren’t they?” Sungyeol wondered.

      “Yeah, my parents are wild,” Eunji laughed. “They have almost zero self-control when it comes to each other. They’re engaged of course, but I think that’s enough for them to think they’re already married.”

      “Oh, they’re young and in-love! Let them have that freedom! At least they got together again!” Yue grinned widely.

      “That’s what everybody says. You don’t know my pain!” Eunji sighed and chuckled.

      “We’ll definitely be praying for your parents,” Hyungsoo noted. “Your parents, they really haven’t changed much since they were teenagers—in the area of love, at least. But yes, all the best for them.”

      “I can see that,” Eunji laughed.

      “But isn’t it interesting how you will be my family soon as well, Eunji?”

      “Huh?”

      “I’m getting married to your mom’s cousin!” Hyungsoo said and everyone smiled, finding it all interesting to know.

      “Ohh yeaah!” Eunji said. “Your future kids will be my second-cousins!”

      Hyungsoo then turned to the other students and many of them asked for prayers for their exams. Soon enough, all of them started ranting and complaining about how hard their studies were and it seemed it wouldn’t end until Hyungsoo cut them all off to move on to the next topic. He then turned to Kibum and Jonghyun. “How about you guys? Do you have anything you can share?”

      “Oh, we’re not really Christians,” Kibum hesitated.

      “Hm, I see. Then how about this… What are some good things that happened this week that you are thankful for? Just anything that made you happy or otherwise relieved, motivated, energized? If you have anything to rant about like the other kids here, you’re free to do so as well.”

      “Oh. If you put it that way,” Kibum wondered. When he glanced at Jonghyun, he smiled, “I… I’ve started to remember my friends.” Eunji looked up and her eyes met Kibum’s. He quickly avoided her gaze unable to take in her reaction to the news.

      “Oh! Really?” Hyungsoo eyes lit up. He patted Eunji’s back and said, “Your girlfriend here has been praying for that every week—for your well-being and memories. How amazing is that to get her prayer answered!”

      Eunji timidly hung her head low embarrassed that Hyungsoo had to say that in front of Kibum, and even claiming that she was his girlfriend—something she really hasn’t officially told anyone for she wasn’t so sure where they both stood. Aside from that, she knew Kibum did not have any belief on these things so she wished Hyungsoo would be a bit more cautious with his words.

      Kibum, on the other hand, was very astonished by this. He was hit with a new rain of emotions. Suddenly, he had so many questions. Did Eunji really pray for him often? If so, how often did she really pray for him? How hard did she plead for his life to her God? To him, all his memories concerning his friends came back like a snap of a finger. He only thought that it was coincidence but now, was her prayer part of it? The power it held scared him yet fascinated him at the same time. It was amazing, truly amazing. But above all, he was amazed that Eunji would even dedicate her time talking to her God about him. His eyes started to tear up, feeling overwhelmed by the fact that Eunji loved her to that extent, but he tried holding it in. Eunji must not see her like this.

      “I take it you guys are together here today as best friends, right?” Hyungsoo pointed to Kibum and Jonghyun. Eunji had often told about how Kibum didn’t pay much attention to his friends. She never shared it with the whole group, but she did share it often with her trusted youth leader.

      Jonghyun was startled catching onto the fact that Hyungsoo meant something more by that, but nevertheless, he nodded, “Yes.”

      “Nice,” Hyungsoo smiled knowingly. Then he sprang up to get his Bible. “Ah! Okay, I think I know what we can talk about today. Why don’t you guys turn your Bibles to Genesis 42-45?”

      They read about Joseph’s life that told the story about him reconciling with his brothers. They had a very interesting discussion concerning reconciling and forgiveness and Kibum, Eunji, and Jonghyun could not help but feel like all of this was a topic meant for them.

      At the end of the discussion, they prayed for each other, and then hung out playing music and board games. While Henry, Josephine, and the other international students were setting up the instruments, Minjae took this as a chance to help his friends settle their conflict now before they start having fun.

      Minjae came up to Eunji while she was thanking Hyungsoo for all that he did today. “Eunji, can I borrow you for a moment?”

      “What for?”

      Minjae glanced at Kibum and Jonghyun who were talking in the corner. “You know what for,” he said.

      Eunji took a deep breath and sighed. She didn’t know if it was right for them to reconcile so quickly, but they just discussed about reconciliation with the group a while ago. She said, “Are you sure it’s okay?” Minjae nodded.

      All of them went outside the boiler room and into the hall. As soon as the doors to the boiler room were closed, Jonghyun fell on his knees before Eunji. Kibum didn’t expect this from him and immediately followed suit.

      “Wh-what is this?” Eunji was flustered and looked around the hall if anyone was watching but they were the only ones there.

      “I’m sorry, Eunji,” Jonghyun spoke first. On the other hand, Kibum bit his lips slightly shaking at her presence. He only had to say the same thing, but he was still so ashamed of how he acted for the past few days.

      Jonghyun didn’t even tell her what he was saying sorry for but Eunji had already guessed that this was about the rumors concerning many things about Kibum’s loyalty and friendships. “Wha- I- No,” Eunji stammered and went down on her knees as well. “It’s me who should be sorry.”

      “No, no, Eunji, I’m sorry for being bitter towards you,” Jonghyun said. “I realized that you’ve only been trying your best and to hold a wrong perception of you is wrong of me.”

      “It’s okay,” Eunji said.

      “Don’t try to take all the blame, Jonghyun,” Kibum suddenly spoke. He took a deep breath and mustered up the courage to say sorry as well. Kibum started sobbing, “I’m the one who’s been stupid in all of this. You guys did nothing wrong. All you guys tried to do was give me the best and I took great advantage of that. I was… I was selfish. I know that brought you both pain, and if anyone who should be sorry here, it’s me. I’m sorry. I’m sorry…” Eunji saw how remorseful and miserable he was that she couldn’t help but immediately pull him to a tight embrace. Her heart could not take seeing him suffer. But the other truth is she just missed him so much even though it hasn’t been a week since they blew up at each other. She just wanted all of this to end quickly.

      “I don’t deserve all of your love.” Kibum still managed to say as he cried bitterly on Eunji’s shoulder. “I’m sorry I’m not the person I was supposed to be.”

      Jonghyun stood up and said, “Even if you don’t deserve it, we still want to give it anyway. That’s what friends are for. Even when we know your flaws, we still stick by you. And we forgive you.”

      Eunji wiped away his tears and said, “All of the things you’ve said before that hurt us, that’s not you anymore. You should remember that. When you admit your wrong and say sorry, you will always be renewed in my eyes. I know how hard it is to say sorry, and you did well Kibum. Let’s be happy from now on. I love you.”

      She kissed him on his lips. Jonghyun and Minjae were startled to see that happen before them and they both glanced at each other smirking. Eunji then hugged Kibum once more to calm him down.

      “You definitely need Eunji in your life,” Jonghyun said and Eunji realized that she just kissed Kibum deeply before the two guys. She felt embarrassed and so did Kibum.

      “Wait—did I just do that?” Eunji blinked and she and Kibum burst into laughter on the floor. Their laugh echoed so loudly that Hyungsoo opened the door to the boiler room to check them.

      “What’s all the ruckus out here? Don’t you guys wanna jaammm?”

      “Oh, nothing, we’ll be right there,” Minjae chuckled.


Chapter 19:


 

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A M N E S I A: Chapter 17

Chapter 1: First Love Nocturne

Chapter 2: Date?

Chapter 3: Daydreaming Heartbeat

Chapter 4: Closer

Chapter 5: Are You Listening?

Chapter 6: Confusing

Chapter 7: I Miss You

Chapter 8: 안녕

Chapter 9: Friends

Chapter 10: Uncomfortable

Chapter 11: Sleepless

Chapter 12: Unpredictable

Chapter 13: Warmth

Chapter 14: Ready

Chapter 15: Reason to Love

Chapter 16: Occupied

Chapter 17:

Mistake(n)

      After waking up from an afternoon siesta, Jinwon stared at the ceiling of Stephanie’s bedroom pondering about the dreams he had recently seen. Most of the scenes he saw were mostly random, but they were all from his teenage years. There was one with Yohan and Hyungsoo arguing about a cup of spicy rice cakes, scenes of him sitting beside JooHyun playing the piano with him and learning the Chopin song, Jessica dragging him to go shopping with her to cool off because she was angry about someone, and a clear memory of him strolling with Stephanie down a quiet street while kicking pebbles trying to compete whose rock would go farther. A lot of them were very vivid as if he was reliving the moments again, but they were all getting jumbled together making it very confusing to him to sort them out.

      “Are these really what happened in the past?” he would ask himself. He was recalling so many things day by day, but just how many of them were 100% accurate? A lot of these scenes would just cut off and jump to another without him noticing like it all happened in one day. Surely, there must be a point when his brain has started making up stories with altered plots? The memories vs. what his hearts desires. What were the dreams and what were the realities? Did they really happen, or were they just what his heart desired to see?

      He turned his gaze back to the woman of his dreams. Every memory relating to her always had the clearest film. Her rosy scent lingers as he dreams, her hands’ cold touch make the hairs on his arm rise up, and her brown hair brushes so lightly and silky like feather on his fingertips. Maybe it’s because when he dreams about her, she sleeps right beside him. The reality enhances the dream, the memory. Although his dreams with her were mostly sweet, living that dream awake was always so much better.

      Stephanie’s eyes started to flutter open and Jinwon touched the round tip of her nose. She chuckled softly, wrinkled her nose at him, and then snuggled closer to him. Jinwon kissed her forehead, wrapped his arms around her, and squeezed her close like a comfy pillow. This was reality, he thought. He should give her a hug whenever he has the chance. 15 years of separation needs to be replaced with as much intimacy as possible.

      “You’re awake,” Stephanie said and closed her eyes again to better feel his warmth.

      “A weird dream woke me up,” Jinwon said as he caressed her hair.

      “Weird dream?”

      “I mean weird dreams. Or random memories. I can’t really tell these days.”

      “Oh? Like what? Tell me.”

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A M N E S I A: Chapter 16

Chapter 1: First Love Nocturne

Chapter 2: Date?

Chapter 3: Daydreaming Heartbeat

Chapter 4: Closer

Chapter 5: Are You Listening?

Chapter 6: Confusing

Chapter 7: I Miss You

Chapter 8: 안녕

Chapter 9: Friends

Chapter 10: Uncomfortable

Chapter 11: Sleepless

Chapter 12: Unpredictable

Chapter 13: Warmth

Chapter 14: Ready

Chapter 15: Reason to Love

Chapter 16:

Occupied

 

       Stephanie did not expect him to propose at all. She really thought that he had bad news for her and trembled all day from anticipating it. How was he able to change his mind? Just yesterday, they were feeling awkward watching a variety show talk about a troublesome marriage, now he wanted to marry her? She worried about too many things and they were all for nothing!

       Since Jinwon was left hanging, he nervously added, “I’m sorry it took me too long to do this. I know you’ve waited and waited, and I honestly couldn’t forgive myself for telling you I wasn’t ready. B-but I know now without a doubt that the only thing I really want is to be with you, and I…”

       Stephanie got to overwhelmed that her eyes brimmed heavily with tears of joy. She cupped her hands on his cheeks and kissed him passionately to shut him up. Jinwon became startled for a moment as he felt Stephanie’s lips hot on his. He could still go on with a whole speech, but it seemed like Stephanie didn’t really need that. “I’ll take that as a yes then,” he thought and closed his eyes to kiss her back.

       “Okay, hold on for a sec,” Jinwon said, feeling things were getting heated up before he could even give her the ring. “Will you give me your hand?” Stephanie shyly tucked her chin in as she handed her left hand to Jinwon. Jinwon slid the cold, silver ring on her ring finger and the diamond sparkled before her eyes. She giggled and grinned like a little girl seeing the pinkish glow. Her now fiancé chuckled seeing how adorable she looked raving over her favorite color. Her obsession towards the pink diamond almost took her out of reality almost in the same way he obsessed about new guitars. She looked too cute at the moment that he could not help but tease,

       “It looks like you love that pink diamond more than me now.”

       “Of course not,” Stephanie chuckled and hugged him tightly. “I love you more than pink and diamonds.”

***

       The door swung open in Stephanie’s home with a loud slam and the couple hurriedly took off their drenched coats as they made-out like there was no tomorrow. The undressed each other from their winter skins while their faces stayed distinctly close together. When shirts and jeans were the only covering layer left, Jinwon stretched his leg backwards to kick the door shut without taking his naughty eyes all over her body. Stephanie seductively beckoned Jinwon to come closer as she clasped onto his shirt, and when he moved towards her, he extended his arm to warm himself up by tracing the curve of her hips. Then he wrapped his arms around her without warning, making her body crash onto him. She bit her lip finding that move so arousing. Slowly, their lips touch again, sinking in the sweetness of the moment. After a week of not being so engulfed in each other, this was absolutely bliss. How good it was to be this close together again! It wasn’t long before all the cravings of their bodies spiked up with no restrictions and they almost wouldn’t care if they ate each other up outside of their bedroom.

       “Ahem,” Eunji cleared her throat and the couple’s hearts jumped as if they just heard a ghost. “Are you guys filming a Hollywood movie there or something? You guys know I’m here, right?” She was lying on the couch reading a book so quietly that they did not notice she was there. She honestly did not care about what was going on and planned not to disturb them at first, but it sounded like they didn’t have the patience to at least run to somewhere more private.

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A M N E S I A: Chapter 15

Chapter 1: First Love Nocturne

Chapter 2: Date?

Chapter 3: Daydreaming Heartbeat

Chapter 4: Closer

Chapter 5: Are You Listening?

Chapter 6: Confusing

Chapter 7: I Miss You

Chapter 8: 안녕

Chapter 9: Friends

Chapter 10: Uncomfortable

Chapter 11: Sleepless

Chapter 12: Unpredictable

Chapter 13: Warmth

Chapter 14: Ready

Chapter 15:

Reason to Love

      There Eunji was standing with a book close to her chest watching Kibum from a distance. He was in the lounge of the rehabilitation center and this was the first time she would be visiting him after he woke up from his coma. No one can deny how nervous she was with her fingers unconsciously brushing through the ends of the book. She had her expectations low for this encounter since she knew very well that memory loss was just so common. To her, it’s not going to be about their past memories at all. She figured she just had to start again.

      Beside her stood Junmyun, her good Oppa from church who was also holding a book. She didn’t want to be completely alone to face Kibum. She didn’t want to drag along her friends from school either. If there was anyone that would be perfect to bring along, it was Junmyun, and he was glad to be invited by Eunji. He used to volunteer helping the people in the rehabilitation center. Situations similar to Kibum have occurred in the past and he knew a thing or two about how to entertain and keep patients like him company.

      “Oh, I think they’re your first guest that aren’t your family, Kibum,” The nurse said. Slouching Kibum did not reply back. He just stared off into a distance, ignoring everything that the nurse was saying. He didn’t even bother to bat an eye at anything or anyone. He just had no reaction.

      The nurse got up and greeted the two guests. She informed them that Kibum has indeed lost his memories and is going through a rehabilitation program at the moment. The nurse also told them that he has not yet been taught about whom he’s friends were so they should be careful about approaching him with certain things.

      “We understand,” Junmyun bowed his head.

      Eunji just simply nodded and the nurse left them.

      “Hello,” Junmyun friendly greeted Kibum as he pulled up a seat for Eunji. Kibum didn’t pay any attention. He still looked at the wide windows of the building, avoiding contact of their faces.

      “Hi…” Eunji awkwardly sat across Kibum on the round table. Junmyun took the seat beside Kibum.

      “I know you can’t really read properly yet… but I figured you might want to practice with this book. You’ll probably like it,” Junmyun said, sliding the book “Easiest Ways to Bring Back Memories.”

      “Oh, what?” Eunji’s eyebrows crumpled and she picked up Junmyun’s book. “My dad read this. He said it sucked.”

      “Really?” Junmyun tilted his head. “I thought it was pretty nice… I actually reminisced while reading this book.”

      “Forget about that book,” Eunji gave the book to Junmyun and slid her own book in front of Kibum. “This is much better.

      Kibum was a bit startled by how Junmyun and Eunji were acting. Other than the nurses and doctors, the people that visited him so far introduced themselves as someone expecting to be remembered. He was fed with facts and information everyday even though he knew nothing about them. He totally hated it. But what’s with these teenagers all of a sudden? A book? Aren’t they going to introduce themselves? He glanced at Eunji’s book and slowly read the title: “The Tale of the Neon Lights.”

      He decided to look up and see who this girl was. He blinked and remembered it was the same girl who he saw the moment he woke up. It was the girl that had been giving him comfort the whole time he was trapped in his coma.

      “W-why…” he stammered, trying hard to ask why she’s bringing this book to him. The title did seem familiar.

      “It’s pretty boring here, yeah?” Junmyun spoke and Kibum looked at him. “We’re not allowed to bring any games because they said it could stress you out so this is the least we could do. Besides, books are nice.”

      “Not much the reading part,” Eunji shyly said. “What’s nice is the story.”

      “Hey, reading is nice. It makes you smarter,” Junmyun said.

      Kibum closed his eyes and shook his head. For the first time, he wanted to know who this girl was. “W-who… are you?” He roughly stammered as he stared at Eunji.

      “O-oh, m-me?” Eunji stuttered. Junmyun and Eunji exchanged glances. “Right… I’m Eunji.”

      “Eunji?” Kibum repeated as the name echoed in his brain. He remembered waking up and instantly having the name Eunji click on his head. Could she perhaps be someone he knew well from before?

      “I’m Junmyun,” Junmyun pitched in. Kibum gave him a simple smile. That name didn’t click to anything.

      “Can you… read for me?” Kibum said to Eunji all of a sudden. Since he remembered her voice clearly, it excited him a bit. He just wanted to hear Eunji’s voice for as long as possible to gain some kind of peace of mind. Staying in the rehabilitation center has been driving him crazy and it has only been a week.

      “H-huh? Sure,” Eunji nodded and smiled. She picked up the Tale of the Neon Lights, tucked her hair back to her ears, and took a deep breath. Before she started, she noticed the corner of Kibum’s mouth go up. He was smiling for the first time ever since they arrived. It gave her a bubbly feeling. It was the same smile that made her realize she liked him that one time they hung out in the living room. It was that same smile that made her hang onto him even though he was a silly, unusual, and outgoing kid.

      And so, she started, “In a time, place, and universe far from the planet of earth, there stood a tree…”

      As Eunji read, Junmyun’s reactions were priceless. He was shocked and thrilled at every scene in only the first chapter. This amused Kibum very much. Besides, Kibum could not understand some words that came out of Eunji’s mouth anyway because of his destroyed memory. Still, he enjoyed spending this time with them. Well, he did… until three nervous teenagers were pushing each other towards his table. The group was two boys, and a girl. One boy was tall and sport-bodied, the other, sleek and somewhat smaller, and the girl was pretty yet tall for a girl’s average height.

      “Is he even okay?” “Shh! He looks fine. Just shut up and take it easy.” “He doesn’t look so pleasant to see us though… I mean look, he’s staring at us right now!”

      Eunji heard the uneasy whispers of these three teenagers. She stopped reading as he noticed Kibum’s attention was not on her anymore. She turned her head to see who it was. It was Jinri, Minho, the athletic guy in school, and Jonghyun, the sleek and handsome guy, famous for winning most of the singing competitions next to Eunji. They were Kibum’s set of best friends. She didn’t know them well, but Kibum did talk about them a few times before.

      “Eunji, Junmyun Oppa, you’re here?” Jinri saw Eunji and Junmyun.

      “Oh… yeah,” Eunji pitied them because Kibum does not even remember them. She knows the pain of losing a friend will hit Jinri, Minho, and Jonghyun harder than she did. They have known him since they were kids. It will be hard for them to believe all the memories were erased because of one accident.

      “We were just about to leave,” Eunji said knowing the three would want some time with Kibum. Besides, she was content to have at least half an hour with him. It was a satisfying to see his bright face again alive and breathing—talking and moving.

      “Already? Are you sure you don’t want to stay with us?” Jinri kindly suggested.

      “I’d rather not,” Eunji sighed and wryly smiled. “Besides, you guys are his close friends. I don’t want to steal your time with him.”

      “Don’t leave… please,” Kibum suddenly spoke, his voice much clearer than before. The three turned to Eunji and Junmyun. Eunji turned to Kibum. She didn’t want to stay, but Kibum’s haggard and pleading eyes dropped a stone in her heart. She felt trapped by his request and she could not resist it. This was the very first time Kibum had pleaded her to do something. All the times they have spent together, she was the one making the requests and Kibum could never resist. Now she wondered if this was how Kibum had felt saying yes to her irresistible eyes when his whole being wanted to say no. With a slight nod, Eunji and Junnmyun sat back to their seats. The three slowly followed, sitting themselves around Kibum.

      “Hi Kibum,” Jinri greeted. “I’m Jinri and this is Minho and Jonghyun. We’re your friends. You know us, right?” she carefully said.

      Kibum turned his eyes to the fingers on his lap and sat silently after Jinri stopped speaking. “No, and I don’t care.” he thought bitterly. He doesn’t even know who he was and they expect him to know them? It frustrated him that his peaceful storybook reading with Junmyun and Eunji were interrupted by another session of “Do you remember me?” It’s already sickening enough to memorize details about his family, now there’s already new batch of people added to the queue?

      Silence fell over them and an awkward atmosphere enveloped them. It felt deafening and painful being in it. Having a feeling that Kibum did not want to answer, Suho said, “The nurse told us that he lost his memories for the time being.”

      The three exchanged shocked glances and no one could speak a word for a few moments. In disbelief, they started telling stories to Kibum about the things they did in the past thinking they were impossible to forget, but Kibum could only shake his head to say he recalls nothing. It was too hard for them to believe that they even joked around that maybe he was pranking them. Kibum was not pleased with being accused of this but tried not to give a reaction.

      Eunji, who only observed the situation, suddenly spoke after noticing Kibum’s bitter expression. “Maybe you guys shouldn’t push it like that,” she gently said. “Memory loss is a serious thing.”

      The three of them turned to Eunji and their spirits withered down. Kibum was denying everything, after all. There is nothing else to do but to accept the truth. However, after taking it in as the reality, they began to tell him stories not to prove that he remembers something, but to help him remember things. Kibum’s mood did not change.

      Although Eunji tried to give Kibum a bit of a break, it seemed like the three wouldn’t stop until he recalls something. It worried her that this could annoy and stress him out even though he did not show it. The pressure was just too much, and all these information being shot at him definitely won’t stick in just one day. On the other hand, she also understood the grief that his friends were going through. It’s not easy to lose someone you thought would normally always be around. So who exactly was she supposed to pity in this situation? One thing was for sure, though. Taking sides in this situation will eventually cause some kind of trouble, and she will avoid doing so as much as possible.

***

      Every day, Eunji and Junmyun visited Kibum in the rehabilitation center. They brought books that Kibum used to read, shared some laughs and stories about their day in school, and cheered him up whenever he felt down.

      Eunji didn’t mention anything about their simple history together. She tried not to. All she wanted was to spend time with him—be friends with him all over again.

      Kibum, on the other hand, was still dying to know who she might be. The name Eunji always rang a bell in his mind. He couldn’t quite place why his heart thumped every time he heard that name. One thing was for sure, though. Eunji was the only one who was making him really happy.

      There he sat on the same round table in the rehabilitation center. Eunji was unavailable today and only Junmyun had the chance to visit. That didn’t bring him down. He was already quite comfortable with Junmyun. He was a fun guy to have around—a much more comfortable company than the people who always tried to make him remember things. He actually wished that Junmyun had been his brother in the past.

      “So, Kibum, how’s your progress going?” Junmyun asked as he flipped through some of the books he had given to Key.

      “I can read now,” he happily said. “I can write too.”

      “That’s brilliant!” Junmyun high-fived Kibum. “You’re progressing faster than I expected. You’ll probably be out here in no time!”

      “Thanks, Hyung,” he chuckled. “Let me read you something.” He picked up the Tale of the Neon Lights and flipped to a random page.

      “He waas in a st-state of confffussion. How was he suppposed to tell her “I love you” when he was not allowed to love? He was a guuaaardian angel, not a human being. He was not supposed to fall in love…” He started reading slowly like kids from kindergarten. Junmyun grinned widely like a mother who was hearing its child say words for the first time.

      “That’s all I can do. It’s too much effort reading the whole thing,” Kibum said.

      “That’s actually pretty great! You did great. The story though was a bit… hmm. What is this book about? I don’t think I’ve read this before or seen it anywhere in the stores,” Junmyun said, picking up the book.

      “Don’t ask me,” Kibum laughed. “Eunji is the one who owns that book.”

      “Oh right.” Junmyun looked at the book and started reading where he left off. He became curious to know what the plot was about and began reading quietly on his own. It became silent and Key didn’t want that.

      “Um… Hyung,” he began. He thought of something to talk about. Now that Eunji wasn’t here, maybe he could talk about her with Junmyun. “I would like to know who Eunji is.”

      “Eunji?” Suho glanced at Kibum then back to the book.

      “Yeah… I’ve been so curious to know who she is. Who is she in my life? Is she someone special?”

      “Special?” Junmyun chuckled. “You guys were not close friends the first time I saw you together, but I think she came to like you in time. Right now, all I know is that you are special to her.”

      “I am? Do you have a clue as to why?” Kibum asked.

      “I don’t know… she never really told me about her feelings. I just assume she likes you since it’s clearly written all over her face,” Junmyun chuckled. “Especially since she keeps visiting you here. That girl is not a charity type of girl until this happened to you!”

      “Do have a clue on how she started to like me?” Kibum asked.

      “I don’t know,” Junmyun wondered. “Hmm… oh, there was this one time,” he smiled.

      “What happened?”

      “Well, Eunji’s dad got into a car accident a few months ago. You, Eunji, and I witnessed it. She didn’t know he was his father yet at that time, but she was still so troubled about it. Only you were the one who stood beside her and comforted her in those days. I think she felt lonely during those times. You were the only one who could truly keep her company since your houses were both close to each other. I suppose that’s how it started. I don’t really know,” Junmyun shrugged.

      “So I was the one keeping her company during hard days?” Kibum wondered.

      “Yeah. Now, ever since you got into your coma, she’s been keeping you company—keeping you company on harder days,” Junmyun smiled.

      “So is she really the one singing to me while I was in my coma?” Kibum wondered.

      “I don’t know, but that’s probably her since she visited often. She has a lovely voice; I’m sure that’s her.”

      “I want to hear her sing again…”

      “I’m sure if you kindly ask her, she will sing for you.”

 

2 WEEKS LATER

      “I’m going to be released from this place tomorrow,” Kibum happily declared before Eunji headed for home.

      “Really? Wow, I’m so happy for you!” Eunji squealed and hugged him from excitement. “I can hardly believe you were like a vegetable just a month ago!”

      Kibum’s heart suddenly thumped louder and faster. Whatever he was feeling, he couldn’t understand, but he liked it… up until a sharp static sound entered his ears. His vision blurred and a vision of him under an umbrella kissing Eunji flashed before his eyes. There were also visions of him feeding some kind of dish to Eunji and even singing a song to her. He could not believe what he just saw. Now he was more curious than ever to know who Eunji really was.

      However, he brushed it off and focused on reality. “Eunji, do you have maybe some place we could go tomorrow to celebrate?”

      “Don’t you want to spend your first day out of here with your family?”

      “You’re my only friend,” Kibum pouted. “You’re the only one I know and feel comfortable with. Please,” he pleaded. Once again, Eunji could not turn him down.

      “Sure,” Eunji smiled. “I’ll take you somewhere.”

***

      It was a quiet afternoon in Stephanie’s house1. The variety show Happy Together was playing on TV but neither Jinwon nor Stephanie could continue watching it when one of the guests concern was about marriage. After the night back at the farm, things have turned awkward between them whenever marriage was mentioned. They also haven’t been latched onto each other as often before. They always sat on both ends of the couch with a huge gap between them. Although they still acted like everything was okay and normal between them, they haven’t been speaking their thoughts out clearly to each other anymore.

      Stephanie glanced at Jinwon and sighed. She knew this stale air shouldn’t continue between them. It just wasn’t right to drag on this silence but how was she supposed to stop it? Jinwon is very persistent when he doesn’t want to talk about something, especially when the topic is sensitive.  She could just ask him, but she feared that it would bother and eventually anger him. Was time really all that he needed? It’s just ridiculous considering how long they have been separated together. Was this really where all the waiting went—another season of waiting?

She picked up her phone and messaged Jessica.

      “—Jinwon doesn’t want to marry me.”

In less than five seconds, her best friend replied,

      “—Huh

      —qhat

      —WHAT??

      —are you serious

      —Youre not serious right??

      —Fany????????

      —DID HE SAY THAT?

      —WHAT DOES HE MEAN BY THAT OH MY GOSH WHAT

      —I SWEAR I’M GONNA KILL HIM

      —FIFTEEN FRIGGIN YEARS

      —U MEAN TO TELL ME U CRIED FOR NOTHING

      —I THOT U GUYS WERE IN LOVE???

      —Is he not in love???

      —GIRL

      —GILLR

      —WHAT BAUT EUNJI OH GOSH WHAT A DICK”

 

      Jessica’s texts went by too fast that Stephanie had a hard time butting in. Jinwon couldn’t help but be curious about who was causing those notification sounds.

      “Who are you texting?”

      “It’s just Jessica,” Stephanie casually said as she lowered the notification volume of her phone. Jinwon’s  worries were eased and he didn’t think any more about it.

      Before Jessica started swearing, Stephanie immediately sent,

      “—omg sica calm down pls

      —ok sorry he didn’t actually say that but kinda something like that…

      —We’re just kinda awkward right now because of something. Let’s talk at your house.”

 

***

      When Stephanie arrived at the Kwon apartment, Jessica was just about to finish washing the dishes and the lively kids were dancing along to a replay of an episode of Mnet countdown. Yoona was giving it her all as she flailed her arms about while her younger sister SooJung just stood on one spot while moving up and down with a doll clutched to her chest. Yoona kept trying to force SooJung to move more but the toddler didn’t want to budge at all, let alone even let her older sister take hold of her hand. When Stephanie was about to greet them, Yoona touched her little sister’s doll, causing SooJung to screech. Tiffany got startled and laughed her head off. Oh, what lovely sight it was to see that the house was really bright and noisy with the kids, unlike back at home when she could not even talk to Jinwon properly and Eunji who always drifted off because of Kibum.

      As soon as Stephanie and Jessica finished drying the dishes, Jessica said, “So, what’s the problem? What’s that about you being awkward with Jinwon?”

      “Okay, here’s the thing… he didn’t tell me he doesn’t want to marry me. That’s just what I think. But seriously, every time marriage gets brought up, it becomes so quiet between us, and it goes on for the rest of the day.”

      “Why? Haven’t you guys talked about it yet? You know eventually you guys have to face that.”

      “Yeah, yeah, I know. We did talk about it… for a moment, anyway,” Stephanie sighed. “And it was right before Sunny and Hyungsoo got engaged in front of our eyes, too.”

      “Oooh, that timing. What did he say?”

      “He said, and I quote, ‘I’m not ready. And I don’t know if I will ever be.’”

      “What? He really said that? After everything?” Jessica scoffed.

      “I don’t know his reason for it… When I asked why, he was way too vague and hesitant to tell me. I remember before that conversation was even brought up I was talking about my life back when I lived in Yuchiri. And in the middle of that conversation, he suddenly says how he regrets hurting me back then when he didn’t know I was pregnant and all that. But he said that wasn’t the reason either. I can’t figure out what is really going on. Now it’s like we’re together, but not really because it’s like there’s no more end goal for all the things we’re doing together.”

      “Gosh, if he’s cheating on you, I’ll be the first one to kill him,” Jessica mumbled.

      “Cheating!? No way! How can you even think that of him? I don’t think that’s even possible after everything!”

      “You just told me you couldn’t figure him out. Now you’re telling me it’s impossible for him to cheat on you? He’s been gone from your life for 15 years, for goodness sake! How would you know if he’s keeping a side-chick from you or something all this time?”

      Stephanie opened her mouth to argue but she shut it immediately not knowing what to say. Jessica has a point but it just didn’t fit Jinwon’s loyal and careful personality. She lowered her head and replied, “Still, out of all things, cheating would never be his reason to feel that way.”

      “If you say so… But I’m just wondering, have you even talked or I don’t know, wondered carefully about what bothered him about marriage? I remember I myself was quite against it too.”

      “I guess I got scared to ask him because he told me he might never be ready and he was very hesitant to say anything more after that… it’s just so awkward if I bring it up and I’m scared he might show or say something I fear if I press on. But did you really feel that way, too? What was your reason?”

      “I felt like I didn’t deserve Yohan,” Jessica said. “I felt like I will never be able to make him as happy as her past girlfriends did.”

      “Really? And I thought all this time you always wanted him for yourself.”

      “Yeah, and that’s how I used to think for a long time. I always thought I deserved him. I always thought I was better than all of his girlfriends. And I guess, if I think about it now, yeah, I am better than all of them since I’m now married to him,” Jessica giggled. “But anyway, there was a time when I thought I was the worst for him.”

      “Is it because you guys fought a lot?”

      “Yeah, we were on-and-off for a long time because I was very stubborn and he was a little naïve. I mean I guess he did have his own mistakes towards me too, but I still felt like my mistakes towards him were far worse. So I thought he deserved someone better. With us breaking up many times, I thought we were not meant for each other.”

      “Jinwon and I, though… we haven’t really fought much,” Stephanie said. “Not yet, at least…”

      “Hm… Then look at it this way… don’t you think he’s a little pressured?”

      “Pressured?”

      “I mean, c’mon, everyone gets pressured at some point at the mention of marriage. After all, it’s not just about marrying one person—you have to consider the partner’s family as your family, too. That’s what makes marriage so special and also a very hard thing to commit to. Yohan had no problem getting my parents approval because apparently Dad kind of already gave him his blessings at 18 without me even knowing about it, and it’s crazy to think how we haven’t even started dating at that age… But anyway, I didn’t have it easy and was scared to marry Yohan because his mother didn’t like me. Because Yohan and I had a long and tiring history being together, of course she didn’t want his son to hurt over and over again because of me. So trying to prove to her that I’ll be a good wife was a big burden to bear. I thought I might disappoint her. With your situation, even though he doesn’t have to worry about any of your parents’ approval, he still has to worry about Eunji, and Eunji is not only your daughter. Remember, Eunji is his daughter, too.”

      “But Jinwon gets along with Eunji better than he does with me so what’s there to worry about?”

      “Yeah, okay, but what I’m trying to say is that Jinwon wants to be a good father to her or a good husband to you. It’s not just about getting along well with both of you. He wants to treat you both well.”

      Stephanie slumped into her seat and nodded, fully understanding what she was saying. Jinwon always wanted to be at his best in everything that he does, and treating her and Eunji is no different. “But being perfect is not important,” Stephanie thought out loud. “If we fight along the way, then we’ll work it out. If he hurts me, we’ll work it out. That’s how we’ll get to know and understand each other better, don’t you think? Besides, he has already been good to me and Eunji. He doesn’t have to prove himself more.”

      “See? There you go! Tell him that. But also maybe he wants to prove it not just to the both of you, but to himself? After all, it seems like he’s the only one who thinks he’s not good enough,” Jessica said. “Still, I think it’s a good thing that he’s thinking these things. He’s just questioning his priorities and his own abilities. When he gets past all that and makes up his mind, his decision won’t change so easily.”

      Jessica then rested her chin on her hand and said, “I’m telling you from experience, Fany-ah. If he truly loves you, he will come back. He’ll man up and this waiting won’t go on forever even if you think it will. Don’t worry.”

      “Do you think he truly loves me?” Stephanie pouted. “Why would he even say that he won’t ever be ready to marry me? Even if he was so conscious about what he can’t do for us, saying that he can’t marry me is basically as close as breaking up with me at this day and age. If not now, then when will it ever be the right time?”

      “Okay, look. If he does break up with you, remember, I’ll kill him for you and I’ll make sure the whole world will be against him.” Jessica said. Stephanie just scoffed. “But don’t think too much about the negatives yet. All you have to do is give him some more time to think it all out. He probably knows that it’s taken both of you too long to be together, and he probably knows how upset you may be about what he’s doing. He’s the overthinking type after all and he views things from everyone’s point of view while trying to stay true to himself. Although it’s not always good for him to overthink, it’s, I don’t know… naturally necessary for his heart and mind? Anyway, while it’s important to give him a time to think, it’s also important that you talk to him about it. You both won’t get anywhere good keeping your thoughts from each other.”

      Stephanie nodded her head and decided to do as her best friend advised. But then Jessica said, “In the meantime, why don’t you try asking yourself the same things, too?”

      “Hm? About what?”

      “Why do you love him? What’s your reason? Why are you holding onto him? You know, it just can’t be him questioning these things.”

      “Why do I have to do that? I already know that I love him without a doubt. You know I can’t love anyone else but him.”

      “Yeah, I know, you’re crazy about him since high-school,” Jessica rolled her eyes. “But why do you love him? Is it because of the past? Is it because of Eunji? Is it because you’re getting old and you won’t find anyone else? What’s the reason? You have to think about it carefully, and list it down if you have to. The important thing is you have to be true to yourself. What’s really the thing that’s bringing you to him and is it right to love him that way? If you don’t ask yourself that now, you’ll get yourself in a bind at some point.”

      Stephanie took a deep breath and sighed. She hasn’t really thought of why she loved Jinwon or why she stuck to him. Ever since her heart raced that night singing with him at Xiah Dragon Noodles, she never wanted to let him go ever again. It was a mysterious feeling she couldn’t even understand. It was simply because of love, she thought.

***

      When Eunji arrived home, Jinwon noticed that her youthful spirit still hasn’t come back to her. He was starting to miss her smile the more he saw her tired eyes every single day. Stephanie had been trying to cheer her up, but nothing ever seems to work. And if Stephanie can’t cheer her up, then what more can he do? It was too easy to think that he won’t be able to lift her daughter’s spirits up but too hard to bear seeing her gloomy heart every time he sees her. He sat there on the couch debating whether he should let this slide again or whether he should finally do something. He figured he should try to do something about it now than to wait for Stephanie to take more action. He climbed up the stairs and heaved a big sigh. He leaned on Eunji’s doorway and knocked. Eunji looked up.

      “You okay?” he nervously said. Fortunately, his trembling voice was not obvious.

      “Huh?” Eunji blinked and wondered what he meant by that. She glanced at the mirror from her bed to check if her face showed tiredness or anything that Jinwon might assume was not okay. “Why do you ask?”

      “It’s just… you look exhausted,” Jinwon sighed and crossed his arms.

      “No,” Eunji nonchalantly shook her head. “I’m perfectly fine. I’m not tired,” she smiled.

      “Eunji… what’s wrong with you these days? You don’t seem to be… you,” Jinwon said.

      Eunji paused for a moment thinking of how true his assumption was. However she did not want him to know it and tilted her head. “What makes you say that?”

      “I don’t know… How’s Kibum?”

      Eunji was a bit taken aback at how good he was at guessing the core of her problem. She tried to reply in the most nonchalant way, “Kibum’s alright. He’s going to be released from the hospital finally.”

      “That’s good! How do you feel about all of it?” Jinwon softly asked.

      “Me?”

      “Yeah.”

      “I’m… I’m happy of course,” she said and turned her eyes back to her phone to avoid eye contact. Jinwon could sense how hesitant she was and debated whether or not to continue. But he clenched his fist and took a deep breath. He shouldn’t back out now.

      “Eunji, isn’t it crazy how we’re so alike?” he said. Eunji turned her eyes back to him trying to guess where this conversation was suddenly going.

      “There was a point in my life when a person really close to me hurt me while trying to love me. But since that person claimed it was all because of love, and because I loved that person so much, I couldn’t speak out my grief to anyone. I felt like it would be too childish to admit what I really felt because that person had good intentions. But because I kept all those bitter thoughts inside me, it reflected through my everyday actions and I unintentionally hurt many people because of it. And then one day, I exploded and well… things weren’t pretty.”

      Eunji gulped and was silent for a moment. Then she asked, “Why are you telling me this?”

      “Look, I can feel how troubled you are these days and I just can’t sit around another day seeing you keep all of your feelings in. I can’t continue pretending that you’re fine and happy about Kibum, either. It’s obvious to me that you’re feeling something else than happy,” TaeYeon said and sat beside her.

      Eunji sighed deeply and hesitated to speak. Jinwon waited for a while and then said, “If it’s awkward to you, forget that I’m your father right now. Talk to me like you would to Mr. Kim—like any other friend.”

      Eunji felt overwhelmed by his caring efforts and immediately closed her eyes to hold back tears. Before the hot and deafening sobs overcame her, she tried to calm herself down and organize her thoughts. When she was ready, she began,

      “I’m confused,” Eunji began.

      “Confused?”

      “What I said a while ago—that I was happy for him going out of the hospital—was true by the way. Finally, he’s out and I can spend more time with him and we could be the friends like we were before. But… I don’t know what to feel. Sometimes I feel guilty or ashamed. Kibum is having a really hard time, but those who love him are equally having a hard time, too. I don’t even know who to pity anymore at this point.”

      “Ashamed? What do you mean?” Jinwon wondered.

      “I feel ashamed that Kibum has accepted me and loved me more than his family or his closest friends. I can see that he always complains behinds their back and he even tells me how annoyed he is seeing them, but when he’s with me, it’s the complete opposite. He just loves me even though I put in the least effort out of everyone else. It feels so unfair somehow that out of all these people who knew him more, he just pays attention to me. It’s just… I don’t know,” Eunji sighed. “It just seems wrong to me.”

      “Hm… that does seem unfair,” Jinwon nodded. “It is quite sad that he doesn’t pay attention to those who are putting in more effort, but here’s the thing. Someday, he will see their true intent and will thank them and love them back for it. But while he is still surrounded by all these people who are putting more effort, he will think you are more sincere because you’re not pushing yourself so much on him. It’s like seeing a white ball in a sea of red ones. You, out of everyone who knew him, don’t tell him that he should know this or that. You just visit him to cheer him up and make his life livelier. That probably speaks volume to him.”

      “Still… I just feel like he’s treating them all so badly when he shouldn’t. They don’t deserve it.”

      “Then… teach him.”

      “Huh?”

      “Teach him how to love them,” he said.

      “…How?”

      “You have a good character, Eunji. You have a good heart. You’re so selfless. Do you know how hard it is to be like that—to love like that? Even now I’m learning from you. So if you’re worried about Kibum not treating people right, then tell him. He will listen to you… or maybe you don’t even have to tell him. If he watches how you normally treat others, he will learn from you. He will see for himself what is good and what isn’t and eventually, he will want to make things right in his life.”

      “Be a light to him… I guess I never thought of it that way,” Eunji smiled and felt a little more at ease. “Did you have someone like that when you woke from your coma?”

      “Of course,” Jinwon nodded. “Throughout my life, I’ve had quite a few. But do you know who the very first one was for me?”

      “Who?”

      “Your mom,” Jinwon simply smiled and stood up. “Anyway, good luck on your first day in Xiah Dragon Noodles tomorrow.” He stood up and ruffled her daughter’s hair. He knew he has done more than enough to make her feel better today.

      As he fixed up his jacket, a little pink box fell out of his pockets.

      “Oh? You dropped something.” Eunji noted and dived in to pick it up. The moment the item landed steadily on the floor, she knew it was no ordinary box. Jinwon gasped and panicked. He tried snatching it away, but Eunji was quick to pull it away.

      Eunji snickered and giggled as she slowly opened the box. Jinwon slammed his hand down to the box so that Eunji wouldn’t see anything.

      “I see you bought some jewelry,” Eunji snickered. “When did you buy this?”

      “Last month…” Jinwon snatched the box away and buried it deep in his pockets.

      “Last month?!” Eunji scoffed.

      “Yes, now shush. Don’t mention a thing to your mother, okay?”

      “Hahaha, okay…. Whatever you say, dad,” Eunji snickered. “Wait,” she called out as Jinwon was out of her room. “When are you going to propose?”

      Jinwon avoided eye contact and turned his head away. “Not any time soon.”

      “Why not? What’s there to wait for?”

      “I’m not ready,” Jinwon sighed as he closed his eyes. He couldn’t be nonchalant about it.

      “You’re not? Why?”

      “I’m just not ready,” he said, trying to avoid the question.

      However, Eunji pressed on, “Oh c’mon, there has to be a reason behind it?”

      Jinwon knew she wouldn’t let this topic go if he did not say it now so he admitted it. It only seemed fair since Eunji talked about her feelings, too. “I haven’t done anything to be worthy to be a part of her life—a part of this family.”

      “What makes you say that?” Eunji asked.

      “All I have ever done was get your mother pregnant, left her when she needed me, then almost did the same thing all over again 15 years later.”

      “Wait… are you saying you almost got her pregnant again?” Eunji’s jaw dropped.

      Jinwon bit his lip out of embarrassment and he turned red, “Look, before you start jumping to conclusions, the only sex that happened between us brought life to you, okay!? We never had sex when we met again months ago. We really got our boundaries up!”

      “But you just said… And I mean I even saw you guys…”

      “That was nothing, okay! We did not do it! And how many times have I told you to stop thinking about that!? Anyway, anyway, I’m not talking about this with you,” Jinwon angrily flailed his arms around and continued to head down the stairs.

      “Okay fine, I’ll stop. But anyway, despite whatever you were saying, we’re happy to have you here. You’re happy with us too, aren’t you?” Eunji leaned over her doorway and crossed her arms to her chest.

      “Yes, but… I’m not a good enough man for her. I’m not a good enough father for you, too.”

      “Who said you were not good enough? You seem like an okay dad to me. We get along pretty well. You also understand what I need without me even knowing what I need. The kind of love that you naturally show every day is good enough for me to acknowledge you as my father. To be honest, I don’t even know what having a good father is like. I’m assuming you don’t really know how to be a father or a husband either, so I have no high expectations. Figuring out what it’s like to have you as my father as we live our lives together as a family is the best thing, don’t you think?”

      Jinwon became thoughtful for a moment and said, “But what about your mother?”

      “Oh! Ha!” Eunji scoffed. “What are you worrying about? Being good to her? Being a good husband? Or are you scared of hurting her?”

      “Well… basically all that,” Jinwon nodded.

      “Do you really need to worry so much about those things? Is it not obvious to you how much she’s head over heels for you? Seriously, I’ve been with her all my life and I can basically tell you every habit she has towards guys. But when you came, I was so shocked to see her act like a teenager. It was so new to me. I mean I’ve even set her up on men that seemed better than you, but I’ve never seen her use those lips for any other man than yours, so don’t think you will never be good enough for her.”

      “But is that really alright? I haven’t even done much for this family…”

      “Really? Then let me ask you this, Mr. Kim,” Eunji locked him in the eye. “What’s the one thing that you want to do for us?”

      “I-I…,” Jinwon was startled by her question but quickly answered, “I want to make the both of you happy. I want you both to be happy.”

      “Is that it?” Eunji scoffed.

      “I want what’s best for the both of you,” he added.

      “Can I ask you another question, then?” Eunji pressed and he nodded.

      “Are you keeping any dangerous secrets from us?”

      “No,” Jinwon denied immediately.

      “Okay. Then can I tell you something crazy? You—just by being yourself—already made us happy. So stop saying you haven’t done much. You’ve done a lot. Besides, it’s not about how much things you can do or how great you can do them. Right now, you’re showing how much you love us by saying you want what’s best for us. I don’t know how you see that, but to me that’s a huge thing already. So I don’t think there’s nothing more you need to prove.”

      “R-really?”

      “Yeah! So don’t be scared about what mistakes you can make later. One way or another, it will happen anyway. But perfect love casts out fear, right? Just think about the good that you think you can do now. That’s really all that you should be worrying about. Don’t fear the heights and remember the feeling you guys felt when you made me,” she smirked.

      Jinwon carefully listened to every word his daughter said until it got to the last sentence. “Wait, what?!” His face flushed red and he exploded, “How the hell would you know what we felt at that time?!”

      “Hey, remember, I read Mom’s diary. She’s very informative of that time, you know,” Eunji snickered. “Talking about how conflicted you both were since you both didn’t want to hurt each other since it was both your first time, but when the clock was at 11:11, both of you, so fearlessly out of love, just—ha-ha-ha”

      “OKAY, OKAY. STOP.” Jinwon covered his face out of embarrassment. Of all the examples of courage, she really had to mention that, did she?

      “Anyway, you get what I’m saying, right?”

      “Yeah…,” Jinwon nodded as he recalled all of the things she said. “Thank you, Eunji. You always know the right words to say.”

      “Is that sarcastic?” Eunji laughed.

      “No, no, I really mean it. Everything you said means a lot to me right now… well, everything you said before the thing, at least. Thank you.”

      “Anytime!” she smiled brightly.

      Before he continued down the stairs, he asked, “Any other things you think I should keep in mind?”

      “Hmm… Just please stop dragging me on your byuntae affairs with mom. And if you’re both doing something scandalous, either give a warning so that I can avoid it or just don’t tell me at all. Actually, yeah, never tell me. And do it on your apartment for all I care. I don’t even want to get an idea.”

      “Says the girl who brings up the very thing she doesn’t want to see,” Jinwon scoffed.

      “Hey, I wouldn’t be mentioning it if it was all kept secret from me.”

      “It’s still your fault. What were you even doing with your mom’s diary?”

      “Well why was the door even open when my mom was on top of you that one afternoon? You guys know I come home around that time.”

      Jinwon couldn’t believe his ears and just gave up. He sighed tiredly and argued one last time, “We did not have sex that day, young lady.”

      Jinwon climbed down the stairs to finally escape the conversation. Although their inappropriate conversation bothered him, he was still amused by it. And after all that shenanigans, what really matters was that she was able to tell him things he needed to hear. There was nothing more to prove.

      He was not feeling heavy hearted about that ring anymore. If he had to go down on his knees the moment Stephanie comes home, he would, but that would be too lame. So he quickly decided to get home to plan for the proposal.

      “Hmm, should I call Yohan and Hyungsoo for this? Hmm… maybe Eunji’s help would be nice,” he thought.

      As if on cue, Stephanie’s loud voice echoed through the house from the door, “I’m home!” Jinwon froze as he saw Stephanie. In that moment, he was left breathless at how beautiful she was. She wasn’t wearing any make-up, she wasn’t in any fancy dress, and even her hair wasn’t combed. She was merely a woman in a thick black parka that covered her attracting figure. The scarf around her neck covered almost half of her face, but her eyes still sparkled brightly. Anyone could see that she was a little bit of a mess, but to Jinwon, she had never been prettier. Looking towards her with new eyes, every little detail about her suddenly seemed so fascinating and beautiful.

      “Oh hey,” Jinwon smiled towards him but deep inside her, she still felt scared and awkward to talk to him especially since Jinwon just stood there blankly staring at her without a word.

      “I’m going,” Jinwon managed to say. He could not think of anything else but to propose to her. He had to go somewhere else without her to clear and arrange his thoughts.

      “Huh?” Stephanie blinked. “Where?”

      “Some stuff over Xiah Dragon Noodles…,” he mumbled as he scuttled through to wear his coat. Jinwon sensed that he was keeping something from her and in her mind she argued with herself if it was a good thing or bad thing. She just stared hopelessly at him wondering why he was hurrying or why he looked nervous about something.

      Before Jinwon stepped out of the door, he turned around to look at her one more time. He tried to say in his flattest tone, “I won’t be back for dinner. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

      Stephanie simply nodded her head. She was not able to smile because she felt he wanted to go out on purpose to avoid her. Jinwon noticed how unenthusiastic she was and remembered that they were not in the best terms. To slightly make things better between them, he took one step closer to her and gently raised her chin up.

      “On second thought,” he said and smiled at her, “Could you meet me at the studio tomorrow, around 5 PM?”

      “Hm?” Stephanie’s eyes widened. Jinwon hasn’t been making plans between them for a while so this caught her off guard. “What for?”

      “Let’s go out and get some fresh air.”

      Stephanie wanted to ask why but at the same time, she wanted his reason to remain a mystery. Jinwon has been complaining about how cold it was these days so for him to suddenly suggest on going out seemed so unlike him. He either had a good or bad reason for doing so.

***

      The next day, Kibum was finally released from the rehabilitation center. Although Kibum’s parents wanted him to rest more, they kindly allowed him to hang out with Eunji for a bit. And so, as Eunji promised, she walked with Key to Xiah Dragon Noodles to celebrate his improving health.

      “So, how does it feel being a free man?” Eunji asked as Kibum happily hung his arms on her shoulders.

      “It feels great. You don’t know how much hell this past month was… I felt so stupid most of the time not knowing anything.”

      “You’ve done well,” Eunji brightly smiled at him and ruffled his hair. “I’m sure you’ll get by again quickly.”

      “Thanks! I couldn’t have been so optimistic about recovering without you and Junmyun Hyung.”

      Silence fell for a moment. Kibum hesitated for a bit, but then he asked, “By the way, Suho told me that he and I weren’t really well acquainted back then. But how about you? Who were you from my past? I think you haven’t said anything.”

      “We were just friends who were starting to get to know more about each other,” Eunji said while she staring at the sky. It seemed like it was about to rain.

      “Was that all there was?” Kibum wondered. “I thought…” he trailed off. Fragments of memories about Eunji have been revealing themselves to him day by day. He already somewhat knows that he had a huge crush on her, confessed his feelings, and even kissed her under the rain.

      “You thought what?” Eunji turned her head to him.

      “It’s nothing… just that… we kissed?” He scratched his head for he wasn’t exactly sure.

      “Oh… yeah,” Eunji chuckled timidly and blushed. “Something like that.” Kibum smiled.

      “You know what’s weird… you were the first one I ever remembered,” he said and stopped walking. Eunji was baffled by what she heard and froze the moment he held her hands. “I remember you Eunji. I think I remember everything about you. Things like you playing piano, eating samgyeopsal together, reading beside you, walking home… Everything we did together, I think I remember it all.”

      “Y-you do?” Eunji stuttered, feeling goosebumps run through her body at Kibum’s touch.

      “Yeah,” he nodded. “I remember you, but I still have no idea who I am,” he laughed as if not remembering his own life was a joke. “You’re the only one so real to me,” he said so gently that Eunji became speechless.

      Suddenly, it started to drizzle. They both looked up and felt the soft drops of water on their faces. It reminded Eunji her of her first kiss.

      “We should probably go find some shelter,” Kibum interrupted Eunji who was deep in thought.

      “Oh, yeah. Xiah Dragon Noodles is close. You think you can run?” Eunji said.

      “You bet!” Kibum tightly gripped Eunji’s hands. Eunji’s eye-smile went up and she started running. They merrily sped to the restaurant under the gray sky. It was the first time Eunji felt happy under a rainy day.

***

      Xiah Dragon Noodles started getting filled up since the people heard there was going to be a new performance after Junmyun’s band resigned. In the sea of full tables, Eunji managed to find a comfortable place for Key near the stage. On the same table sat Minjae.

      “Kibum, sit here for a few minutes. I have to do something,” Eunji said.

      “You’re leaving me here by myself?” Kibum pouted.

      “There’s this kid here,” Eunji pointed to Minjae. “He’s nice. You’ll like him. Now I have to go. The people on the stage will kill me.”

      And so, Kibum was left in the care of Minjae as Eunji does her first day on the job. It was only one song that she was going to sing with her friends so it wasn’t much of a problem. It won’t take long.

      “Hi, I’m Minjae,” Minjae introduced himself. He knew Kibum might not remember him.

      “Oh hi, you’re Eunji’s childhood friend, right?” Kibum greeted as he held back from laughing. “I never imagined you’d look very girly.”

      “I have a girlfriend,” Minjae angrily crossed his arms. “Ah… I can see you haven’t changed.”

      “You know me?” Kibum chuckled.

      “Yeah. We used to be really good friends. Oh, and you were actually the one who brought me and my girlfriend together.”

      “Oh really? Who is she?”

      “So Eun, the one with long, straight, black hair on stage.”

      “Ah… I can see both our girlfriends are participating in this performance.”

      “Girlfriend? And who might that be?” Minjae laughed.

      “Yeah… suppose you know Eunji, right?”

      “You guys are officially together?” Minjae’s eyes widened.

      “Haven’t really made any declarations. Even she doesn’t know. But she is my girlfriend,” Kibum smiled.

      “Tch,” Minjae snickered. “Alright then.”

      There on the stage were five girls, Sarang, Bomyi, So Eun, and Na Eun’s friends, Namjoo and Hayoung preparing, Sungyeol with his guitar, and Hyungsoo on drums. Eunji went up the stage and prepared her own mike stand.

      “Yah, where were you?” Sarang whispered angrily. “We were worried you wouldn’t come.”

      “Sorry. I brought over a guest,” Eunji smiled. Sarang turned her head to the audience and saw Kibum. “Omo! He looks great and radiant now!”

      “I know, right?”

      “You guys ready?” Hyungsoo said.

      “Yeah,” the six nodded.

      “Go ahead Sarang, introduce yourselves,” Hyungsoo said.

      And so, Sarang introduced their little group in a very fresh way and everybody in the restaurant applauded.

(Song: Fairytale Love (사랑 동화) – Apink)

Soon, Sungyeol started plucking his guitar.

Eunji started to sing. Kibum’s eye’s filled with excitement hearing her beautiful voice. It was no doubt now that she was the one who sang, who gave him ease during the days he was unconscious.

 

From the beautiful fairytales of my childhood
I learned for the first time
That love was all about the fluttering feelings

I thought that kind of love would come to me too

Need you
I really didn’t know back then
Need you

I thought we’d last forever
I didn’t know how precious you were and only complained every day

Yes, now I finally know
That the pain is greater than that love
Our story has ended like that
Becoming a sad memory, my love

 

So Eun started singing. Minjae became all giddy up in his seat. Kibum found it weird since the song was sad, yet Minjae was so happy.

 

This isn’t the love I used to know
I thought it was like what I dreamed of, in the fairytales

I guess I was too young to know love back then

Need you
I really didn’t know back then
Need you

I thought we’d last forever
I didn’t know how precious you were and only complained every day
My love

Yes, now I finally know
You’re so precious
I finally realized that you’re the love that I learned with my heart

Now I can’t turn things back
It’s too late
You’re not by my side

But our beautiful story is still in my heart, my love

 

The whole time, Kibum was listening closely. Why was this song so sad? Why does he have the feeling that Eunji once felt this way?

      “Who wrote this?” Kibum asked.

      “Eunji and her dad wrote this recently,” Minjae said. “They are really talented.”

      “Any idea as to who it’s directed to?” Kibum asked.

      “I don’t know,” Minjae shrugged.

***

      Stephanie nervously opened the door to the studio and there sat Jinwon in front of the baby-grand piano. She smiled remembering the days when it was only the two of them during Thursday afternoons in this room. Seeing him again in the same setting felt like she traveled back in time when almost nothing troubled them at all. But why did Jinwon call her here? He wouldn’t invite her here at this particular afternoon if he didn’t have anything important to say.

      “Hey…” Stephanie greeted and sat beside Jinwon. “It’s raining outside. It’s awfully freezing, too.”

      “It is? Well then we can spend our time here,” Jinwon said.

      “No fresh air then?” Stephanie chuckled.

      “We won’t need it anyway,” he said.

      “I knew you’d say that,” she snickered.

      “Anyway, do you remember the times when we would just hang out and talk here while waiting for the band members?”

      “Of course I do,” Stephanie smiled. “I just remembered as soon as I came in.”

      “I kept on thinking about it yesterday. We would just talk to each other for about thirty minutes about anything that got into our heads, and it got us closer together. And if we had an argument or something like that, we’d work it out together during this time. I was just thinking that I wanted to revive those kinds of moments, even if it’s just for today. I wanted to just talk with you about what has been going on my mind.”

      “Should I be nervous?”

      “Maybe,” he smiled but that did not ease Stephanie’s anxious heart at all.

      “I remember one particular Thursday, just a week before we made love,” he said and paused. They both turned their eyes to each other at the same time, and they both felt immediately embarrassed to hear those words. Jinwon cleared his throat and tried to continue on with his story, “I was practicing the Chopin Nocturne that I’ve tried so hard to finish learning just for you. I haven’t told you then that if I finish the piece, I’d be assured that you’ll be with me forever, but I was heavily thinking about it. Do you remember that simple Thursday and all the words that we said?”

      Stephanie was silent, trying to recall what he was talking about. “If you’re talking about a week before the… you know…, I think I remember how we made out passionately for the longest time here in the studio. I don’t remember the words that we said though.”

      “Then let me play that Chopin piece for you,” Jinwon smiled. “Maybe it will refresh your memory a bit.”

      Jinwon opened the baby grand. He took a deep breath and started to play.

 

OCTOBER 23, 1997, Thursday

      Forever—again and again, it echoed. Forever. You are my forever. It was a promise that softly waltzed from Jinwon’s heart to Stephanie’s heart as he played Chopin’s Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 9 No.2. They were only teenagers, naïve and hasty with their lives as they could be. It was no surprise how their love was like a baby dandelion, so carefree and beautiful, yet so fragile; anything can blow them away from each other. Forever—to stay in-love forever—seemed like an unreachable dream. But the clock in the room has stopped ticking, as if time has stopped for a moment to give them a sense of forever.

      “Silly of you to be playing that piece again,” Stephanie laughed hearing him getting off track from the complicated piano piece. Jinwon laughed at her remark and stopped the metronome to relax the nerves twisting inside of him.

      “Well, I’m just trying to relive the moment that made me want to be with you,” Jinwon smiled as he brushed away the bangs that gloomily hung above her eyes—eyes that hid away all the sorrows of the world. How lovely it was to see them glowing when their eyes meet as if she was the happiest girl in the world.

      “You’re so cheesy,” she hit him and blushed madly remembering the night they first kissed when the same piece lovingly drew them together.

      “This song always refreshes me,” he said as he wiped off some dust on the baby grand’s spruce keys. “When I hear it, our relationship suddenly feels as exciting as the first kiss. But I guess, not even the kiss can beat the emotions I felt when I saw you smile after you cried about how lonely and broken you were at that time. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen… like a rainbow after a storm.”

      Stephanie timidly turned away and wondered how he ever deserved such a sweet boy. He was being really lovey-dovey with his words again. Whether he sincerely meant every word, she never knew. But as a girl craving for love, she believed them without dilemma. It didn’t matter if they only intended to make her blush for his actions truly said much more. He was a boy who loved nothing but music, almost going as far as to claim that his guitar was his beloved wife. The only thing in his mind was trying to get a record deal even at such a young age. He had no opinion or outlook on anything else, but now, she was being cared for. Music was his best friend, but just for her, he learned to love something new. He bought her a dog last year on her birthday, wrote and sang songs for her, and sung her lullabies when she couldn’t sleep. Oh, it was way too obvious how much he loved her.

      “Stephanie,” he called her name almost as silent as a whisper, “Don’t you wish time would stay here forever, when our love is still as fresh as ever? I don’t want to think about time passing without you.”

      “I’ll always be in your heart if you let me. Just us together like this, with music surrounding us while waiting for the others… this heart-to-heart talk we always seem to do before band practice starts—it won’t leave you. I won’t leave you.”

      And there he saw the promise of a forever staring back at him. At 18 years old, he knew, there was going to be no one else but her. Every moment they shared together should not go to waste or be misplaced. If she promises not to leave his heart, so he will do the same. He will hold her hand forever.

      “I love you,” he whispered out of thankfulness and assurance. Before she could reply, he leaned in for a kiss.

 

      When Jinwon finished the Nocturne that had softly waltzed in Stephanie’s heart, he let the silence sink in for a moment. He needed it to calm himself. When his nervousness settled down a bit, he stared deep in Stephanie’s eyes. Stephanie stared at him back, catching onto the fact that Jinwon had something to say.

      “Fany-ah…,” he breathed out as he nervously tried to gain all the confidence he could muster. He began, “The day I play this piece perfectly for you is the day I know we’ll be together forever. I played this for you a few months ago, yet I was so uncertain of how we would actually end. I was confused and in denial. We talked about marriage and I really thought I couldn’t do it. I keep thinking of this and that, and I got tired and letdown by my own standards and my own expectations. I guess part of it has to do with how overwhelmed I really was by how my life has suddenly changed… it’s scary to think of the future, you know? It’s even scarier to think I could lose this precious time I have with you with such bad luck following me around. But now, I’d rather not think, for as you said before, all I need is to look at you, to see that I finally have you, and that I love you with every fiber of my being.

      “Fany-ah…,” he said almost like a whisper as he closed his eyes. “I don’t want to think about a time passing without you.”

      He opened his eyes said, “Do you remember when this Chopin piece particularly became special to us?” He slid his hand inside his pocket waiting to take out the box at the right time.

      “Of course. It was playing when we had our first kiss. That’s how you started to learn it.”

      “That was the start of our relationship, wasn’t it? Now, I’m ready to start something new again, and I’m ready to learn so much more than just a piano piece for you to show you how much I love you,” he said and took out the pink box that stayed too long inside his pockets.

      “Are you ready to do the same? Will you marry me?”

 


CHAPTER 16: Occupied


A M N E S I A: Chapter 14

Chapter 1: First Love Nocturne

Chapter 2: Date?

Chapter 3: Daydreaming Heartbeat

Chapter 4: Closer

Chapter 5: Are You Listening?

Chapter 6: Confusing

Chapter 7: I Miss You

Chapter 8: 안녕

Chapter 9: Friends

Chapter 10: Uncomfortable

Chapter 11: Sleepless

Chapter 12: Unpredictable

Chapter 13: Warmth

Chapter 14:

Ready

      A sharp static exploded in his ears when his body tried to adjust to his sudden awakening. His head pounded but the pain quickly subsided. The first things he noticed were whitewashed ceilings above him and an annoying beep entering his left ear. He couldn’t move his body and his mouth had gone dry.

      “Where am I?” Jinwon thought. His vision constantly blurred and he couldn’t decipher what was happening. Everything he saw seemed foreign to him and he couldn’t describe anything that his eyes landed on. But then it met Stephanie’s brown, blood-shot eyes. Something about those brown, glistening eyes felt like home.

      Stephanie lost her breath seeing him stare back at her. Her mouth dropped from shock. It felt like a dream seeing him finally awake—finally looking at her with those calm eyes.

      “Jinwon?” Stephanie stuttered with a smile. However, he did not respond and Stephanie immediately assumed the worst. “Do you… remember me?”

      Although unaware of his current situation, Jinwon was still able to understand her words. He stared at her trying to find an answer. Who was she? Her voice sounded familiar like a popular song of the past. Her face, though swollen and abused with tears, looked beautiful to him. She must have been someone in his life for his heart felt comfortable just staring at her, but not a memory or even a name came to mind. He tried to reply in any way he could but his sore throat did allow him to speak. His nerves were too stiff that he helplessly could not move any part of him. All he could do was faintly squinted his eyes for a second with his eyebrows struggling to furrow along as an answer. Then his eyes suddenly felt sore and he closed it.

      Stephanie held his hand tightly trying to get her soul closer to him. As she desperately searched for a way to find assurance that he knew what she was saying, ragged breath escaped her lips. Jinwon opened his eyes, startled that her tears began to show. Though clueless as to what these emotions exactly meant, Jinwon felt the desperation starting in her voice. “It’s me,” her lips quivered, “Stephanie.”

      Not a reply came for he could only do nothing but blankly stare. When she could not take seeing his lifeless eyes on her, bloated tears fell. One fell warm on Jinwon’s arm, and then came another. For a minute, this hot rain poured endlessly on his skin. His heart violently reacted to every drop and the heartbeat monitor amplified it all. He wanted to reach out for her cheeks and catch her tears, but his weak muscles forbid him.

      “Can you hear me?” she cried. Jinwon blinked slowly and slightly nodded his head. Stephanie felt a little glimpse of joy and relief, but it just didn’t seem enough.

      “Can’t you remember anything?”

      Jinwon opened his mouth but only his breath made a faint sound. He closed it immediately knowing nothing would come out. The thought was at the tip of his head, but he could not bring himself to answer. What was he even supposed to say?

      “It’s me, Stephanie… I’m your girlfriend.”

 

      Jinwon opened his eyes as he remembered how burdened he was hearing those words from Stephanie fifteen years ago. If Eunji says the same thing, Kibum might have a similar reaction as he did when he woke up from his coma.

      “Hi.” That was all that came out of Eunji’s mouth. Jinwon anticipated her words but that was it. A minute passed and she hasn’t said anything else. She didn’t know what else to say. She was just sitting there holding Kibum’s unmovable right hand.

      Jinwon couldn’t bear to watch what else would happen and alerted the doctors right away. In no time, the doctor and nurses came in to check Kibum’s condition. Their faces brightened up for they confirmed that he was really awake. Then one doctor told a nurse to call Kibum’s family. After that, Jinwon and Eunji went home and called it a day.

      On the way home, Eunji didn’t say anything. Her eyes drifted away to the window through the whole ride. Jinwon could not help but wonder what was going on her mind.  Was she happy or sad that Kibum was finally awake? He could not tell. All he knows is that she hasn’t been the same jubilant girl he met months ago. She could no longer add any snarky comments or replies to his questions. Neither could she laugh heartily at something that was funny to her before.

      It was easy to see that she was feeling something unpleasant, but just how could he help lift that hidden burden? Should he loosen up the atmosphere by joking or by softly comforting her daughter knowing that Kibum’s circumstances were similarly tragic to his own story? He felt worse the longer he did not do anything to comfort her silently aching heart, but the least he wanted was to upset her with wrong words. He did not know what approach would work for her and thus tensely drove both of them home without a word.

      “Oh, you’re home,” Stephanie greeted her daughter with a big hug. “Is something wrong? You look gloomy,” Stephanie said, clearly sensing her daughter’s troubled heart.

      “Kibum’s awake,” Eunji forced a smile.

      “That’s good news, Eunji!” Stephanie exclaimed, cupping her daughter’s face.

      “Yeah…” Eunji let out a restrained chuckle and went up to her room. Stephanie easily detected how unenthusiastic her daughter was but decided not to confront her about it for now.

      “Did something happen to Kibum? Did he lose his memories too?” Stephanie turned to Jinwon.

      “I don’t know,” Jinwon just sighed and shrugged. The doctors didn’t inform him anything yet, but it was too easy to guess the outcome from a coma like that. It’s either he loses his memory, damage a part of his senses, or both. Either way will be tragic and hard in some form for Eunji and everyone else. All he knew is that he did not want his daughter to feel the pain her mother went through, at least not to the extent that it would start erasing the color to her life.

      He gripped his guitar case tightly and took the courage to see how Eunji was holding up. Carefully he knocked on Eunji’s opened door. Eunji let him come in.

      “Eunji… here’s my guitar in case you want to use it again or want to practice,” he said, awkwardly putting the guitar case in the corner of Eunji’s room. He had an inner battle trying to decide whether he should talk things out with Eunji or just let Stephanie do all the comforting. He was definitely not new in trying to console people, but it somehow just felt nerve-wracking and different to do the same thing with Eunji, his daughter. What if he says the wrong thing? He was her father now, someone who she greatly looked up to. He should live up to that title. He had to prove himself worthy of that title.

      “H-how are you holding up?” Jinwon stammered trying to force himself to talk. Eunji just looked up to him as if she didn’t hear clearly.

      “Are you feeling okay? You know… Kibum, waking up?”

      “Uh…” Eunji looked away. “Yeah,” Eunji nodded. “Yeah I’m fine,” she assured with a smile but her wavering eyes could not fool Jinwon. He was also once like her, holding deepest emotions in from anyone with a smile. He’s done it many times to know how it looked, but feeling uncomfortable to press on, he just bought her words. He told himself that those words meant she wasn’t ready to talk about it, but in reality, it was he who was not ready to bear her burden. Besides, he thought, what could he really do? Maybe Eunji would want her mother’s consolation than his. Furthermore, he believed in Eunji’s amazing ability to be bright and optimistic again, so she probably won’t need any help dealing with her emotions at all. But the further he walked away from the door, the harder it was for him to forgive his own actions. “And you call yourself her father,” he scoffed at himself.

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A M N E S I A: Credits


A M N E S I A

“네가 기억해… 우리” (I Remember Us)

Written by Mia Angela (YoMiatot)


MAIN CAST and who they are based on

Kim Jinwon
Present played by Kim Jiwoong (brother of TaeYeon of 소녀시대)
Past played by Jeon Jungkuk (전정국) of BTS (방탄소년단)
Character loosely based on both Kim Jiwoong and Kim TaeYeon

Stephanie Hwang
Character based on and played by Tiffany of Girls’ Generation (소녀시대)

Eunji
Character loosely based on and played by Jung Eunji of Apink

Kibum
Character loosely based on and played by Key of SHINee

Seo JooHyun
Character loosely based on and played by SeoHyun of Girl’s Generation (소녀시대)

Jessica Jung
Character based on and played by Jessica Jung

Kwon Yohan
Played by Yoo Ah In
Character loosely based on Yuri of Girls’ Generation (소녀시대)

Choi Hyungsoo
Played by Choi Minho
Character based on SooYoung of Girls’ Generation (소녀시대)

Jung YongHwan
Character based on and played by YongHwa of CNBLUE

CAST EXTRAS:

Lee Taemin (SHINee) – Minjae
Son Na Eun (Apink) – So Eun
Park Chorong (Apink) – Sarang
Yoon Bomi (Apink) – Bomyi
Choi Siwon (SuperJunior) – Choi Si-Yoon
Im Yoona (소녀시대) – Yoona
f(Krystal) – SooJung / Krystal
Suho (EXO) – Junmyun
Sunny (소녀시대) – Sunny Lee
TaeYeon (소녀시대) – Kim HaYeon
Kim Junsu (JYJ) – Kim (Xia) Junsu
Kim JaeJoong (JYJ) – Kim Jaejun
Onew (SHINee) – Jinki
Chanyeol (EXO) – Sungyeol
Hyuna (4minute) – Lee Hyuna
Hyomin (T-ARA) – Hannah Park / Hana
Narsha (Brown Eyed Girls) – Sasha Park
Kim Shinyoung (Korean Comedian) – Kim Shinyoung
Kang Minhyuk (CNBLUE) – Chanyoung
f(Luna) – Yue
f(Amber) – Josephine
Henry Lau (SuperJunior-M) – Henry
f(Sulli) – Jinri
Baekhyun (EXO) – Baekho
Choi Minho (SHINee) – Minho
Kim Jonghyun (SHINee) – Jonghyun
f(Victoria) – Victoria
Leeteuk (SuperJunior) – Pastor Jeongsu
Goo Hara (KARA) – Haneul
Sunhwa (Secret) – Sunhwa

CAMEOS:

D.O. (EXO) – Kyungsoo
Kim Namjoo (Apink) – Namjoo
Oh Hayoung (Apink) – Hayoung
Lee Sooman – Lee Sooman


RANDOMLY MENTIONED:

Im Yoona (소녀시대) – Yoon-hee / TaeYeon’s forgotten family (Chapter 15)
Nichkhun (2PM) – Nicholas Hun (Chapter 1, 9 & 15)
Taecyeon (2PM) – Ok Tae-Sung (Chapter 1 & 8)
Yunho (TVXQ) – Jo Yunjae (Chapter 1)
Lee Cheol-Woo (actor) – Yoo Cheol-Woo (Chapter 1)
Kwon BoA (BoA) – Yohan’s older sister as an excuse (Chapter 11)


Songs Used In the Story
Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 9, No. 2 – Frederic Chopin (played by Idil Biret)
7989 – Kangta & TaeYeon
Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27, No. 2 – Frederic Chopin
By Myself – Tiffany
Linguafranc – Girls’ Generation (少女時代)
U You – Apink
I’m A Loner – CNBLUE
Keep Me Near – Rend Collective Experiment
Crayons Can Melt On Us For All I Care – RelientK
Closer – TaeYeon
Baby Don’t Cry – EXO-K
I Love You – TaeYeon
Bubibu – Apink
The Name I Once Loved – Onew ft. Kim Yeon Woo
Living Like A Dream – Kim JaeJoong
Can You Hear Me – TaeYeon / Jang Geun Seuk
The One Like You – Jessica
Because I Miss You – Jung YongHwa
Missing You Like Crazy – TaeYeon
Lost In Love – TaeYeon & Tiffany
The Boys – Girls’ Generation (소녀시대)
Cold Noodles – Jessica ft. Park Myeongsu
U – Taemin
Our Love Like This – Eunji & Seo In Guk
Sleepless – Standing Egg
Fairytale Love – Apink
A Certain Fluttering Heart – Ra.D
Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 9, No. 2 (variation) – Chad Lawson


Author Note:

Thank you for reading my story! If you are a friend of mine in real life, the fact that you were able to read this story was because I trusted you enough to share a part of my thoughts. So, how is it going, for you? Did your view of me change? 😛

If you happen to by a passerby from the world of the internet, I hope you enjoyed it!

Though this is the first ever story I have ever completed, I feel I am still lacking. There are many areas in the story in which I hoped I had thought of something better, took this out, added that, planned a better outline, but I am not yet ready to gather the head space to edit it all over again. I can do and will do better on my future writings. Please look forward to them 🙂


Ever wondered what happened to everyone during the 15 years after Jinwon’s fated accident?

Catch the A M N E S I A prequel now!

 


 

A M N E S I A: Chapter 13

Chapter 1: First Love Nocturne

Chapter 2: Date?

Chapter 3: Daydreaming Heartbeat

Chapter 4: Closer

Chapter 5: Are You Listening?

Chapter 6: Confusing

Chapter 7: I Miss You

Chapter 8: 안녕

Chapter 9: Friends

Chapter 10: Uncomfortable

Chapter 11: Sleepless

Chapter 12: Unpredictable

Chapter 13:

Black Sun (Part 3) – Warmth

      “Mom?” Jinwon could not move a muscle. How choked up was he hearing Eunji address Stephanie with the word he least expected!

      Eunji immediately shut her eyes when her own words echoed back to her as if she could escape the situation. “Things are not going well for me today,” Eunji sighed heavily with much regret. She knew the truth had to be revealed someday, but blurting it out like this didn’t seem right. If only she wasn’t so used to responding to her mother so quickly.

      Jinwon gazed intently at Stephanie then back to Eunji. It was evident to see the family resemblance. It always crossed his mind how they were very alike in a lot of areas, but he didn’t expect they were so much closer than he thought. Right from the very start, he deemed Eunji a special girl to him since she was able to trigger his memories of Stephanie, but he did not for one second suspect that they could be related.

      Eunji was just JooHyun’s student among many other kids. He was always told that he had to meet her because of her skills in music and JooHyun added no other reasons but that. After all this time, did JooHyun inform him so well because this girl right in front of him was his own daughter? Connecting the dots seemed easy with all of the facts suddenly popping up in his head, but it just choked him up even more.

      Although his memory was still shaky, he was sure that his family had not mentioned this to him at least once. There were never hints, never a slip of a tongue, nor a suspicious gaze being exchanged around him to say that he ever had a child in his life, at least not until earlier today. Only Jessica managed to blurt it out. He tried not to lean on her words since earlier because they didn’t make any sense, but just by looking at everyone’s eyes in that room at that time, they were all determined to hide something from him. His heart boiled at the thought of their fit for he could not understand their intentions at all.

      But out of everyone who kept this from him, he felt Stephanie had deceived him the most. He talked about Eunji with Stephanie just last night, but she asked questions as if she was not fond of her. She could have revealed it then when they were both so relaxed, but she spoke as if Eunji’s mother was some other woman. Was it all because of his memory loss that she was so hesitant to admit it? Was it all because he treated her harshly after waking up from his coma fifteen years ago? She should’ve known that hiding the truth from him would anger him more than shocking him with the truth.

      “Jinwon, Eunji…” Stephanie trembled. There was definitely a lot of explaining needed to be done.

      Jessica barged in the coffee shop and panted. “Hey! Why are you getting coffee now?? JooHyun is…” she trailed off when she lifted her head seeing Jinwon and Eunji sitting across each other with Stephanie standing stiffly in front of them. She gasped and was amazed to see them all together. “Woah! What a surprise.”

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