"Are you going to talk?"
Eun Jae's hands didn't stop as she stitched his brow but Woo Jin noted the tightening of her jaw as she continued to ignore him. It had been thirty minutes since they had escaped the loan sharks thanks to her surprisingly good gangster fans. He didn't know the background for that yet but he guessed that she wasn't in the mood to tell even if he asked. The only thing she had said since they had got back to Doldam was to not move.
He would try to disobey but there was something dangerous about her at the moment. He hadn't felt this nervous facing down the punches of the goons and here he was obeying her without complaint. It was all in the eyes, according to him. Something about her usually warm eyes was rigid and simmering tonight.
"Did you have any dinner?" he tried again, calculating the time and hoping to catch a break from the eerie silence. The nurses had left and Nurse Eun Tak had taken one look at Eun Jae before telling them that he would be back when she needed him. There had been something unsaid in the glance they had shared before he left though and Woo Jin wondered if he really had imagined the knowing sad smile he had gotten from the usually warm guy.
"Stop moving," she said finally when he attempted to look at her and he would have frowned if he could risk it. Her voice sounded rough at the edges, like she had been screaming her throat dry. And yet there was a contained coldness to it, a dam built to stop something she clearly wanted to spill.
This wasn't normal between them. He was always the one who kept things to himself. She was supposed to be the one who let everything out freely. She had always been that way, ever since he had first met her. Anything she felt, she would show. She was a live wire of life and emotions.
It was what had intrigued him about her. For someone like him, who had lived under clouds all his life, she was an unending rollercoaster of a rainbow.
And she was completely unlike herself now. It irked him, nagging on his nerves and veins like a solidifying clot of anxiety. He wasn't used to being anxious in many things but Eun Jae was always an exception. She was always his exception.
"You know, I can probably do the stitches myself," he said after a beat, fingers pushing against the sheet of the bed he was on, "it's an easy area and I can still -"
"Why can't you trust me?"
Woo Jin's eyes shot up to catch Eun Jae's face at that and noted the way she was pointedly looking only at his brow.
"Don't move," she said and absently brushed something off his cheekbone before continuing the stitches, "You heard what I asked."
"It's not that I don't trust you," he explained in mild confusion warring with an uneasy guilt, "I just thought that you might have other things to do."
"Almost anything other than caring about you," she completed his unsaid sentiment and he felt the unease grow as her eyes finally met his, "Right?"
"I've been thinking about it," she continued casually, looking back at her work, "You wouldn't tell me about the loan sharks. Wouldn't tell me about Hyun Jun sunbae. Wouldn't tell me about my oppa.You even walked away with them tonight without even giving me a chance to try to help you."
"I was basically kidnapped, Cha Eun Jae," he tried arguing but she didn't let him cut her flow.
"And I thought at first that maybe you did all this because you didn't like to show your weakness," her fingers were steady against his brow and the anaesthetic was effective but he could feel a tinge of pain seeping through her nonchalant tone, "Maybe you're just a private person who wants boundaries, I thought. But then you go around and meddle in my affairs or help me whenever I need. All those times you never cared about boundaries. Which made me think that maybe I'm missing the point completely."
She leaned back to finish her stitches and removed her gloves but Woo Jin was frozen to his spot somehow.
"Maybe the point was simply that you don't trust me," she offered without any accusation in her words, just a statement of fact.
It was strange how that hurt more than any accusation in his life ever had.
"You know that's not true," he replied, not knowing when she had become the calmer one between them and why he could feel the anxiety build within him, "You know that's not how I feel."
"I don't know how you feel in any way, Seo Woo Jin," she reminded him and it was gentle, just a breeze of words, but it hit harder than any of the punches tonight, "You keep leaving hints of feelings and concern, say that you've waited for me before, and then you try to reset everything. I know the meaning of reset but I don't know if you want me to interpret all the codes you're leaving me. So, no, I don't know how you feel."
Woo Jin had seen her smile at him before, multiple times, but there was a strange sadness to it now. It felt like she was seeing a part of him he had wrapped safely behind walls and she was unwrapping him with just a look. For all his courage, he had always feared one form of it and Eun Jae was filled with it from head to toe. She was emotionally brave every day, and here she was, looking at him with that accepting glance of fragile sorrow. Holding that scared child in place inside him. Unafraid to speak to the parts of him that he didn't think were worthy of being spoken to.
"What do you want, Eun Jae?" he asked and he would have been embarrassed any other time about the way his voice threatened to crack at the surrender in those words. Like they had slipped from his lungs right onto the hook she had gotten into him.
She stayed silent for a second, eyes shifting between his eyes in a gaze of unknown search. He didn't know what she sought but tonight it looked like she would find it.
When she finally smiled a little more, he held his breath in his throat.
"Do you want me to show you?" she asked, in an echo of the words he had once thrown in frustration inside a quiet OR. Before he could catch any words to hold onto his last defenses, she leaned forward and his eyes disobeyed his will to close without permission.
His lips waited for a long awaited match but it never came and he had a moment of heartbreak before he felt it.
Soft, assured, and warm against his forehead, he felt Cha Eun Jae swallow his soul whole with her utter abandon of pretence. She was all care, all kindness, and all she was focused on right now was him.
Her hands clasped the sides of his face and he couldn't stop the slipping tears betraying his closed eyes as he felt the second kiss against his right eyelid. The left followed with the same warmth, the same scent of a forgotten home in the careful gesture.
Eun Jae didn't get deterred by the silent tears and met them with kisses to his cheeks, blocking them before they fell.
When there was a pause after that, he finally opened his eyes and there she was. Right within his reach after all this time, the insanely rare species of genuineness he had managed to find despite being himself. Eun Jae had always had a sparkle in her eyes but the warmth of the night lent a glow he would see in his dreams every day from then. When she was sure that he was watching her, she leaned forward to give him the answer he had never considered to every question rattling in his heart.
Like everything about her, Eun Jae's kiss was earnest in every second and he wanted to cry again. It would have been humiliating if he hadn't been saved by the smile she had pressed against his lips.
It could have been an entire night or just a new moment but when she leaned back, Woo Jin believed that he had lived through an entire dream.
"Do you want to reset this too, Woo Jin?" she asked with a name he hadn't thought could sound so fond and he finally snapped back to reality.
"Enduring is a trend nowadays, I've heard," he said in a recollection of her words from the past and hoped she would ignore the breathlessness in his voice. She let out a wordless chuckle and he decided that it was his turn to be brave.
It turned out that kissing someone he loved who would like to kiss back was unlike anything he had imagined in his dreams. He figured it was a good start to trying out more of them from now onwards.