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Ugly?

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Growing up, Ae-ra knew that she was not particularly pretty. Dongman was good looking. So was Sul-hee. She did not mind when people called her ugly. Who cares what people say?

She always liked pretty faces - good looking men who talked nicely and who were stylish. That was why she dated Nam Sung-wook of Pungmul band. Things could have gone well but a stalker followed her around and spread foul rumours about her. Ae-ra shivers as she remembers those days.

Now, she is in a happy place. She knows that she is pretty. Her boyfriend of two years, Moo-ki, has told her over and over again how pretty she was. He is so good looking that he could be a Model if he chose to. Ae-ra smiles contentedly to herself.

There is only Dongman who still calls her ugly. She lets out a sigh and reflects over it. No matter how carefully she dresses, no matter how skillfully she applies her make-up, he never compliments her. He would at the most call her 'human-looking'.

~~

Not all good things last forever. Moo-ki cheated on her with an old woman and broke up with her. She is now lying in Namil Bar with Dongman. This could have been so romantic! Dongman is so handsome! Unfortunately, he does not feel a thing for her. Ae-ra sighs at her bad luck.

She opens her eyes wide as she feels Dongman touching her face. He sounds surprised, "You have great skin for someone that ugly."

The dumbhead still calls her ugly! Ae-ra lashes out at him for touching her inappropriately. He seems unaware of what he has done wrong and keeps arguing with her. She storms out from there.

~~

Once or twice, she has noticed Dongman looking at her when no one was watching. He averts his eyes as soon as she makes eye-contact. Now, that is new!

He threw tantrums and did all he could to stop her from dating Moo-bin shi. He insists that Moo-bin shi's high praises are simply not true. Ae-ra is not pretty and she is not like a Goddess at all. Ae-ra feels like throttling the fellow.

She knows that Moo-bin shi is going overboard with his compliments and gifts but she feels appreciated and he seems sweet. It has been so long since a man has tried to please her. Dongman spoils it all with his over-protective behaviour. Just because Moo-bin shi has liked all her photos in social media, he too likes one of her photos. Instead of complimenting her, he comments, "You are ugly."

She gets angry and unfriends him.

~~

It did not go well though - her dates with Moo-bin shi. He was already engaged and was just playing her. Ae-ra sighs. Not only that. When Dongman came to pick her up that night, she accidentally revealed to him that she liked him. Ae-ra feels so embarrassed now. Things have turned awkward with Dongman.

~~

After Dongman wins his first fight, however, he kneels down in front of her, takes her hand in his and declares that he is in trouble. "Now you look pretty even when you cry," he says.

Ae-ra's heart misses a beat. He has always made fun of how ugly she looks when she cries. Only the other day, he was calling her a crying baboon but now, Dongman pulls her up, leads her out into the corridor, and confesses, "I think you look pretty. I could see you only from afar. I could only think of doing headlocks and spending time with you."

As if this was not enough, he adds, "I sometimes want to kiss you. Do you imagine kissing me too?"

Ae-ra would have had a heart attack if the conversation continued any further. Thankfully for her, Coach nim surprised them by suddenly holding onto Dongman's hand and bursting into tears.

~~

Ae-ra is heartbroken. Dating Dongman had been like a sliver of sunshine. However, now that they broke up, it felt worse than a gloomy cloudy day. She wishes that they had not dated. Being just friends with him was better than being just an ex.

"Maybe Park Hye-ran and I can form a club together" - she shivered at her own morbid thoughts.

Dongman is in the cage, fighting with his nemesis, Kim Tak-su. She knows that he needs to do this badly but does not know how she could see him hurt and injured again. What if he loses his hearing again? What if something worse happens?

She puts her head down, not able to stop her tears. She is one of the announcers today and just cannot afford to leave the room. So, she just has to stay there with her eyes shut.

The applause and the music tell her that the match has ended. "Let Dongman not be hurt, Oh Lord," she sends a silent prayer as she raises her head with trepidation. Thank God! Dongman is rejoicing his win! She thanks her lucky stars and feels a fresh bout of tears streaming down her face. She dabs on them as quickly as she can and makes way to the cage. She is a professional announcer and she is at work now.

She congratulates him for a fight well-fought, a fight that she says is fought once in ten years.

He stops her when she is about to get down from the cage.

"Who cares whether your ex wins or not. Why are you crying?" asks Dongman as he wipes her tears.

Ae-ra can only manage a muttered, "We should not have dated."

"I can never risk dating you again, Ae-ra. What if we break up again? Move-in with me," he says earnestly.

Ae-ra is taken aback.

"Kissing means we are dating and move-in means marriage. I would like to see you forever, Ae-ra. Marry me," he says.

"Why bother asking?" she replies amid sobs.

~~

They got married three months after that fight.

"Do I look ugly to you now, Dongman?" asks Ae-ra as they sit at home, one lazy morning.

Dongman looks at her for a few seconds and chuckles. He draws her close and whispers into her ears, "Everyone says that you are pretty."

"And you?" she demands.

"You are my Ae-ra. Don't care how you look."

He kisses her soundly.