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Darling

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"You idiot!" Hye Mi groans, smacking her boyfriend's head not so playfully. "That's not how you should do it! Who even counts money like that?" She shakes her head disapprovingly, pushing Pil Hyun away from her and the money.

"What?! What did I do so wrong?" He shouts as he stands up, revolted and confused at the same time.

"Just go wash the dishes or something." She ushers him away, still shaking her head. "At least you're good at that."

Pil Hyun is at a loss for words, staring in disbelief at his girlfriend when she returns her attention on the money. She's driving him crazy sometimes. He doesn't head towards the sink, walking over to Ms. Choi and Gook's table instead. The two, still laughing, watch him plop down on the chair next to Gook's, folding his arms and sulking. "I'm breaking up with her."

"I heard that."

"It was a joke, honey. Where would I find someone so sweet and nice and lovely like you?"

Hye Mi huffs at the irony in his voice, not even sparing him a glance.

"Be glad she even looked at you." Ms. Choi jokes, smacking his shoulder. "My daughter could do so much better, I don't know why she chose you."

Great, he won't escape here either. He looks at Gook, who's silently eating and enjoying their banter. For the past six years, he's been around enough to know that it's just harmless chiding and there's no bite to it. "What?" Pil Hyun deadpans. "You're not gonna say anything? Aren't you gonna be on my side?"

"I'm eating." Gook answers with his mouth still full, raising his chopsticks and spoon to show Pil Hyun the obvious.

"Let Gookie eat in peace. He must have had a long day at work while you were here stuffing your face and annoying our customers." Ms. Choi turns to face Gook again, smiling sweetly as she reaches out to pinch one of Gook's cheeks. "Our Gookie, always so handsome."

Gook smiles politely, cheeks heating up in embarrassment. Although he's grown fond of her over the past years - and of the other two, for that matter - her overly affectionate antics are still a bit too much sometimes. Luckily they've closed already and there's no one else bedsides them.

"I am the one her daughter is going to marry and she never treats me like that." Pil Hyun mumbles, watching the interaction.

Ms. Choi pretends she doesn't hear him complaining as she puts more food on Gook's plate, despite it being already full. "Eat it all, Gook-ah. You must keep your strength to guard Mr. Kim."

Gook nods, accepting it and not finding it in himself to tell her that he's already had more than enough. It'd make her smile drop right away.

"Right." Pil Hyun clears his throat to get Gook's attention. "How's work? Do you like it there?"

Gook looks at him, shrugging. "As always. Yes, why wouldn't I?"

Pil Hyun shrugs too, looking away. "Just... I never thought you'd want to be someone's bodyguard again, you know..."

There's awkward silence after that, all looks on Pil Hyun, until Hye Mi's loud sigh breaks it. "He's ugly, useless and dense. Ah, why do I still love you, though?"

Pil Hyun raises his eyebrows, finally understanding what he's done. "Oh... I shouldn't have said that, right? Was it... Was it too...?"

"It's all right." Gook laughs, nudging the other's shoulder. "It's what I'm the best at, after all, isn't it?" Gook's tried various jobs over the years, but none of them worked out in the end. When he's decided, not too long ago, to become Mr. Kim's bodyguard, he was sure he made a good choice. Now, after more than six months of doing what he's best at, he's still sure of it and happier than ever, finally at ease. He's already managed to buy an apartment, bigger than he's ever imagined he could own. He still comes to help around the shop whenever he has time, in his days off or in nights like this, when he's able to leave work early.

It's more than all right now.

"Well then, if everything's going so good, you should put in a word for me too." Pil Hyun jokes, trying to change the topic of the discussion and avoid getting to that point he was previously trying to get to. Ms. Choi's harsh glare was enough to make him reconsider his questions. "You're always walking around in these fancy, expensive suits and with your hair styled up, it's making me jealous." He nods at Gook's suit as if to prove his point.

His remark earns everyone's laughter - fortunately even his girlfriend's, which says a lot. "If you stopped spending your money on all those games, maybe you could afford it."

"I've seen you play too, honey!"

Hye Mi quirks an eyebrow, unimpressed. "What else should I do with them?"

The atmosphere goes back to how it was in moments, Pil Hyun's previous words seemingly already forgotten. It's a few minutes later when Hye Mi, all done with her work, raises her head, her gaze accidentally falling on the tv playing in the background at the same time she's speaking. "Should we lock up for the night since I'm..."

Confused, the others follow her gaze, none expecting to be met with what follows in the slightest bit. There's a 'What the hell?' coming out of Pil Hyun's mouth, but it sounds somewhat distant. Ms. Choi turns around to face the tv and see for herself what all this is about, gasping and bringing her hands to her mouth at the same time Hye Mi finds the remote, turning the volume up.

Gook slowly sets the chopsticks down on the table as he too stares at the screen on the wall. Somehow it's on the news channel, when it almost never is. Somehow it ended up there and somehow Gook was here just in time for that exact interview.

Somehow.

He can't help but stare as the reporter holds the mic for him and gives him an encouraging smile. She looks fascinated and possibly a bit intimidated. A lot of people used to look like that at Tae Joo when they first met him, that Gook can recall. But the proud smile on Tae Joo's face as he introduces himself as the new CEO of TB Group doesn't look like what Gook used to know anymore. He feels his heart stop for the briefest moment when Tae Joo looks directly at the camera, speaking. Gook doesn't really hear him, with all that pounding in his ears, but he looks. For the whole two minutes Tae Joo's on the screen, he doesn't take his eyes off. He simultaneously looks the same and like a stranger Gook's seeing for the first time. He smiles, but there's a harshness to the edges of his mouth that's never been there. He's speaking, but Gook doesn't recognize his voice, it sounds too urgent. He tries to look like he's enjoying the interview, but it's obvious that some of the woman's questions piss him off. He looks like he'd rather be doing something else, something more important. Something like coming back from another continent and taking the wheel of his father's company, which he swore he would never do. Out of all the possible scenarios, Gook never thought that this would turn real.

Hye Mi turns the tv off then, putting an end to the show just like that. The silence is deafening, the others having been hit so hard that they only manage to give Gook worried looks, unable to find the proper words. For a few minutes, Gook can't find words either. Ultimately, after his heart doesn't feel like jumping out of his chest, he meets Ms. Choi's eyes, trying but failing miserably to put on a reassuring smile. "Thank you for the food. I'll leave first." He stands up abruptly, all eyes on him.

"Yeah..." Ms. Choi nods, getting up as well. He's close to the door when she calls after him. "Gook-ah, are you gonna be all rig-" The loud sound of the door being slammed lets everyone know that no, he's not all right. Pil Hyun and Hye Mi wince and Ms. Choi falls back on the chair.

"And just when things were going well for him, that asshole had to show up." Hye Mi sighs deeply, taking her glasses off and sitting down across her mother. Ms. Choi nods, agreeing wordlessly. Even Pil Hyun stays silent, eyes glued onto the floor. "That's just... Cruel."