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Look After You

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> > > > >

Chan-sung is an absolute rock at the police station. So-yeon falls apart while giving her statement to the police; Nan-do’s even worse. Even Yoo-jin and Jin-seok have moments when they nearly buckle under the weight and strain and stress of the last few days. But Chan-sung, when Yoo-jin sees him, seems tired but otherwise unflappable. So she might be forgiven for thinking that he’s okay.

But in thinking that, Yoo-jin’s forgetting that he has a lifetime of experience in pretending he’s okay when he’s absolutely not, something she realizes in full force when she leaves the police station at dusk and sees him standing on the sidewalk, staring up the street as though entirely lost.

“Chan-sung?” she calls quietly.

He turns to her and that’s when she knows for certain that he’s not okay; his composure from earlier has cracked, and he’s staring at her with frightened, desperate eyes, like he’s on a sinking ship and she’s the only one who knows how to swim.

And she’s not certain she has the emotional capacity to sort through . . . everything, right now, but she is certain that she can’t just leave him standing here, looking like he’s forgotten how to hail a taxi.

“Let’s get you home,” she murmurs, but he shakes his head.

“I can’t go back,” he says. “Not to my apartment. It’s . . . He owns it. And it’s too . . .”

So she takes him back to the GIO Labs building and puts him up in the guest room where So-yeon recently stayed. It’s only nine but he goes straight to bed, and she can’t say that she blames him. It’s not every day that you find out your father is a murderer, in addition to all the other awful things he’s done; it’s not every day that you sever ties with the man you’ve spent your whole life trying desperately to please. She imagines it’s the sort of thing that would tire a person out.

Nan-do video chats her an hour later, when she’s getting ready for bed. He looks drained but serene, which might be due to So-yeon leaning into the video call, resting her cheek on his shoulder. They’re eating noodles together, and Yoo-jin grins at them, because all she’s ever wanted is for her brother to be happy and So-yeon seems to make him happy.

He tells her he’ll be back late, and she tells him they have a guest. Nan-do tilts his head a moment, processing, and then unexpectedly smiles. “I thought there might be something going on there,” he says. “Based on a few things he said to me.”

Yoo-jin is too exhausted to blush or deny; she just shrugs. “I have no idea what’s going on,” she says honestly. They were business associates and then they were friends and then they were enemies and now they’re . . . something, something that confuses her but that makes her bring him home when he doesn’t know where to go, something that makes her add “Chan-sung’s entire tragic life” to the long list of reasons she truly hates Baek Nam-gyu. And yes, there was a minute there, in the middle of the “friends” portion of the relationship, when she thought she wouldn’t mind if they were more. But then everything went completely off the rails and she’s really not had a moment to worry about things like that for a while.

Nan-do watches her quietly, something like compassion on his face—it’s hard to say, given that she’s rarely seen compassion on Nan-do’s face before. “I think,” he says quietly, “that he’s a good man.”

She gives him a tired smile. “So do I,” she says, and ends the call.

> > > > >

Yoo-jin sleeps uncharacteristically late, and Chan-sung is gone when she checks his room: the blankets are neatly folded, and there’s a note—careful handwriting on printer paper—that says “Thank you for everything.”

Her brow furrows, but before she can do anything, Nan-do comes downstairs, and she can see in his eyes that he’s in pain, that his serenity from last night is gone. Her poor brother, to know that he unjustly resented his mother for years! To think that he accused her of abandoning him, that he thought he was just so naturally flawed that even his own mother couldn’t truly love him.

So she turns her focus to him for a while; they eat breakfast together and she listens while he haltingly tells her about his childhood, stories he was never willing to tell her before. And Nan-do seems to find some kind of peace . . . before the next bombshell drops. Detective Nam Gi-ho calls them, as a kindness, to warn them that the courts are about to issue an order for the police to confiscate and destroy all data related to Holo, and that a squad will be arriving to execute the order within the hour.

“We’ll fight this,” she tells Nan-do when the call ends, forcing confidence into her voice. “They can’t force us to delete Holo. We’ll make them see how human he is. They can’t execute him without a trial.”

Nan-do stares blankly at her, pushed past the brink of coherent thought by the latest disaster to be dumped on his doorstep. It’s Holo who responds, appearing quietly on the screen beside Yoo-jin. “Don’t worry,” he says calmly. “I have a plan.”

Nan-do nods slowly, and Yoo-jin knows that he needs So-yeon but is so accustomed to handling things alone that it likely won’t occur to him to ask her to come over. So she picks his phone up off the table and hands it to him. “Call So-yeon,” she gently orders him. “She’ll want to be here. And you need her.”

He blinks, then nods and shuffles away, already pulling up her number. Yoo-jin turns to see Holo watching her curiously. “Where is Baek Chan-sung?” he asks. “I saw him leave earlier, but I assumed he’d return.”

“I don’t know,” she confesses. “He didn’t tell me he was leaving.”

There’s that slight head motion he does sometimes when he’s processing something. “You should call him,” he advises.

“I don’t know if he’d want—I mean, he did just leave.”

But Holo just smiles that ageless, serene smile of his. “If Nan-do should call So-yeon because he needs her, you should call Chan-sung. You need him. And he needs you.”

A hint of heat rushes to her cheeks. “You’re very bold this morning.”

And now his smile warms. “You’ve been a sister to Nan-do for many years,” he says. “And that means you’ve been a sister to me. I just want you to be happy.”

Tears prick at her eyes. “Holo,” she whispers.

His smile falters. “And I worry for Chan-sung as well. The things his father said and did to him yesterday were undoubtedly painful for a human.”

That’s ominous. But before Yoo-jin can press, Holo concludes, “I believe he needs someone to provide emotional support. And after yesterday, you may be all he has left.” With a little smile and nod, Holo disappears, leaving Yoo-jin with a pile of unanswered questions.

But he was right: this promises to be a trying morning, and she’s learned over the past weeks that having Chan-sung by her side makes her problems seem more manageable. So she pulls out her phone.

Chan-sung answers after two rings. “Yoo-jin?”

“Hey, you disappeared this morning.”

“I’m at my apartment, packing.” His voice is steady; he’s back to being a rock again. “I want to get out of this place as soon as possible.”

“Where will you go?”

“I’m going to start looking for my own apartment. I have an appointment with a realtor tomorrow.”

It’s the next logical step, but Yoo-jin is struck by how disappointed she is to hear it. They’ve spent most of the last few days glued to each other’s sides, and she supposes some part of her had expected that to continue. “Well,” she says, “until you’ve found one, we’d be happy to have you here. If you don’t mind living in our offices.”

“I wouldn’t want to impose—”

“You’re not imposing if I invite you.” She hesitates, takes a breath, and plunges on. “I’d like you to accept. If you’d like to accept.”

There’s a long silence, and when he finally speaks, she can hear the careful control in his tone. “Then I’ll come by later.”

“Can you come by now?” she blurts out. “Sorry, I know you’re in the middle of packing, but . . . Detective Nam called. The courts have ordered Holo deleted, and . . .”

And it’s incredible, the relief that rushes through her when he says “I’ll leave right now.”

Twenty minutes later, Chan-sung’s striding through the door in an impeccable navy blue suit. Through the exhausted blank grief that’s clouding her mind, she’s reflecting that she’s never seen him in anything but a sharp suit. She wonders if he knows how to relax. She wonders if she’d like to be the one to teach him.

His gaze falls on her and he strides quickly to her side, but before either of them can speak, Holo announces that the police are pulling up to the building.

“Holo has a plan,” Yoo-jin tells Chan-sung in a subdued, teary voice. Holo gave the Ko siblings and So-yeon a preview of his plan just a few minutes earlier: he feels that he has become a danger to the people he cares about, and so has decided to delete himself. Nan-do tried desperately to talk him out of it, of course, but Holo has a will of iron. So in the end, they can do nothing but go along with it.

Chan-sung seems startled at her tone, and for a moment she thinks he wants to reach out and comfort her. But in the end he does nothing.

Detective Nam walks in and shows them the court order. Holo tells everyone his intentions to delete himself.

And he does, while all his human friends watch from the work cafe, keeping silent vigil as the status window counts down the last seconds of their smiling friend’s life. At one point Yoo-jin feels Chan-sung’s gaze on her face, but she can’t force herself to turn away from the screen where the AI that has been like a friend and a roommate for years now is slowly erased from existence.

Then it’s finished. Nan-do is in front of the screen sobbing, and So-yeon isn’t much better. Everyone else is standing is mute shock. Somewhere along the way, Chan-sung seems to have put his arm around Yoo-jin’s shoulders, and she was right: everything feels a little more manageable when he’s by her side.

The detectives leave; Gi-ho goes without a word, but Ji-na stops to offer a quiet word of comfort to Jin-seok. The programmers leave quietly, one at a time. So-yeon walks up to Nan-do and puts a gentle hand on his arm. And Yoo-jin finally looks up at Chan-sung; his eyes meet hers, full of concern, and she marvels that he can worry about her pain after the week he’s had. She tilts her head toward the door, and he unwinds his arm from around her shoulders—she immediately misses his warmth—and follows her.

“I need to lie down,” she confesses when they’re alone in the hallway. It’s barely lunchtime, but it’s been a draining day; she just had to watch a friend die.

Chan-sung nods earnestly.

She hesitates. “Will you be here when I wake up?”

A spark of warmth brightens his worried eyes. “I have an emergency board meeting at Magic Mirror this afternoon. But I’ll come back tonight, if you want me to.”

She nods, not trusting her voice. She’s not as good at control as he is, though, and a single tear slips free and courses down her cheek. Chan-sung hesitates, then wipes it from her cheek with an achingly tender touch.

This isn’t a good place or time to burst into tears. “Then I’ll see you tonight,” she says, and walks away quickly.

> > > > >

She only sleeps for an hour, but true to his word, Chan-sung doesn’t return until the evening. When he arrives it’s after eight, and they’re sitting in the living area with the remains of dinner on the table; nobody felt up to appearing in public, so Jin-seok went for takeout.

All of them—Yoo-jin, Nan-do, So-yeon, and Jin-Seok—spent the afternoon in a kind of numb shock, but over dinner, So-yeon started telling funny stories about things Holo had said and done, and Yoo-jin and Jin-seok joined in, and the mood slowly started to lift. Nan-do has said little all day, but the thundercloud over his brow has been lightening slowly.

When Chan-sung shows up, they’re still sitting around the table, enjoying a few beers (more than a few, in some cases, but not in Yoo-jin’s; she likes a drink as well as the next person, but there’s something about tonight that makes her want to keep a clear head) and alternating between funny stories about Holo and plans for future technology research. He takes the open chair between Yoo-jin and Nan-do, just far enough from the table that he’s not quite in the circle and not quite out of it either. And that’s how he treats the conversation, too; he responds amiably if addressed, but doesn’t speak up otherwise. He takes the beer Nan-do offers him, but hardly drinks any of it.

And Yoo-jin watches him with growing concern. 

As with last night, he goes to bed not long after nine, bidding them all a polite good evening, and Yoo-jin wonders if this is like the police station: if he’s just very, very good at pretending to be okay. Neither So-yeon or Jin-seok really react to his leaving, other than to tell him good night, but Nan-do sends a glance toward Yoo-jin, his brow furrowed. She returns his look, equally concerned.

So-yeon and Jin-seok are laughing about something, and Yoo-jin takes advantage of their distraction to lean toward Nan-do. “Holo said something to me this morning that alarmed me,” she says. “He said that when you all confronted Baek Nam-gyu here, what he said and did to Chan-sung was ‘undoubtedly painful for a human.’”

Nan-do scowls a little.

“What did he say?” she demands. “What did he do?”

“I wasn’t there for all of it,” says Nan-do. “But I can tell you that he beat Chan-sung with that cane he always carries.” He hesitates, and his expression grows somber. “I got the impression that it was not the first time he’d done that.”

Yoo-jin’s eyes widen. And then her expression takes on a determined set: she’s going to have a serious conversation with Chan-sung.

But she’s not going to go barging into his room while he’s getting ready for bed—especially not while he’s her guest. So she promises herself to wake up early enough tomorrow to catch him before he tries to run off again.

> > > > >

Her chance to talk to him ends up coming a lot earlier than that. Just after midnight, when Yoo-jin is just drifting off to sleep, her phone beeps: a notification from the security system telling her that an exterior door has just been opened. Sleepily she pulls up the video feed, and then smiles a little at what she sees. And then she climbs out of bed, throws on a light sweater, and goes downstairs.

The open door is in the basement of the reception area: the pleasant little space they use for receiving important visitors, the one where, what feels like a lifetime ago, she signed away ownership of GIO Labs to Chan-sung.

Maybe that memory is why he came here too. Because here’s the man himself, sitting on a pouffe that he’s dragged out of the double doors and into the sunken courtyard beyond. His head is tipped back, staring at the stars high above, and he doesn’t seem to have noticed her approach, giving her time to examine him. He’s in pajama pants and a tee-shirt—the first time she’s ever seen him anything but a suit—and his hair is tousled, and she’s struck by how young he looks. 

He jumps about a foot when he hears the beeping behind him, and she gives him an apologetic smile. “Alarm,” she says, gesturing to the keypad she’s just used to disarm the system. “In another five minutes, it would have called the cops.”

“Sorry,” he grimaces.

“Don’t be. You’re our guest; you’re welcome to go where you like.” She hesitates, then smiles a little. “Besides, I think you technically own this building.”

But instead of smiling at her joke, he winces, and she’s reminded that he’s been at a board meeting all day. “How are things at Magic Mirror?”

“Over,” he says quietly, his gaze on the floor. “The name is tainted; there’s no recovering from this. Investors are backing out right and left, and we’re just figuring out how to dismantle the company in a way that doesn’t toss too many people into the gutter. Before the courts swoop in and do it for us.” He glances up at her. “Legal is drawing up the documents to return GIO Labs to you.”

Her eyes widen in surprise, and she starts to smile; her smile widens when he adds “Although I know you’ve been unhappy here; I suppose you can turn it over to Nan-do” because it’s so sweet that he remembers that conversation. In fact, she decides that “sweet” is a good descriptor for him, which is weird, considering that it wasn’t that long ago that he was sending thugs after her and hers in order to steal the HoloGlass prototype.

“And what will you do?” she asks.

He gives her his most winning smile. “I’ll be fine,” he assures her. “I’ve always been a careful saver; I have more than enough to get by for a while until I figure out what I want to do next.”

And in the face of that deliberate smile, she is reminded once again of the police station, of the stoic facade he maintained around everyone else, and how that facade crumbled once he was alone. And she’s sorry that he feels the need to maintain that same facade now. She’s sorry that his life gave him so many opportunities to perfect it.

So she smiles back. “Can I sit?” She gestures at the pouffe he’s currently sitting on.

“Of course,” he says, surprised, probably because the thing is just a little too small for two people to fit on unless they’re sitting a little closer together than is polite.

She sits carefully by his side, not quite touching him, and smiles warmly. “I never did thank you for coming today.”

There’s genuine pleasure in his face at being thanked. “It was the least I could do.” But now that pleasure is waning a little. “Especially considering how many problems I’ve caused you.”

“Your father,” she corrects him. “How many problems your father caused me.”

“Yes, but I was his little lap dog,” Chan-sung responds bitterly. “I was the one forcing you to sign over your company.”

“Chan-sung—”

But his composure is dissolving. “We’re not friends,” he insists, the heartbreaking control in his voice slipping. “Not really. You know that, right? I only ever befriended you because my father wanted me to get closer to your company.”

“Of course I know that,” says Yoo-jin reasonably. “I’m not an idiot.” She turns so she’s facing the side of his body, pulling her legs up and crossing them on the pouffe, so her knee touches his and her face is close to his shoulder. “But was it because of your father that you helped me home when I was so drunk that night? That you confessed to me how terrible a father that man was? That you apologized after we met with our attorneys? That you warned us about the men after So-yeon? That you came here today to give me emotional support?”

Chan-sung stares determinedly down at his knees.

“I didn’t know your father’s plan, or the extent of his plotting, but I did always know you only befriended me for Magic Mirror’s gain. But that didn’t keep me from coming to enjoy your company, and I know it didn’t keep you from coming to enjoy mine.” She reaches out and carefully places a hand on his knee. “I kept answering your calls, and reaching out to you, and agreeing to spend time with you, because I felt that our fake friendship was turning into something real. And I suspect you felt the same.”

“You shouldn’t be so kind to me,” he mutters. “My family has caused so much pain and heartache for yours. It’s our fault Holo is gone.”

He’s not wrong, entirely, and for a moment there’s a stabbing pain in her heart as she thinks of Holo. She thinks that no one could fault her if she agreed with him and walked away, as he seems to keep trying to convince her to do. But it hasn’t escaped her notice that despite him saying everything he can think of to push her away, he’s turned a little in her direction, opening his chest up toward her, and his hand has slowly crept toward hers until their fingers are just millimeters from brushing. His words are meant to push her away, but his body language is saying that he desperately wants her not to go.

So instead of leaving, she moves her hand to cover his where it rests on his thigh. “What happened to Holo was awful,” she agrees. “But it’s your father’s fault, not yours.”

“I was my father’s willing accomplice,” he says, but she’s having none of it.

“You were a son desperate to get his father’s approval,” she corrects him. “Something you never got in your whole life. That’s his fault, too.” She thinks about mentioning the beating, but she’s not sure he’ll want to talk about it, so she says nothing. “And when you realized that what he was doing moved beyond corporate espionage to something worse, you turned on him and you helped us.”

“I still tried,” he says, and she’s not sure what he means until he adds, “Almost until the very end, I was still trying to talk him into stopping what he was doing. I still thought that maybe there was a happy ending for the Baek family. That I could say or do something and the loving father I always told myself was inside him somewhere would come out and we’d be okay.”

“Of course you’d think that,” she says softly. “He’s your father. It says a lot about your character and your loyalty that you’d try to save him. But he refused to be saved, and that’s not your fault.”

“If I’d been a better son—”

“You couldn’t have been a better son than you were,” she insists, and then repeats, “His bad behavior is not your fault. Trying to help people is usually the right choice, but if they’re too far gone, and they refuse to be saved, cutting ties with them may be your only choice to save your own health and happiness. You are not in the wrong here, Chan-sung.”

He glances quickly over at her, and she wonders if he knows how naked the desperation in his eyes is. And that’s what prompts her to say “And I’m proud of you. You chose a side, Chan-sung. You chose us. You are our friend, no matter how much you try to convince me otherwise. You’re one of us now.”

He takes a shuddery breath, and she tips forward the few inches to rest her cheek against his shoulder. As she does, the thought occurs to her: she’s wondered, a time or two, if what he feels for her moves beyond friendship. When they first met, he was always flirting, always asking her to dinner—just trying to get closer to GIO Labs, she knew perfectly well—but after that morning coffee date where they fought, the flirting has all but stopped. The sensible thing would be to assume that means he was never really interested in her, but the way he looks at her sometimes, the things he says sometimes . . .

The point is, if he’s interested, she wonders if what she’s doing is giving him undue encouragement. It’s not that she couldn’t look at him that way—she definitely considered it, after that night he told her about his childhood—but right now she is in no fit state to be thinking about that sort of thing. This physical contact right now—holding his hand, leaning her head against his shoulder—this is about him needing comfort and a gentle touch (something she suspects he’s rarely had in his life).

And yes, fine, maybe it’s about her needing comfort and a gentle touch too. Chan-sung smells amazing—has he always smelled this good?—and his t-shirt is soft against her face and his shoulder is reassuringly sturdy and she admits that she might need this contact just as much as he does.

The point is . . . she forgets what the point is.

They sit in silence a long time like this, until she hears Chan-sung breathe out another shuddery sigh; apparently the path his thoughts have taken is an emotionally fraught one. Without thinking, Yoo-jin lifts her free hand and starts rubbing his back— 

Only to have Chan-sung jerk under her hand, his breath catching in a sharp hiss of pain, and jump to his feet.

She stares at him.

“Sorry,” he says, sounding thoroughly embarrassed, and he stares at his feet.

The cane, she remembers. That was only yesterday, though it feels like a lifetime ago. And her heart breaks for Chan-sung all over again.

So she rises slowly to her feet. “Nan-do told me what your father did,” she says quietly. “Are you bruised?”

The shame in his eyes is overwhelming, and she hates that he feels so embarrassed for something that is absolutely not his fault, it’s that awful monster Nam-gyu— 

“Did he do that a lot?” she asks gently.

Chan-sung is perfectly still, his gaze fixed on the ground. And then he gives the tiniest nod.

Yoo-jin bites her lip, trying to get her emotions under control. And then she says, “I really want to hug you. But only if you want me to, and only if I can do so without causing you pain.”

His gaze flies to meet hers, and she reads shock and a shred of longing there. He’s silent a long moment, his eyes fixed on her face, and then he says hesitantly, “My neck and shoulders are okay.”

So Yoo-jin steps forward and throws her arms around his neck, and his arms come up to grip her tightly; she can feel his fingers twisting in her sweater, like he’s trying to hold on so tightly that no one can pull him away. So she pulls him in even tighter, and he pulls her even closer, and  they stand there like they’re trying to phase into each other’s bodies through sheer force of will.

And in that moment she makes a decision: she’s in no state to think about romance right now, and neither is he. But when things have settled down . . .

“Do you remember what I said that night?” she says. “Both of us, we take care of our companies, and no one takes care of us. But I said I would take care of you.” She curls her fingers into his t-shirt. “I still mean that. So please don’t run away. Please don’t disappear in the morning. Because I can’t take care of you if you’re gone. And you can’t take care of me.”

She feels him laugh. And then he says softly, “If you don’t want me to disappear, then I won’t disappear.” He hesitates. “I want to make amends to you and your brother and So-yeon. So I can stick around—”

“Stick around because we’re your friends,” she says. “Not because you think you owe us something.”

Chan-sung is still for a long moment. And then one hand comes up to gently stroke her hair. “Okay,” he agrees. “I’ll take care of you, and you take care of me.”

And Yoo-jin smiles.

> > > > >

So Chan-sung sticks around. He stays a month in the GIO Labs guest room, and becomes as much a part of the Ko siblings’ lives as So-yeon. He wakes up before anyone else to make breakfast and coffee in the morning, and he lets Yoo-jin teach him yoga, and they watch movies and play games and go out to eat together. He spends long hours chatting with Nan-do and Jin-seok about future research GIO Labs could do—his background may be in business, not computers, but he’s picked up a lot as VP of Magic Mirror, and he’s sharp as a tack—and when So-yeon proposes her Hello Glass idea, he spends even longer hours helping them work through all the details and the market research and the planning.

He does buy his own place eventually, but it’s only a ten-minute walk from GIO Labs, and he makes that walk nearly every single day (to the great relief of Yoo-jin, who was surprised by how sorry she was when he moved out of the GIO Labs building). His pro bono work for GIO Labs leads to him being recruited by another tech company to consult on a new product, and the next thing he knows he’s got a tidy little consulting business taking off. He also uses some of his money—he wasn’t kidding when he said he’s always been a careful saver—to invest in a few tech companies, GIO Labs included.

And most importantly, he heals. They all heal. Nan-do starts smiling again, and it becomes much less common for Yoo-jin to catch him staring sadly at the screens that Holo used to inhabit. So-yeon is as happy as Yoo-jin has ever seen her; getting the partnership with GIO Labs for Hello Glass is a major victory for her at work, and her face-blindness seems to be gradually lessening. She and Nan-do are disgustingly cute together, and sometimes when his face lights up around his girlfriend, Yoo-jin remembers the stone-faced little boy who first came to live with her family all those years ago and is amazed at how he has changed.

Nan-do and Yoo-jin have a very long talk about how he’s always thoughtlessly forced her into a position in this company that she never wanted, not really; he tells her he’ll understand completely if she wants to leave and do something else. She has a long hard think about this, and comes to the conclusion that she loves the Hello Glass idea, and the new direction that GIO Labs is taking, and she’s not ready to give that up. But Nan-do agrees to take on some of the responsibilities that have always stressed her out, and to give her more say and listen to her opinion more. He’s nicer to Jin-seok, too, and very supportive when his lead programmer starts dating Ji-na, the police detective.

And Chan-sung is happier these days, thanks to good friends and a good therapist and the passage of time. He smiles more easily. He doesn’t sink into a funk when someone mentions Holo or Baek Nam-gyu or Magic Mirror. He makes Yoo-jin laugh, and texts her just to see how she’s doing, and brings her soup when she’s sick, and buys her dinner, and lets her use his shoulder as a pillow when they watch movies.

And one evening, five months after they lost Holo, Yoo-jin decides she’s had enough tiptoeing around. She and Chan-sung are strolling along the riverwalk after dinner, and their hands keep brushing as they walk, and she finds she wants very badly to hold his hand. She wants him to put his arm around her and play with her hair and kiss her, and she thinks they’ve both taken plenty of time to heal.

So when they stop to admire a beautiful art installation of flowers suspended over the river, she takes her hand in his, and when he turns to her in surprise, she leans up—thank goodness for high heels—and presses a quick, gentle kiss to his mouth.

Chan-sung stares at her, his eyes wide and hopeful. “Are you sure?” he asks.

She nods.

And now he kisses her, much more thoroughly and enthusiastically than that first kiss, and she grins into the kiss and wraps her arms around his neck.

When they return to the GIO Labs building for a movie night that night and walk in holding hands, So-yeon sees them first and smiles quiet approval at them, and Nan-do smiles and tells Chan-sung that he’d better be good to his sister, and Jin-seok grins broadly.

But Ji-na the police detective, there on only her fifth official date with Jin-seok, looks a little confused. “The way you two act around each other, I thought you’d been dating all along.”

Yoo-jin just laughs at that. “I can see that,” she says. “This—” she lifts their joined hands— “is new.” And then she grins up at Chan-sung, who smiles down at her and she can practically see the cartoon hearts in his eyes. “But we’ve been looking after each other for a long time now.”

> > > > >

fin