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Sweets and Spice

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He came to the convenience store every time she worked at eight o'clock.

Dan-bi would be restocking inventory after the dinner rush when she'd hear the bell chime to see Lee Do walk in, stop, and look around for her.

The way his eyes lit up made Dan-bi lose her focus and she had to avert her eyes to break the spell.

It's not him. This was her constant mantra every time he came to visit her.

She left the king behind in the past. No matter how much this Future Lee Do looked like the one she met in Joseon, that didn't make them the same person. Besides, according to history, the king had a nice life after she left. She needed to move on. For real.

By the time Lee Do was done shopping, Dan-bi was waiting for him at the register. The little things like the soccer ball tucked under one arm and his choice of instant food (the same spicy tteokbokki brand she'd introduced to the king) made her wonder.

Did Lee Do have memories of his past self? Or was it just a coincidence?

Ever since they had met again in the middle of the rain, Dan-bi had learned the following of this future doppelganger:

1) Lee Do was a first year in university studying mechanical engineering
2) He had a full-ride scholarship because of his soccer skills
3) He also seemed to have a posse but they all waited outside instead of coming into the store

Dan-bi scanned the two cups of instant tteokbokki and a carton of milk (probably to balance the spiciness). Remembering how the king believed she had put a curse on him made her giggle quietly.

"What's so funny?" Lee Do asked, leaning against the counter.

Biting her lip, Dan-bi shook her head. "N-nothing. I just remembered a friend of mine who can't handle spicy food that well."

"Are you laughing at the fact he's not used to it? That doesn't seem nice," he teased.

Dan-bi started packing the items in a plastic bag as Lee Do dug out a few bills to pay. Only after she had counted out the change did Dan-bi realize she hadn't even mentioned gender at all. "How do you know my friend is a guy?"

Lee Do took the plastic bag from her and slung it over one shoulder. "Lucky guess. See you tomorrow!" He walked backwards until he got to the door and waved widely like an excited kid.

Dan-bi watched him stand around outside swarmed by a bunch of guys and girls. She sighed wistfully wondering if would be a good idea to get to know him better. She couldn't really afford to get distracted with her college prep classes.

"Time to get back to work," she said to herself when something caught her eyes on the counter.

It was a small rectangle orange package the size of her hand. Did Lee Do leave it and forget?

She looked out the windows to see the group was starting to move. She had to catch Lee Do before he left with them.

Rushing to the front of the store, Dan-bi stopped at the threshold and called out to him. "You forgot something!"

Lee Do didn't stop though and shouted as he walked away, "It's for you!"

Leaning against the door, Dan-bi let curiosity win out and she unwrapped it to find more paper covering with gold tin foil.

She knew what this was. Her heart started to beat fast as she tore open the packaging.

Inside was a bar of chocolate separated into four small blocks, each with a single letter: L, O, V, E.

Dan-bi broke off the "L" piece and popped it into her mouth. The memory of kissing a king from the past accompanied the sweet flavor melting on her tongue.

She walked back to the register and set the chocolate bar on the counter when she noticed something else.

A phone number with a smiley face, the same one she'd drawn on a tangerine and drew out a pettiness in a certain king of Joseon.