Chapter 12: Chapter 12.
In high school, Shin Kim realized for the first time how scary an emotion could be. Since being little boy, swimming was part of his life and he had no doubt that it was going to be with him forever, like the air he breathed.
It was just a fact, nothing more nothing less.
It would’ve been a lie to say the training was easy, but the satisfaction he got from his achievements was more than enough to keep him going. He felt almost blissful at certain moments.
But an unexpected accident caused him to lose over half his lung capacity.
It was a hellish time for him during the recovery and a long time after. He developed a sudden hate for water. He even began to fear it.
His high school had an indoor swimming pool and smelling the chlorine everyday at school was a torture for him. There were more than a handful times when he had a panic attack and ended up fainting on the ground. After the accident, Shin swore that he would never let anyone or anything become such a huge part of his life. He didn’t want to waste his emotion and energy anymore.
This decision made him feel much lighter, like a burden had been lifted off his shoulders.
And from then on, his social life reflected the change in his life. He never again became too attached to anyone. He neither liked nor hated someone wholeheartedly. Just a lighthearted acquaintance was perfect for Shin, and it was also a good disguise to hide his intention. He could make friends or date someone without having the responsibility of a real relationship. He didn’t have to put any effort into it.
People liked spending time with Shin Kim. But if someone approached him for a serious and meaningful connection, Shin ran away in disgust and fear. He was afraid. He hated showing his scars and pain to anyone. He also hated seeing other people’s pain.
Just a shallow relationship. That’s all he wanted. No sharing of feelings, no deep connections.
Shin sighed as he stared down at his cellphone. It wasn’t a big deal to ask his co-worker Woojin to have lunch together. But strangely, Shin found himself hesitating.
It wasn’t that he was worried Woojin might reject him. In truth, Shin was worried about himself and what this could mean for him.
The more time they spend together, the more Shin would want. If they ate lunch together, Shin would want to spend time outside of work. If they did that, Shin would want to touch Woojin. And if he did that, Shin would want to have sex with Woojin.
Whenever Shin saw Woojin, he got the feeling that Woojin was gay. The fact that Woojin refused to have lunch with Chief Seulgi Kim… How he didn’t socialise with anyone at work… This was similar to how Shin’s gay friends lived their lives as well.
But his friends usually had extravagant nightlives.
“Hmm… Let’s not think too much of it.”
Shin was disturbed by himself for contemplating so much about having a simple lunch. Perhaps it would’ve been healthier to explore this feeling, but Shin ignored it for now.
He just wanted to have lunch with Woojin Choi, and that was all. And there were things he wanted to ask as well.
Did he eat the rice porridge? Was it good? Shin didn’t know why he was curious about these mundane things, but he was.
Shin finally texted Woojin.
-Assistant Manager Woojin Choi
Shin immediately went back to work. He had many tasks to finish that day. He also wanted to distract himself. Shin assumed it would take at least a little while till Woojin can check his phone and reply.
Shin decided to work on the weekly report and other minor excel files. He also had to finalize the paperwork for press release.
But he began to feel anxious immediately. He couldn’t help checking his phone again and again, and every time he did, he saw that his message still hadn’t been read by Woojin.
‘What’s going on? Why isn’t he checking my message?’
-Assistant Manager Woojin?
Dammit! He sent another message. As soon as he pressed “enter,” he realized that this was a bad idea. Why was he acting so impatient?
It had only been ONE MINUTE since he sent the first message! What an idiot he was.
Just then, like magic, the message he sent became marked “read.” It felt like hours, waiting for Woojin’s reply, but in fact, it was only a few seconds.
-Yes, Mr. Shin Kim.
-Do you have any plans for lunch today?
Dammit again! Shin sent a message immediately after Woojin’s message arrived. Now he was going to look desperate to Woojin. Shin closed his eyes in frustration.
-Do you want to have lunch with me then?
It seemed that Woojin was the type who replied quickly to messages. Shin began to feel nauseous with anxiety.
1 second, 2 seconds…
But there was no answer from Woojin. When he didn’t get an immediate reply all of a sudden, Shin became confused. His last message was marked ‘read,” so why wasn’t Woojin answering back?
1 minute passed by, followed by 15, and 30 minutes. Finally, Shin closed the messaging app.
‘Is he ignoring me?’
Woojin was a friendly easy type, but Shin was certain Woojin had been treating him with special interest.
Woojin definitely didn’t like getting involved with others. He avoided it at all costs. More than once, Shin witnessed Woojin shrinking when someone offered to shake his hand. Woojin also rarely left his office during work hours and seemed to dislike talking to anyone.
But that night they drank together… Things were different. Woojin Choi was different. Woojin may claim that he was too drunk to know what he was doing, but that had to be a lie.
Woojin kissed Shin’s neck. It really happened.
When he did, Shin could smell the mint scent from Woojin’s hair. Shin felt the veins in his neck throbbing; his whole body felt like it was going to explode from the pressure.
The way Woojin moaned… Woojin was definitely Shin’s type.
The way Woojin felt in his arms… He was so slim and fragile, but not like a woman. Woojin had a cold face, but the way he hung onto Shin…
Shin thought to himself, ‘I did think he resemble a fox even from the beginning, but…’
When Shin caressed his neck, Woojin shivered lightly and Shin found it so irresistible. When Shin helped him lay down on his bed, Woojin kept his arms around Shin’s neck and refused to let him go. Shin thought this was extremely adorable.
When Shin got closer, Woojin smelled of baby lotion. Shin couldn’t help but caress Woojin’s lips; if Woojin continued to hold on to Shin at that time, he would’ve kissed him.
This was a dangerous path. If they kissed, their tongues would’ve met. Their legs would become intertwined, and… Woojin’s legs were so slim. They were only legs, but just thinking about them made Shin’s body burn.
‘He is driving me crazy.’
Shin wasn’t a horny teenager or an animal in heat, but the excitement he felt in Woojin’s bedroom was overwhelming. Shin left in a hurry; he didn’t plan on having sex with a drunk person.
If he was going to sleep with anyone, it was going to be with someone who was wide awake.
Wait a minute… Was he thinking about having sex with… Woojin Choi?
What was he thinking?
“I’m going to lose my mind at this rate…”
It was already 11:40 AM. In 10 minutes, it was going to be lunch time. Shin hated eating alone, so he sent a message on a group chat that included his coworkers.
Minjae suggested a ramen restaurant near the office building. It seemed like Yeonwoo was going to go too.
Should he go? Shin hesitated, which was very unusual for him.
The truth was… This was the first time Shin felt this way about someone. When he first saw Woojin, Shin thought he was a strange and unpleasant person. The way Woojin stared at him was unnerving.
But after that office dinner, Shin began to feel differently. And after that night they drank together, a sudden but fierce emotion developed.
He should’ve just gone home… Why did he have to ask Woojin to go for a drink? Shin touched his forehead, which seemed hot.
‘And I need to stop picturing him…’
But it was too late.
Ever since he started working, Shin had been too tired and too annoyed to find a sex partner. He thought that perhaps if he just had a good one night with a stranger, this would all go away.
“Mr. Shin Kim.”
Dammit! Now he was hearing voices…
Shin slowly turned around, and because he didn’t expect Woojin to be standing there, Shin’s eyes widened.
Woojin was right there.
It really was Woojin Choi.
When the thought finally registered in his mind, Shin stood up.
“Oh, Assistant Manager Woojin.”
“I wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea to reply back with a message…”
“Oh, I see.”
“I will be ready in 10 minutes. Will you wait for me?”
When Shin nodded, Woojin thanked him quietly and left the marketing team office to return to his own.
One of the marketing department managers came to Shin quickly and in shock. He asked, “W-was that Assistant Manager Woojin Choi?”
“Oh my god! That was my first time seeing Assistant Manager Choi coming into this room. Even when he has to send documents to our department, he always sends it by fax! He is such a shy man.”
“Shin, are you friends with Assistant Manager Woojin Choi?”
Shin could neither nod nor shake his head. He felt like he was going to burst into laughter, so he just covered his mouth.