Chapter 23: Chapter 23.
“Assistant Manager Woojin?”
Did he really fall sleep? Shin looked down at Woojin who was laying on the sofa, deep in his sleep. Shin murmured, “Hmm… Shouldn’t he feel a little more excited around me? How could he fall asleep on our first date?”
Shin grinned and touched Woojin’s cheek. He must’ve been a deep sleeper. Woojin always looked so tired, and perhaps it was because he hadn’t slept very well lately.
For lunch, Shin made them curry but Woojin seemed to have no appetite. He ate very slowly, and as Shin watched him, he decided that next time, he should try making pasta.
Shin murmured again, “He is sleeping so soundly.”
The movie was pretty good, but Shin didn’t pay attention to the TV. He wanted to study Woojin’s face instead, so Shin turned the TV off. The living room became very quiet, and for some reason, Shin felt a bit tense. Slowly, he stroked Woojin’s forehead.
“… So white.”
Woojin’s skin was unusually pale as if he had never seen the sun before. Shin traced the blue vein that showed through the pale skin on Woojin’s forehead. He also had long eyelashes and underneath his eyes, Shin noticed a few brown freckles. It was so adorable that Shin couldn’t help but trace them as well. When he did, Woojin moaned a little as if he felt ticklish.
Woojin was wearing a casual outfit, and it was the first time Shin saw him looking like this. A comfortable mandarin collar shirt. The 30-year-old Woojin looked like a college student.
“… So cute.”
From a first glance, there was nothing cute about Woojin, but the more he got to Woojin, the more Shin found him to be adorable. Behind his cold and indifferent expression, Woojin had a very soft and gentle side to him. Realizing the fact that only he knew the real Woojin, Shin felt his body burn again.
Shin caressed Woojin’s forehead and held his cheeks. Woojin moved a little, revealing his white slim neck to Shin.
Shin felt a sudden urge to kiss his neck. The tight collar looked so uncomfortable around Woojin’s neck that Shin slowly began to undo a few of Woojin’s buttons. Soon, Woojin’s collarbones were revealed.
Underneath the collar bones, there was a long scar. It was so big that Shin suspected it must’ve taken quite a number of stitches to close. Against Woojin’s porcelain skin, the scar looked very red. The shape of it looked like it was a large cut.
It must’ve been very painful. Shin touched it gently and just then, the cellphone that was left on the table started to ring loudly.
Woojin opened his eyes and when he noticed Shin looking down at him, Woojin’s eyes widened. He pushed Shin away with both of his hands and Shin ended up falling off the sofa. Woojin looked down at his shirt, which was unbuttoned. He then looked at Shin and Woojin’s face crumpled into a frown.
Shin stammered, “Umm… I….”
Watching Shin become pale, Woojin shook his head. He stood up from the sofa and grabbed the cellphone. The number that called started with 0049. Woojin took a deep breath and slowly opened his mouth, “You should go home now.”
“… Assistant Manager Woojin?”
“I’m really sorry, but I think you need to go now.”
Shin suddenly felt cold. There was nothing he could do as Woojin went into his bedroom without looking back.
That was the end of their weekend.
It was past midnight but Woojin was still in his chair at work. Jihoon put on his jacket and asked Woojin, “Aren’t you going home?”
It was rather hot until last week, but fall was almost here and it was beginning to feel chilly at night. Woojin took off his round silver-framed glasses and turned around to face Jihoon. Woojin looked tired and his eyes looked a bit bigger; it was because Woojin was losing weight.
“Hey, but the way, why don’t you go out for lunch nowadays? You used to until recently, right?”
“And stop working so late every day. You look awful.”
Jihoon peaked into the marketing team office and continued, “Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen Shin Kim much lately. He used to come to you every lunch period.”
“I heard that Shin Kim is really popular. Yesterday, I went to dinner with the HR and general affairs teams and all the female staff could talk about was him. Apparently, he used to be an athlete, right? I can’t remember what sports he played…”
“Oh, yeah, swimming… Hmm…”
When Woojin knew the answer, Jihoon grinned at him. Woojin ignored him and rubbed his eyes tiredly. Jihoon added, “Stop skipping meals. You need to eat more. You are getting thinner and it doesn’t look good.”
Jihoon slowly turned around and walked away. Within a few minutes, the office lights turned off. The lights were on an automatic schedule. Inside the office, only Woojin’s computer screen lit the room.
Against the bright light of his computer, Woojin looked even paler.
He covered his forehead with his hand and closed his eyes. He saw that the marketing team’s office had been empty for a while now.
Woojin was new to this kind of relationship, or any kind to be honest. It had already been a week since that weekend. Shin no longer texted Woojin for lunch. He stopped texting Woojin completely.
It was amazing how a relationship could heat up so fast, then become cold in a second. Woojin thought that perhaps the reason why he avoided developing relationships with people was because he didn’t want to experience the feelings he suffered right now.
He felt like he was suffocating. Woojin couldn’t eat at all. He continued to lose weight and his insomnia grew worse.
Whenever he did manage to fall asleep, the dream haunted him. Inside this dream, Shin looked young like a little boy. Woojin felt like he was drowning in boiling water, so he would close his eyes. Inside his dreams, Shin made Woojin’s thirst become much worse.
During the last week, when Woojin’s didn’t get to see Shin Kim, he often found himself losing focus and just staring his computer blankly.
Strangely, Woojin wanted to see him, yet he also believed that it would be ok not to ever see Shin again. It was a strange, conflicting feeling. But one thing was for certain. Since he met Shin, many things have changed. The passing time seemed to feel awkward to Woojin. He always thought he had all the time in the world, but since he met Shin, time seemed to go by much faster.
The time he didn’t get to see Shin.
The time he didn’t get to spend with Shin.
The uneasiness of it made Woojin feel strange.
The heat inside of him continued to burn. Woojin felt like he was falling over and over again. He was thirsty, and he kept remembering Shin’s breath and scent.
Another day went by, just like that.