Chapter 7: Chapter 7.
Woojin couldn’t remember the last time he ate a full meal. During the last two days, he definitely didn’t eat much. He felt weak, too weak to go to the convenience store outside of the building, so he headed towards the company cafeteria.
It had been a long time since he came here. Most people ate in groups at this place, and it was also where his co-workers invited to join them for lunch. This was why Woojin rarely came here. It was an uncomfortable place for him.
It was especially a bad idea today because Chief Seulgi Kim asked him to eat lunch again. If she was in the cafeteria, it was going to be very awkward. Woojin walked even slower, but he had no choice but to eat.
He couldn’t afford to lose any more weight. He knew it instinctively that he had to eat to live. But when he looked down at his tray, Woojin sighed in distress. Just then, someone came up to him.
“Assistant Manager Choi, let’s eat together.”
The face he sometimes saw in his dream was looking down at him. The beautiful face amazed him and Woojin stared for a minute before nodding slowly. He knew that even if he shook his head, Shin would’ve still sat in front of him and started eating. But that didn’t matter because Woojin had no intention of rejecting Shin anyway.
Lately, Woojin hadn’t been dreaming about Shin, which bothered him. Whenever he saw Shin, he hurriedly ran away, but Woojin still couldn’t help but keep hoping to see Shin again and again. Woojin wondered that the reason why he didn’t dream about Shin anymore was because Shin finally appeared for real in front of him.
Shin started the conversation lightly, “I think this is the first time we are talking to each other since that office dinner.”
“Didn’t you miss me?”
Woojin was pushing around his food when he looked up in surprise. Shin smiled brightly at Woojin’s confusion. Whenever Shin smiled, adorable dimples appeared on his cheeks and his eyes narrowed teasingly. Shin looked much younger whenever he smiled.
When Woojin couldn’t respond, Shin continued, “We work on the same floor, yet we still don’t bump into each other often.”
“Is your hand ok?”
The burn happened a week ago, so Woojin forgot about it. He looked down at his finger and wondered if he put on any medication when he returned home that night. More likely, he just went to bed.
It didn’t take very long for the electrifying feelings to settle down. Woojin calmly replied, “I’m ok.”
“Are you a picky eater?”
Did Shin have a list of questions ready at all times? Woojin frowned at the constant questioning, making Shin smile again. Shin pointed at Woojin’s tray and explained, “I’m only asking because it looks like you aren’t eating much.”
“I will wait patiently until you finish, so you better eat all your food today!”
With that statement, Shin suddenly held Woojin’s wrist. When Woojin stared at him in surprise, Shin frowned unhappily.
“Your wrist is so thin. This won’t do.”
“Please don’t skip your meals. You look like you lost even more weight in the last week.”
After staring silently for a long time, Woojin asked, “Why do you care?”
People around Woojin always asked questions. Even though Woojin was not a very noticeable man, it still happened. There were, and will always be, people who showed interest in other people’s lives.
But that didn’t mean Woojin was obligated to answer them all. Woojin couldn’t understand these people, and he didn’t have to. Unlike these people, Woojin never wanted anything from anyone. One needed to be able to feel to want something.
But this time… Woojin wanted to be the one asking the question.
He looked at Shin, wondering if he was just dreaming or if this was really happening. He couldn’t tell, because even in his dream, Woojin was never able to say a single word to Shin.
“Should I not care then?”
“That’s not an answer.”
This time, it was Shin who was surprised. His eyes widened at Woojin’s response. Was Woojin becoming annoyed?
Woojin experienced difficulty in figuring out other’s emotions, but even a socially awkward Woojin could tell that Shin was interested in him. A shallow short-lived interest most likely, but an interest nonetheless.
Shin knew how rare it must be to have Woojin react at all, so this was an exciting interaction. Shin’s eyes shined with interest and… a need to get more out of Woojin.
When Shin didn’t reply, Woojin looked down at his tray again. He wondered if he was very bad at asking questions. Was he asking things that were too hard to answer? Whenever Woojin asked people something, which was very rare, everyone seemed to find it difficult to respond.
Just then, Shin answered, “It’s just that I find it interesting.”
“You stare at me every chance you get.”
Woojin looked at Shin, who wasn’t smiling this time. Shin was a guy who always made sure to consciously keep a smile on his face, but at this moment, he was frowning as he looked at Woojin. Shin continued, “You confuse me.”
Shin had an odd expression in his face. It was the exact same one Woojin saw in his dream one night. Shin’s eyes darkened.
“Every time you do that…”
“It makes me feel bad…”
“And strange at the same time.”
“I’m telling you, Assistant Manager Choi, that you make me keep thinking about you.”
Woojin continued to watch Shin until the odd expression disappeared from his face. Shin picked up his spoon and started to eat as if their conversation hadn’t happened. He added quietly, “The next time we meet, please tell me what you are thinking whenever you stare at me like that.”
Shin smiled again.
Woojin picked up a spoonful of rice and brought it to his lips. The warmth and the wonderful smell of it overwhelmed him, and for the first time in weeks, Woojin finally felt hungry.
And that day, Woojin finished his food for the first time ever. His tray was empty by the time he was done.