Chapter 8: Chapter 8.
In the blue night…
Woojin was falling endlessly. His eyes were blurry and he didn’t know why. All Woojin could do was flail his arms, hoping to grab onto something. It felt like he was reaching the end of this fall soon, but he couldn’t breathe at all.
So Woojin gave up breathing, and when he raised his arm, a ray of violet light beamed out from his wrist.
This had to be a dream; it certainly felt like it. As he slowly lost consciousness, he noticed the blue night changing its color to violet. He felt dizzy.
“Assistant Manager Woojin Choi?”
“Assistant Man…. Woojin.”
Shin Kim walked towards him, calling out his name. Woojin was sure the area had turned completely violet, but when Shin came towards him, the place suddenly became blue again.
Shin approached him and held Woojin’s wrist. When he noticed that Woojin was panting, out of breath, Shin placed his other hand on Woojin’s heart and whispered with a frown, “Breathe.”
Shin’s lips touched Woojin’s, and the blue night engulfed Woojin.
Was he that tired?
The screen kept blurring in his eyes over and over again. The beginning of autumn was always a tiring time for Woojin, both physically and mentally. He couldn’t remember when it started, but at some point in his life, Woojin began to have difficulty tolerating the cold weather. His insomnia also got worse around this time.
Woojin was working overtime, and he began to see double on his screen. A headache was coming when suddenly, someone tapped his desk.
When he looked up, a familiar face appeared.
“Aren’t you going home?”
It was Jihoon Kang. He added, “You don’t drive, so what are you going to do if you can’t get a cab? It’s getting really late.”
Woojin finally looked at the time on his computer. It was already after 11 PM. When Woojin looked up at Jihoon again, he noticed that Jihoon’s usually neat hair was messy. His sleeves were also crumpled; Jihoon must’ve been working late as well. Woojin hadn’t even realized that Jihoon was in the room as well. Woojin stretched his arms and stood up. When he took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, Jihoon shook his head in disapproval.
“You look like you lost even more weight.”
“Stop nagging. It’s none of your business.”
“That’s your go-to answer for everything, isn’t it? Hmm…”
Jihoon was about to pat Woojin’s head, as he sometimes did, when suddenly, they both heard the light switch flicked off nearby.
The marketing department room’s light was being turned off. Unlike the policy department, which had less strict work hours, the marketing team was smaller and therefore each member had heavier workloads. Jihoon grinned and added, “The marketing team must’ve worked late too.”
“Hey, maybe Chief Seulgi was waiting for you!”
“I was just joking!”
Ignoring Jihoon, Woojin grabbed his briefcase and left the room quickly. He heard Jihoon running after him, “Hey! Wait for me!”
Woojin stood in front of the elevator quietly. Watching the red number reaching his floor, he organized his thoughts.
Was he hungry? He vaguely remembered eating some kind of a sandwich at lunch from the convenience store. He was sure he hadn’t eaten dinner yet, but he had no appetite. It was rare for Woojin to feel hunger.
The elevator door opened, and he was about to walk in when Woojin heard someone coming towards him while panting. Woojin was going to the main floor while Jihoon was going to the basement parking lot, so why was Jihoon so adamant about taking the same elevator? They were getting off at different floors anyway. Woojin sighed in annoyance and walked into the elevator.
The subtle scent of a man hugged Woojin’s shoulder and the elevator door closed behind them.
“Phew. Hello, Assistant Manager Woojin Choi.”
The man who was panting wasn’t Jihoon.
It was Shin Kim.
He continued his greeting, “I think it’s the first time we’ve seen each other today.”
As the elevator door closed, Woojin was sure he could hear Jihoon yelling after him. But Shin was pushing on the close button, rather than the open one. Woojin was surprised at Shin’s sudden appearance. Slowly, Woojin pointed at the door. Jihoon was yelling for them to keep the elevator door open…
Shin grinned broadly. “Oh, was Assistant Manager Kang behind us? Did he want to get on the elevator too?”
The way he smiled confirmed the fact that Shin knew Jihoon was behind him. When Woojin stared up at him in awe, Shin scratched his head casually and asked, “You must be going home now?”
When Woojin didn’t answer, Shin just kept smiling quietly. It didn’t seem like he was expecting an answer. Standing together, Woojin continued to stare at his face. Shin wasn’t looking back at him, but he seemed to know that Woojin’s eyes were on him.
Shin was so different than himself. Woojin was still staring at him when the elevator door opened at the main floor.
Woojin found even Shin’s shadow handsome. Woojin started to walk towards the entrance and Shin followed him from behind. Suddenly, Shin pointed at his chin and turned to Woojin, “Assistant Manager Woojin Choi.”
Woojin turned around to find Shin scratching his cheek awkwardly. After a short hesitation, Shin finally said to Woojin, “Well, it’s really late right now, but…”
Shin was blushing slightly, but his words sounded determined. Shin walked towards him and looked at Woojin’s eyes. When Woojin seemed confused, Shin continued nervously, “Let’s go for something to eat. Come with me.”
Woojin rarely felt thirst or hunger and that was why he was so thin. For a long time, never wanted anything.
But now, Woojin felt it. He was realizing, or maybe remembering, what longing felt like. The way Shin was looking at him made Woojin feel warm.
In his dreams, Woojin always ended up looking away from Shin’s stare. But this time, Woojin slowly nodded.
He felt hungry too. In fact, he was starving.
Woojin nodded a few times.