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The world doesn’t stop for anyone—this is the biggest thing she’s learned since she started working at the ER.

Even if your heart shatters into tiny pieces; even if your whole world feels like it’s falling apart; even if your dreams are crashing to the ground, the world will continue to spin and move on. It doesn’t slow down to give you enough time to process, feel, and accept. The world will still turn no matter how much you want it to stop.

This is a thing she learned the hard way. When she lost Chaeyoung. When she lost her dad. When her family threw her out. When she learned the truth about her ex-lover’s death. When her girlfriend ran out of her apartment crying her heart out. 

If she had the option to have a superpower, she’d want one that will enable her to stop time, to allow the world to slow down just for a bit, and allow her to catch up. She wants to be able to run after Irene, tell her she’s here for her and that this truth doesn’t change anything. But she doesn’t have a superpower. She’s just a normal girl, trying to live life the best way that she can, trying to overcome her personal trauma so she could live a happy life with the people she loves.

“We are telling the wife today,” she hears someone say, snapping Wendy out of her own thoughts. It’s Dr. Im, briefing them all about today’s case.

“Are you absolutely sure you have done everything?” the Chief asks, looking around the small room as if she’s talking to each and every one of them.

Dr. Im nods, “He is not responding to medications. It’s really just downhill from here.”

Wendy’s hand shakes for a bit, everything about this hospital feels just a little bit too close to home. She distracts herself by looking around the small room. Along with Dr. Im and the Chief, she’s also here with Dr. Myoui, discussing the patient that came to the ER about two days ago. 

Ahn Yongsik, 87.

He has been diagnosed with advanced cancer a year ago but his health has been declining and he hasn’t been responding to treatment. Two days ago, he was sent to the ER because his vitals dropped. Since then, he has been in an almost vegetative state.

Today, they are going to talk to his wife about hospice, a kind of care for terminally ill persons who have a prognosis of less than six months. In hospice, all medications for the illness will stop. Instead, the caregivers will only be treating symptoms. 

Hospice care accepts death as something inevitable and that the patient is in the final stage of life. Its goal is to make the patient as comfortable as possible, merely affirming life but doesn’t hasten nor postpone death.

“What’s the prognosis?”

Dr. Im lets out a heavy breath, “Three months.”

Dr. Kim turns to both Wendy and Mina, and the former instantly senses a shift in mood. This is going to be a teaching moment. “Have you given end-of-life notice in any of your cases in the past?” the Chief asks.

Both the residents shake their heads.

Wendy swallows an invisible lump in her throat.

The Chief nods in understanding before she summons for the two residents to sit by the nearby sofa. She then takes a seat on the small bench across them so she is facing both of them.

The Chief looks them in the eyes, her expression firm and serious, “When patients with illnesses like this come to the ER, they don’t know what to expect. They have expectations, positive expectations and when they talk to the doctors, they expect answers. They expect a cure. They do not expect you to tell them that they’re dying. Their loved ones do not expect you to tell them that the person they love most in the world is about to be taken away from them.”

Great, Wendy thinks.

Just great .

She feels Mina release a heavy breath next to her, the weight of this news hanging heavy on her shoulders.

Wendy bites the inside of her cheeks, trying to keep her composure. They’ve been monitoring this patient since he came in but now it’s come to this.

The Chief continues, “You could attend a hundred lectures or listen to a dozen speeches about talking to patients and their families about death but it doesn’t get easier. You’ll never get used to it. When you tell someone that the person they love has died or is about to die, it is not about a script or a checklist of what you should and shouldn’t say.”

Just like that, Seungwan is back to that day—the day when Jongin walked into the room to tell her that Chaeyoung is gone.

You might want to sit for this, Seungwan.

Wendy thinks that maybe, she shouldn’t have come to work today. But she also recognizes that maybe, staying at home alone is worse.

It has been almost two days since she learned about the news and since she saw Irene running out on them. Two days and she’s heard nothing from her. Wendy gives her space because that’s what you do, right? 

When a person is overwhelmed by the truths they learn about their life, you give them space to process. You give them space to grieve the person that they were before they learned about the truth.

“It’s certain that everybody’s going to die. What we don’t know for sure is when it’s going to happen. To some degree, people don’t think about death all that much. But you’re going into that room later, to tell his wife of 50 years that... that time has come,” the Chief explains.

  Park Chaeyoung’s parents called me.

“Right now, our focus is to give Ahn Yongsik a good death and as for his wife, all we can give her is a moment. They’ve been married 50 years and the three of you will walk into that room to tell her that she can no longer make plans with him anymore.”

Something about that last part stings.

The Chief gives them a moment to process. 

With a family full of doctors, Wendy grew up hearing stories about how people die, about how families accept death, and how it doesn’t get easier. Yours is the face they will remember for a really long time, when all that grief starts to settle in, they will remember you, your voice, and your words, she heard her dad tell her brother once.

There were too many family dinners where all the adults in the house talked about their patients, about their stories, their families—and Wendy sits there next to Naeun, both of them too young to really understand, and they wonder how families go on after someone they love dies.

Wendy has several answers to that now. Maybe her experiences will help her become a better doctor.

Maybe not. 

She can’t forever find a silver lining in all her sufferings.

Chief Taeyeon continues, “They met you for the first time two days ago. Before that, they had this nice, little life and they had daily routines. They have an entire life not knowing you. And the next thing they know, they walk into this hospital so you could tell them the worst news of their life. I need you to understand the importance of this moment.”

She got into a car accident earlier today. 

Seungwan feels her throat tighten a bit, her eyes stinging with a threat of tears.

“You will walk into that room with compassion and understanding. Reactions vary from person to person but you have to acknowledge that this person’s grief is the most important thing in that moment. Do you understand?” the Chief asks.

Both residents merely nod.

Seungwan remembers it being a fine day. It was a little past lunchtime and Seungwan was sitting in the living room of their modern high-ceiling penthouse somewhere in the most expensive area of Cheongdam. She remembers looking out their floor-to-ceiling windows, basking in the unobstructed view of the Han River.

She was waiting for Chaeyoung’s call that morning. The last message she received from the girl was on Graduation Day when she congratulated her. She never heard from her since then.

It should’ve raised suspicion, really, but she held onto the fact that the Parks knew about their relationship. If something happened, they would’ve called her already. They would’ve let her know.

But she didn’t receive any calls.

Maybe Chaeyoung is just mad at her. Maybe she’s grounded. Maybe she lost her phone or something. There has to be some sort of an explanation. 

Seungwan remembers the front door clicking and soon after, his brother entered the house. He was in a neat all-black suit. He looked smart and sharp. Yet, when he approached Seungwan, the younger Son immediately saw the cracks through his thin armor. Whatever he had to say, it’s not good. 

At that moment, something in Seungwan’s gut stirred. She knew she was gonna get bad news. But nothing could’ve prepared her for what he was going to say next.

She’s gone. She was dead on arrival, Seungwan.

She remembers collapsing to the ground, her whole body shaking as she sobs. She doesn’t understand, doesn’t know how to process this.

They were fine the other day, laughing and so optimistic about the world waiting for them.

And now, she’s gone?

She remembers sobbing until her tears dried out. She remembers being lifted off the floor as her brother carried her to the room. She remembers holding on to him tight, trying to make sense of that pain. He didn’t say anything. He held Seungwan until she fell asleep.

When she woke up, he was there. When he told her that Chaeyoung’s parents decided not to have a funeral, he stayed to join Seungwan in her anger. 

She remembers all of these things and they’re not even real.

What is she supposed to do?

How is she supposed to feel?

.

They—Dr. Im, Wendy, and Mina—stop at the small coffee shop by the hospital’s lobby before they make their way to the ICU where Ahn Yongsik is. Her day is starting quite unexpectedly somber and she thinks that maybe, this is the universe’s way of cooperating with her. 

“Expect an influx of patients today,” Dr. Im tells them as she scans the small dessert display while waiting for their coffee. “An apartment building near Hyemin Hospital had a carbon monoxide leak so their ER will be prioritizing patients that will be coming in from that incident. They will re-routing all non-critical emergency cases to us since we’re the closest to them. I’ve instructed all attendings that the ER is the priority for today.”

Wendy and Mina only nod, the gravity of the situations being handed to them today slowly dawning in on them.

“After we talk to Ahn Yongsik’s wife, we head straight to the ER,” the older woman says. She then walks back to the counter and orders a pastry.

After a couple of moments, she turns back to them. “You two are awfully silent today,” she observes. “Well, Dr. Myoui has always been a bit on the quiet side but you,” she points at Wendy, “you’re acting weird.”

The doctor in question shakes her head, doing her best to put her best I’m-doing-fine face, “I’m just in my feelings about the Ahn situation.”

Dr. Im doesn’t look convinced but she doesn’t prod, “It’s the hardest part of the job. Sometimes, even after everything, you still can’t save everyone. What the Chief mentioned earlier, a good death —sometimes, that’s the only thing we can do.”

Shifting on her feet and with her hands both in the pockets of her coat, Mina asks, “Do you remember all of them?”

“All of what?”

“The patients you’ve lost.”

Dr. Im smiles sadly, “When you work at the ER, you have the highest body count out of all the doctors you know. I do not remember their name but I do remember their faces. Their families. When you lose someone in the ER, you see someone at their worst state and they pass. It then becomes your job to tell their loved ones how that final moment went for the person they love who they’ve just lost forever.”

Wendy sucks in a breath and tries to calm herself down. This is not happening to her. 

When both residents seemed to have been affected by the sad and profound way they’re starting their shift today, Dr. Im tries to lighten up the mood. “It’s only your fourth time in the ER, right, Dr. Myoui?” the attending asks, attempting small talk.

Mina nods shyly, “Yes, Dr. Im. It’s just the fourth time.”

“Ah, are you liking it so far?” she asks.

The other resident hesitates for a moment, shyly ducks her head.

Despite herself, Wendy chuckles, “You can be honest with Dr. Im.”

Mina turns to her with questioning eyes as if asking if it’s okay and Wendy only gives her a nod of encouragement.

With a little more confidence she got from Wendy, Mina answers honestly, “I wouldn’t say I prefer it but I appreciate the time I spend there learning.”

Dr. Im laughs, “You’re too nice, Dr. Myoui. It would actually be weird if you said you liked the ER. The ER is hell for residents.”

“My training is just really different from the kind of quick thinking that the ER requires.”

“Right,” the older doctor nods just as the barista serves them their drinks. “You’ll get used to it. Not every resident is built for it but you all have to go through it.”

“I understand.”

“Dr. Son is among the rare breed of doctors who actually like it.”

Wendy forces a smile, not really in the mood to talk. She hopes the world forgives her if she’s not feeling chirpy today.

As they head toward the ICU, Wendy fishes her phone from the pocket of her coat and then checks her notifications.

No messages from Joohyun.

She releases a sigh.

It’s gonna be a long day.

.

Later that day, she finds herself huddled with Mina and Dr. Im just outside the ICU. There, they meet an older doctor that Wendy hasn’t worked with before. The guy is probably in his mid-fifties, his wrinkled face and his old-school frameless glasses making him look experienced. He is wearing a suit under his white coat. 

 Soon as he approaches, even Dr. Im bows before him and so do Wendy and Mina.

“Thanks for coming with us today, Dr. Cha.”

“I don’t like it when I get a call from you,” he says, smiling sadly. Wendy sees a little bit of her dad in him.

“I don’t like when I have to call you,” Dr. Im banters. She then gestures to Wendy and Mina. “These are Dr. Son and Dr. Myoui, they’re the residents assigned to this case.”

Both residents bow again when the senior doctor acknowledges them. 

Dr. Im speaks again, “This is Dr. Cha Donghyun. He is a Palliative Care Physician who specializes in end-of-life care. He is here to have the hospice discussion after we open it to the wife.”

“Insook,” Wendy mutters. 

“What? I didn’t quite catch that,” Dr. Im clarifies.

“Seo Insook is the wife’s name,” Wendy reminds them, uncomfortable with the way they keep referring to her as the wife

“Got it,” Dr. Im smiles gently. After a second, she sighs, “Let’s go.”

They all then walk into the ICU and head straight to Ahn Yongsik’s room. As they step into the room, Wendy immediately sees Insook seated by the chair next to the patient’s bed.

Insook is a tiny woman in her late sixties, tons of life still in her but the sadness in her eyes gives it away. They catch her looking at her husband, her hands locked with his. She looks miserable, like her whole body is in pain. It’s like her body has been giving her warnings of what’s about to come.

She looks like she knows it, too.

Yongsik is lying on the bed with all sorts of machines attached to his thin body. He is unconscious and the silence of the room easily exposes the sound of his breathing, making it more obvious that he is struggling.

“Hi, Insook,” Dr. Im greets quietly as she approaches her. “How are you?”

Wendy sees tears well up in the woman’s eyes but she tries to blink it off as she looks up at Dr. Im. “Let’s not ask… questions like that,” she says, her voice breaking mid-sentence.

“I know,” Dr. Im empathizes, her voice just a little low and breathy. 

Dr. Im then turns to the patient, “Yongsik-ssi, this is Dr. Im. I am here with other doctors.”

He doesn’t respond at all, no movement whatsoever.  All they hear are the machines that keep on beeping.

“It’s been… like this…” Insook says, her lips quivering in sheer heartbreak. Her eyes instantly land on her husband.

Out of words, Dr. Im merely puts a hand on Insook’s back, drawing random patterns with her palms in an attempt to comfort her. Insook, also at a loss of words, releases a shaky breath.

Next to Wendy, she could feel Mina stiffen a bit.

The room is filled with Insook’s anguish. It’s hard to see someone watch their loved one slowly disappear. Wendy could feel tears prick at her eyes, too.

She could tell Insook is trying to hold it together. The tears in her eyes aren’t falling quite just yet but her lips and her hands are shaking. She knows why they’re here. She knows what they are going to say.

“I don’t like it,” she says, turning to Dr. Im and meeting her eyes. 

“I know you don’t.”

“I don’t like it at all.”

“Insook-ssi, I don’t think we can get him back to your hometown. I think he’s gonna stay here for quite some time.”

Insook looks up, trying to stop her tears from falling, “I know. Deep in my heart, I think I knew he wasn’t gonna come home with me.”

Then, there it is, just a few hiccups later, Insook starts crying. All the doctors could do was stand there with their heads down. It is an excruciating experience to be in the same room as someone whose agony is too big for them to process. 

Four doctors are in the room and none of them could do anything. It is a humbling realization that despite all the experience and all the education, you can’t save everyone.

After a few moments, Dr. Im discusses every detail of his case. She explains why they no longer can’t put his body through treatment. She goes through every detail from his vitals to the medications, all the way up to what’s going to happen once they take him out of his medications. She thoroughly discusses managing his symptoms once he is out of treatment.

Eventually, they get to the discussion about hospice care in which Dr. Cha steps in and discusses it with her.

Insook calms down at some point, her tears coming to a halt. She listens to Dr. Cha’s recommendations, something that the senior doctor explains with care. He speaks slowly and empathetically, no air of arrogance whatsoever. 

She wonders at that moment if… had she learned about Chaeyoung’s death properly, would it change a thing? Would it hurt less then? Would it hurt less now?

It’s pointless to wonder about these things because there are no answers. Back then, she didn’t see any value in dwelling in her pain. There was no one to blame. It was an accident. Her parents didn’t want a funeral. 

Did they strip her off of the right to bid goodbye to her? Yes. Would saying goodbye bring her back? No. Could saying goodbye have helped her get past her death? Probably.

The only goal for Seungwan then was to move forward. She didn’t have a plan in place. She didn’t apply to any universities because she was sitting the year out. She was going to wait a year until Chaeyoung takes the full ride at a school in Los Angeles and they’ll take up music together. 

Then, Chaeyoung died and Seungwan was left with nothing but an empty year ahead. What was she going to do? Stay put for a year and cry? Think about her dead girlfriend every day?

Of course not. She wasn’t gonna dwell in it. Chaeyoung wouldn’t have wanted her to. Chaeyoung would want her to move on.

So, she did. 

Her objective was simple: take one step at a time until Chaeyoung’s death is so far from her that she doesn’t see it anymore, to a point where she stops turning around with her heart racing because she thought she heard her call her name. 

There should be a rule book for grief—a statute of limitations where it says that you can cry every night and every morning but only for a limited time. Maybe a month or so. There should be this system that stops you from hearing their voice in your head every time you see something that vaguely reminds you of them.

But it doesn’t work like that. 

She thinks about Chaeyoung. She thinks about all the life left in her. All her light, her dreams, her potential. She thinks about all the versions of her that she can never be any more.

She thinks about Insook. She thinks about Yongsik. All the plans they made. All the things they would no longer be able to enjoy together.

Wendy thinks about Joohyun. She thinks about Joohyun’s parents. She thinks about the last nine years her girlfriend spent certain about their death and now, her whole world has changed.

Now, she mourns the death of her parents again.

Is she doing okay? Is she crying? Is she eating?

Is she sinking back to herself, ready to undo all the progress she’s made?

Wendy looks up, cries for a silent prayer in her head.

.

So far, her day has been… well, shit . It’s like the universe gathered every single bad thing it could and scheduled them all today. The aftermath of Chanyeol’s findings. Joohyun’s radio silence. The bad news about her patient.

She’s afraid to think what else could go wrong because who knows what cards are still in play.

Wendy sighs as she stares at her phone. She’s waiting by the Nurse’s Station of the ER. She’s on standby as Dr. Im and Dr. Myoui attend to their patients.

Joohyun still hasn’t called her or texted her.

She couldn’t blame her. A revelation like that must’ve been a lot to take.

Wendy doesn’t really know where they stand.

As she sits there quietly keeping to herself, her mind wanders to everything that’s happened. Meeting Ryujin. Learning about Chaeyoung being a donor. The police report. All the redacted information on the said police report. The whole truth about her ex-lover’s death.

Everything she knew about her biggest heartbreak is a lie.

She’d cried and bled to become the person she is today despite the grief that holds her body down every day—and yet, in the end, it’s all a lie. Now, the truth is here and she should be mad but she feels… nothing . She’s sad and shocked, and she has so many questions but it is scary how absolutely unfazed she is of this. 

She is confused, sure. She also has a lot of questions, sure. But after learning everything, she realizes she knows nothing. Maybe, this is why her body doesn’t know how to react. Truly a woman of science and answers, Seungwan’s knee-jerk reaction is to try to piece everything together.

But how does she do that?

Right now, this truth feels hollow—or maybe her mind just hasn’t caught up yet. Well, it’s only nine in the morning. Plenty of room today for an emotional breakdown.

“Dr. Son, the patient in bed two is yours,” a nurse’s voice snaps her out of it. The nurse then hands her an H.I.S tablet.

She only nods to confirm she heard her and then stands to make a move.

Life goes on after all.

.

As Wendy walks toward Bed #2, she quickly glosses over the Patient Record through the tablet. 

Jon Iseul, a nine-year-old girl with back pain. 

Back pain in kids is not common so cases like this usually make doctors worried. 

“Hi, I’m Doctor Son,” she introduces herself as she walks over to Bed #2 and sees the patient lying on the bed, already in a patient gown. She’s reading a children’s book. Her father stands up from his place by the edge of the bed and bows at Wendy. She turns to him, “I’m her doctor.”

He bows again, “Hello, Doctor Son. I’m Jon SungChul, I’m her father.”

Wendy observes him for a moment. He’s in casual attire, a pair of simple pants and shirt that looks like he haphazardly threw together before coming to the ER. His hair is a bit mussed, the bags under his eyes are noticeable.

The doctor then turns to the patient, “Hi, Iseul. I’m Doctor Son.”

The girl smiles, more of winces, then greets her back, “Hello, Doctor.”

“Can you tell me what hurts?”

“My back hurts,” she cries before making a move to sit. Her father immediately assists her.

“When did this pain start?” Wendy asks the father.

Once her daughter is up and sitting, the father responds, “It started last night. But two days ago, she hit her back hard when she was playing ssireum with her older brothers.”

Ssireum. Korean wrestling.

She instantly looks at Iseul’s frame. She is quite tiny to be playing ssireum with her older brothers who might be twice her size.

The surprise must’ve shown on Wendy’s face because the father immediately follows up with an explanation. He chuckles, embarrassed, “I know you’re probably wondering why a girl was playing such a game with her brothers. But her brothers are ssireum athletes and she looks up to them. She wants to do what they do so they play around all the time. They’re always careful with her so this one’s the first time.”

Wendy nods, “I understand. I didn’t say girls can’t play ssireum .” She winks at the patient, “I’m worried about her size because she’s a bit tiny to be wrestling with her brothers. Ssireum has four different weight classes for that reason.”

“But I am strong!” the patient protests, raising her hand in the process. The movement makes her wince and cry in pain. “Ahhh!”

“Okay, careful now,” Wendy immediately huddles over the patient. “Can you show me exactly where it hurts?” 

The patient nods as she reaches out to her back and points to the middle portion. With the degree of pain she was exhibiting, Wendy is expecting there to be some kind of bruising, probably a hematoma or a deformity to signify an external injury but when she takes a look, she sees nothing. Not even a sign of discoloration. 

“Did it hurt when you fell?” she asks the patient, still examining the supposed location of her injury.

“It hurt for a while but it went away,” the kid replies. “Will I still be able to play with my brothers?”

“We need to know first what’s really causing this pain so we can treat it properly, okay?” Wendy responds.

The patient nods sadly.

The doctor then lets go of the tablet at hand and starts putting mild pressure on her back, “Does it hurt when I press around here?”

“No.”

That’s odd.

“Alright, Iseul. Will you put your feet on the side of the bed?”

Iseul bobs her head as she makes a move and turns to her side. She sits on the side of the bed facing Wendy, her legs dangling in the air. As she does, Wendy observes that she moves with ease. No visible issues with motor movement.

The doctor then kneels in front of the patient and places her hands by her calves, “Now, will you push really hard against my hands, please?”

The patient does so without any issues.

“Wow, you are strong!”

“I told you, I’m strong. I almost always beat NamKyu oppa when we play.”

“That’s impressive,” Wendy commends as she stands up and once again takes ahold of the H.I.S tablet. She takes a moment to log her observations.

A kid in this much pain without any external symptoms—this is a cause for concern.

“I’m going to order an x-ray so we could take a look at her back,” she tells the dad. The man responds with a frantic nod. She then turns back to the patient, “Have you had an x-ray before?”

“No. What’s that?”

The father interjects, “NamKyu had one before, do you remember? When he broke his leg?”

“Oh—I remember. He said it was cool.”

“It is so now, you get to be cool.”

The kid smiles, “Okay.”

“I’ll just order the tests by the Nurse’s Station so any minute soon, someone will come in here to get you, okay?”

“Thank you, Doctor Son.”

Wendy smiles one last time before she walks back to the Nurse’s Station. There, she immediately sees Dr. Myoui with a worried look on her face.

“I know that man,” Mina tells her soon as she’s within earshot.

“Jon Sungchul?”

“Oh—I didn’t know his name. I just recognized him from my intern year at the cancer ward. He was there every day with his wife.”

“Oh.”

“His wife didn’t make it. Left him with three kids.”

Wendy immediately feels bad for him, “That’s really sad.”

“I hope the kid is okay.”

“I hope so, too.”

Wendy then orders some ibuprofen to manage the kid’s pain and then tells the nurse to page her when the x-ray results are up.

A sigh.

Please don’t let this be another bad news.

.

A few minutes later, Jisoo finds her by the deserted hallway near the ER, sipping on a box of banana milk. She’s sitting by an old, unused gurney, just having a moment to herself. 

Well, before Jisoo found her.

“Hey,” Jisoo announces her presence as she approaches Wendy.

This is the same hallway that she found herself in with Chief Kim Taeyeon when Jisoo was going through it. This time, she’s the one hiding.

“This is a cool hiding spot,” the older doctor smiles.

“Do not tell anyone about this place.”

“I wouldn’t—if the price is right.”

Wendy rolls her eyes as she reaches out to her pocket and pulls a bill. She hands it over to Jisoo who grins and then immediately heads to the vendo machine, “Oooh, the selection is impeccable.”

Managing a small laugh, Wendy rolls her eyes at her friend’s antics. Jisoo purchases a bottle of an energy drink and then walks back to Wendy. She hops on the gurney and takes the spot next to her.

“What’s up with you?” Jisoo asks nonchalantly, pulling at the bottle cap of her drink.

“What do you mean?”

“I notice things, Wendy. Something’s eating up at you.”

“You don’t know that.”

“First of all, you didn’t bet with us this morning. Second, you’re not talking a lot which is really telling. And lastly, you’re sulking.”

“I’m not sulking.”

Jisoo only shrugs as she takes a small sip from her drink.

Silence envelopes them for a while, both women allowing themselves to soak in each other’s presence.

“People like you are so weird,” Jisoo remarks.

Wendy turns to her pointedly, “Why would you say that?”

“You’re always there for other people, always telling them it’s okay to ask for help—and yet, when you’re the one who needs it, you lock yourself in.”

Feeling called out, Wendy doesn’t respond. Jisoo is good at reading people.

“I’m fine.”

“Girlfriend problems?”

“I’m not telling you anything—”

“—so there’s something to tell?”

“No, I—” Wendy releases a frustrated sigh.

“Fine,” Jisoo gives up, throwing her hands in the air dramatically. “I won’t force you to say anything. I’m just saying you don’t sulk around for anything else. You could literally have a dying patient or losing profit on your business but you don’t sulk. I’ve only ever seen you sulk about Irene.”

“I don’t sulk.”

“Yeah, you do.”

“I just have a lot on my mind. This will pass.”

“I won’t force you into opening up to me. But I’m here, okay? I will follow you on Instagram if I have to.”

To this, Wendy had to laugh.

“See? Laughing suits you more.”

“Don’t go soft on me now.”

“I’m just trying to see if my sense of humor is still intact. Cardio is taking the life out of me.”

“You could always try General.”

“Do you want me to die?”

Both doctors laugh.

Wendy feels just a bit lighter.

“The first time I had to comfort a patient’s family after they lost their mom to an accident, the dad got angry,” Jisoo narrates after their laughs die down. “I didn’t know what to do. I don’t have superpowers, I can’t bring his wife back to life. He started lashing out, started blaming the doctors, the nurses, and even threatened to sue the hospital. None of the doctors or nurses said anything, they just watched him and accepted every bad thing he said—and this puzzled me to no end. We did our best. He can’t be mad at us. So, I told Dr. Im about this and she said, you have to understand where he is coming from .”

Wendy continues to listen, noting how this doesn’t happen very often. Jisoo is very closed off about things like this so it’s such a delight to see her talk like this.

“And I didn’t get it,” the older doctor chuckles. “I hated that she said that because you have to understand where he is coming from —I know where he is coming from. He lost his wife and he is hurting but it didn’t give him the right to be rude. I thought I was right, you know. I was convinced I was right. But Dr. Im just repeated, you have to understand where he is coming from . I still didn’t get it but years later, when she was giving a lecture, she mentioned that every single emotion, every single piece of feeling we have—it comes from somewhere. Before it is sadness, it is something else. Before it is anger, it is something else. Dr. Im said you have to take a look at that reaction and know its real name.”

Oh .

Something about it hits close to home.

Jisoo continues, smirking because she knows she hit a nerve, “It immediately took me back to that Dad. I realized that anger is just a reaction, a secondary emotion. Before he was angry, he was something else first. Literally, look at where that emotion is coming from and speak to that primary emotion, not the one they want you to see.”

Wendy sees that it is exactly what Jisoo is doing. She isn’t speaking to silent, closed-off Wendy, who is dedicated to shutting everyone off. She is speaking to Wendy who doesn’t know what to feel or how to feel what she’s feeling.

“So you see now why I’m telling you this, right?” Jisoo asks, confirming Wendy’s suspicions.

Defeated, Wendy sighs, “I think I do.”

“Good,” Jisoo hops off the gurney, “I don’t know what’s going on but you looked like you needed it.”

“Needed what?”

“A friend who sees through your bullshit.”

“I resent that.”

“No, really.  Everyone thinks you’re this vulnerable girl because you allow everyone around you to be vulnerable with you but that’s a diversion. You use that kind of honesty as a distraction. You being honest actually distracts everyone from seeing a completely different side of you, a side that’s in pain and always hurting. It’s brilliant but it obviously doesn’t work on everyone. At least not on me, probably not on Sooyoung either. That girl is a beast.”

Honestly, Wendy feels seen, called out.

“You can say it, Jisoo, you’re right .”

Wendy only rolls her eyes, refusing to give her friend the satisfaction.

“You don’t have to say it. I know I’m right. You know how I know that I’m right?” she smiles, “because it takes one to know one.”

That and Jisoo leaves.

Understand where she is coming from .

Huh.

.

Wendy gets called back half an hour later. The nurse hands her the HIS tablet with the x-ray results. Looking at it, everything seems normal. No sign of any injury whatsoever. But there has to be an explanation for this pain that’s bugging her.

Shaking her head, Wendy heads over to Bed #2 to talk to the Dad about the results. 

However, soon as she gets close, she instantly notices the odd way that Iseul is sitting. She’s seated on the bed with her back resting against a raised headboard but her legs are slumped over to the side.

Wendy feels her heart race just with this observation.

“Iseul, do you feel something different with your legs?”

The father interjects, alarmed, “What do you mean?”

The doctor quickly walks to the side of the bed and places her hands under Iseul’s armpits. She grunts a little as she lifts the girl off the bed and soon as she does, she confirms her suspicions. 

Iseul’s feet dangle lifelessly in the air as if she’s got no control over it.

“Can you move your legs, Iseul?”

Iseul only shakes her head.

This kid is paralyzed.

“What’s happening?” the dad asks, standing up and now obviously in panic.

Wendy carefully sets the patient back to the bed and arranges her legs in a straight position. The doctor then presses both of her hands against the soles of the patient’s feet.

“Can you press down against my hand?”

She waits a few seconds but nothing happens.

“What’s happening, appa ?” Iseul asks, on the verge of tears. “Why can’t I feel my legs?”

“Doctor Son?” the dad tries to ask her again, reaching out to his daughter’s hand and clasps it tightly. 

Appa , I wanna go home.”

Despite the hundred thoughts swimming in her head, Wendy maintains a calm demeanor. She grabs a tongue depressor and uses it to poke the lower part of Iseul’s leg.

“Can you feel this?”

“No,” Iseul worries. “Why can’t I feel that?”

Wendy lets out a breath as she sits by the bed and grabs Iseul’s other hand. She meets her eyes, “Iseul, what I can tell you right now is that something is happening to your body and it is causing you to lose feeling in your legs. I am doing a couple of what we call a physical test so we could determine what our next steps are.”

Iseul’s lips quiver as she nods, tears welling in her eyes. 

The doctor then lifts the tongue depressor again and shows it to the patient, “I am going to poke your leg with this and make my way up. If you feel something, let me know, okay?”

Iseul only stares at her, scared.

Sensing the kid’s reaction, the dad steps in, “Iseul, we have to work with Doctor Son, okay? She is very smart and she knows what she’s doing so let her help you.”

The kid turns to the dad and looks at him as if telling him that she is scared.

The dad gives her a small smile, “I know this is scary but do you remember what the doctor said when we came here to this hospital when NamKyu got hurt?”

Iseul swallows visibly, “The thigh bone is stronger than concrete. It will take a lot for the bones in my leg to be broken to an unrepairable level.”

Wendy quirks an eyebrow, impressed. 

“That’s right,” Wendy affirms. “The femur is the strongest bone in the body. It is stronger than concrete. So, can we work together so we can fix this?”

Still scared but calmer now, Iseul nods. 

The doctor stands back up and presses the tool on the spot just below the knee. Nothing. She moves up a couple of inches above the knee. Nothing.

Shit.

Wendy continues to do the same trick up until she reaches the belly button area.

“I felt that,” Iseul tells her.

The doctor nods. She has no motor strength. No sensation. 

They need more imaging but she cannot request one without anything to support the paralysis diagnosis.

Think, Wendy. Think.

One way to support a paralysis diagnosis is to see if there’s retained urine. When someone has a spinal cord issue, the bladder isn’t able to communicate with the brain so the person doesn’t get the feeling that they need to pee. When that happens, urine just continues to build up in the bladder.

Wendy hits a button by the side of the bed and in no time, a nurse approaches them.

Immediately, Wendy gives her orders, “Could you please get me the bladder scanner?”

“Right away, Doctor.”

The nurse shuffles on her feet and then leaves to do what she was told.

“Iseul, I’m going to do some further testing, okay? We’re gonna get to the bottom of this.”

The patient only stares at her, unshed tears still pooling in her eyes.

“I got you, okay?” she reassures her.

“Okay.”

The nurse is back in a few seconds, wheeling in with her the equipment she asked for. It’s like a portable ultrasound machine but way smaller. She pulls at the probe and puts its head just above Iseul’s stomach.

In a matter of seconds, the results show up on the screen. 400 CCs of urine. That is way too much for her bladder to handle. This confirms her suspicion that something is acutely wrong with the spinal cord.

She turns to the nurse, “Let’s do a CBC, basic metabolic panel, CPK, and sed rate. Mark it as Rush. Then, let’s also get a CT scan stat. I’ll make the call.”

The nurse nods and then gets on her way.

Right now, time is not their friend. Several conditions could be doing this. With paralysis patients, it always runs the risk of permanent damage. She’s also worried that this paralysis might be crawling up and if that’s the case, the kid is really in danger. If it gets to her diaphragm, she could stop breathing.

They need to get moving fast.

.

Just a few minutes later, the result of the CT scan is up and it didn’t help as much as she hoped.

Her scan appears completely normal. This is good because she has no trauma in that area but it’s also bad because they still don’t know what’s happening.

She then decides to order an MRI which, in this case, needs the sign-off of the attending in charge.

“Walk me through it,” Dr. Im commands as soon as she enters the small consultation room in the ER. They do not bother to sit.

“X-ray and CT scans are clear. We need further imaging.”

“And the patient is a kid?”

“A nine-year-old girl.”

“You know that it’s impossible to get a child like that to keep still, right? You’re gonna have to sedate her. Are you willing to put her through that for this test?”

Wendy nods, sure of her call, “Yes. This is the only way.”

Dr. Im purses her lips for a second before she, too, nods, “I’ll put a rush on it.”

“Thank you.”

Dr. Im was about to head out when Wendy stops her.

“Dr. Im, I’ll page you when the initial imaging results are up.”

The said doctor gives her a look, “Nope, you got this.”

“But—”

The older woman merely quirks an eyebrow, effectively shutting Wendy up from protesting. 

“This seems like a lot.”

“Listen to your gut,” Dr. Im only says, giving Wendy an encouraging smile. “Besides, I have surgery in a few minutes. Unless your patient is dying in my ER and you have no idea what to do, don’t page me. Are we clear?”

“Crystal.”

“Hwaiting!” she cheers her up before she exits the room.

What is it with people leaving her like this?

.

Half an hour later, Wendy finds herself sitting next to an MRI Technologist inside the MRI Control Room. Two large monitors are in front of them, showing several scans of Iseul’s spine.

Through the transparent glass in front of them, she could see Iseul unconscious in the middle of the huge machine. She throws a quick prayer just because. 

She studies the scans for a few minutes. After going through it, she spots what looks like an abnormality in the thoracic spine.

“What’s that in T10?” she squints her eyes as she points at it, trying to discern it. “Can you identify that?”

The Tech zooms in on it, “I need to get it online for the radiologist to confirm but it looks normal?”

“Really? What’s that shadow there?” she asks, still unconvinced.

“That’s just bone.”

Wendy gasps quietly but doesn’t say anything.

There is no way this MRI is normal.

.

While waiting for the results, she heads back to the patient to do further physical tests to make sure that the paralysis hasn’t progressed. Iseul is a bit groggy but she pulls through. The paralysis seems to be concentrated on the lower limb.

Just short of an hour later, she gets a notification on her phone that the results are up. She’s sitting by the Nurse’s Station when she gets it and soon as she does, she grabs a tablet. She checks the patient’s records and sees that the radiologist also cleared it.

No. No. No.

She releases a frustrated sigh. Did the radiologist see the same scan as Wendy did? There is no way they’d clear it if they saw that mass at T10. 

The doctor starts pacing, thinking of what to do next. She thinks about accepting this call but something about that mass at T10 irks her. If she decides to get a second opinion on this, this would mean she’s accusing the radiologist of being wrong.

This is worse than the Nurse Eum incident. If she turns out to be right, that radiologist will undergo an investigation. If she’s wrong, she will get reprimanded for not trusting the experts and will put her in a tough spot with her colleagues.

Is this the reason the nurse’s gave her low scores? Is it because she’s always doubting and asking? 

X-ray is clear. CT Scan is normal. MRI is clear.

Think, Wendy. Think.

Now out of options, Wendy thinks of calling Dr. Im but soon as this thought crosses her mind, the doctor’s voice echoes in her head.

Unless your patient is dying in my ER and you have no idea what to do, don’t page me.

That’s a weird thing to say to a first-year resident especially at a teaching hospital but then, she also recalls her saying trust your gut .

So, she does. 

Wendy picks up her phone and calls Sejeong. 

“Wendy, what’s up?”

“Are you with the Chief?” she asks, still pacing by what little space she has by the Nurse’s Station.

“We’re about to go into surgery.”

“Hold on!” she cries. “Can you put her on, please? I need to talk to her.”

“I can’t do that, she’s already scrubbing.”

“Where are you?”

“What? Why?”

“Just tell me, please. My patient’s quality of life depends on this.”

Sejeong hesitates for a moment but she comes thru, “We’re at OR 2, hurry.”

Everything that happens next, happens really, really fast.

.

She runs, literally runs, from the ER to the OR floor as fast as she can. She’s going to show these scans to the Chief and she’s gonna look at this whether she likes it or not. The only call that can match that of the radiologist’s is the neurosurgeon’s.

She’s out of breath by the time she gets to OR 2 and as soon as she does, she quickly puts on a gown and all the PPE required before she bursts into the main room where the OR table is.

She sees the Chief already standing by the overhead microscope with a scalpel at hand. They’re just about to begin.

“Dr. Son, I do not appreciate you barging into my OR like this,” the Chief calmly says. She briefly halts movement as looks at Wendy.

Everyone else in the OR does, too, including Sejeong whose eyes are wide as she stands across the Chief. 

“I have a nine-year-old with paraplegia. X-ray, CT, and MRI came back clear.”

“If it’s clear, why are you here?”

“Because I would be a bad doctor if I gave up that easily.”

She can only see the Chief’s eyes because of all the PPE she’s wearing but she sees something in her demeanor change. She’s listening now.

“Go on.”

“I spotted a mass at T10 when I looked at it. But the radiologist cleared it.”

“If he cleared it, he’s likely right.”

“Radiologists make a wrong call on an average of 3% to 4% on daily cases. If he’s right, then I would proceed with a different treatment plan and I will accept the consequences of ambushing your OR. But if I’m right, she needs surgery soon.”

Silence embraces them for a moment. The Chief merely looks at her as if she’s thinking but after a few moments, she clears her throat and gestures to one of the nurses. The said nurse walks to Wendy and asks for the tablet. 

Nodding, Wendy opens the scans on the table and hands them to the nurse. The nurse then walks back to the Chief and shows her the images.

There’s just complete silence in the room pretty intense for a room with more or less 10 people. Wendy holds her breath, slightly scared of the whole thing but she’s certain she’s right.

She does the math in her head. Radiologists are wrong 4% of the time so that’s still 96% accuracy.

Wendy could be 96% wrong about this.

Trust your gut.

After a few moments, the Chief looks up at her. Wendy bites the insides of her cheek.

“It’s not a mass,” the Chief says.

Shit.

“It is blood.”

Wait, what?

Wendy releases a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. She’s right.

Fuck.

“Is there a neurosurgeon available now? I really don’t want to postpone this.”

“Dr. Dong will be available in two hours.”

She hears the Chief sigh, “No one else is available?”

“The two other neurosurgeons’ shifts will be in four hours.”

“Alright. Dr. Kim,” she turns to Sejeong, “scrub out and help Dr. Son with prepping the patient. I’ll wrap this up and be with you in a few minutes.”

Sejeong nods, “Got it, Dr. Kim.”

“Thank you, Chief.”

“Good call, Dr. Son.”

.

Alas, her shift is done.

After getting the confirmation from the Chief, she updates the father and discusses with him what’s going to happen next. Turns out, the mass she saw was a collection of blood and it needs to be drained out in the next six hours or the damage to her spine will be permanent. 

See, within the spinal canal rests the spinal cord. There’s just a limited space within that structure so when this small space gets occupied by blood, it puts pressure on the spinal cord which will cause acute paralysis. Her job as an ER doctor was to get the child to surgery right away because she has approximately six hours before this pressure causes bruising and ischemia to the spinal cord.

Needless to say, this surgery is urgent and per protocol, this case goes up the surgeon’s list which means that whatever less urgent surgery she has in line will be postponed to accommodate this one. Of course, the Chief knew it, too. She rescheduled her ongoing surgery to make way for Iseul’s operation.

Since the case was transferred to Neurosurgery, she wasn’t able to scrub in which was probably good because she doesn’t think she’s fit to assist in any surgeries today. Not with the way her mind is occupied by a ton of things.

She was just relieved that the call she made was right and listening to her gut paid off. Wendy really needed that win today.

The doctor checks her phone as she sits inside the locker room, just by a bench near her locker. Still nothing from Joohyun.

For the first time that day, Seungwan allows herself to be sad about it. Her shoulders slack in defeat for what feels like the first time that day, her head down as she stares at the floor clueless about what all of this means for her and Joohyun.

“Is your shift over?” Wendy hears someone ask just as she was about to stand up and change into her normal clothes.

She turns and sees Dr. Im standing by the doorway of the Residents’ Locker Room. Wendy looks around out of habit and notices that they’re alone in the room. She pays the universe a silent thanks.

Wendy manages a small smile, “Yes, just about.”

“I heard what you did. Kind of a sticky situation but great save.”

The younger doctor bows, humbled, “I learned from the best.”

The attending chuckles, “Nah, I wouldn’t have done that. I would’ve been crippled by the fear of calling out someone. It was reckless but you think on your feet and then you run toward your conflict. You’re perfect for the ER.”

“I was just doing my job.”

“The radiologist who called it is respected around here, too, so I wouldn’t have dared.”

Wendy realizes she didn’t even care to look who the assigned radiologist was, “I don’t even know who it is.”

“It didn’t matter who made the call. You were right to just look at the facts laid out in front of you. It gave you an unbiased perspective of the situation.”

“I am still gonna get reprimanded, though, right?”

“Barging in into the Chief’s OR like that, yes. But it would be a verbal warning at best.”

“Will Sejeong get in trouble, too?”

“Dr. Kim Sejeong is assisting in an AVM. I don’t think she’ll mind getting reprimanded for being an accessory to the crime.”

“It’s an AVM?”

The older woman confirms, “The Chief called me from her OR and updated me. I already told the parents about it and thought I’d drop by to let you know. She was your patient.”

“It wasn’t even the ssireum .”

“No, it wasn’t the ssireum .”

AVM or arteriovenous malformation is a genetic condition that develops either before birth or just shortly after. Basically, she had a couple of arteries or veins that were tangled up, and when they ruptured, all that blood build-up put pressure on her spine. 

The ssireum fall was just a red herring.

However, catching that just before the paralysis got worse is great because now, the surgeon can fix it and get her to recovery. It is a long and difficult procedure, pretty much like every surgery that involves the spine, but Iseul is in the hands of one of the best neurosurgeons in the country. There’s a good chance she will survive this.

She might even get back to wrestling with her brothers.

“Good work today, Dr. Son.”

She merely smiles in response.

Good work today, Wendy .

.

As Wendy sits by her car still parked by the hospital’s lot, Wendy allows herself to reel into the events of the day. Yongsik and Insook. Iseul. Chaeyoung.

Joohyun.

Nothing hits her quite like the last name does.

She checks her phone one more time, hoping for anything. Still no messages from the one person she wants to hear the most from.

She has messages from Joy, Yerim, Chanyeol, Nurse Park, Jisung, and Sejeong but she ignores them all. There is one message in particular that catches her attention.

Jessica Jung

This woman’s timing is really questionable.

I don’t know what’s happening between you two but fix it because I’ve heard from the producers of the movie we want Irene to be in. They want to meet her and will be here on the weekend. I invited him as my plus one to your birthday party so he could see the two of you together. Do not fuck this up, Wendy. Need I remind you that the fake relationship arrangement is still very much in play.

The last sentence is like one hard slap to the face. After all that has happened, they’re still very much where this whole thing started. Back to Day One when Irene and Wendy didn’t know any better.

This is also what makes Wendy realize what she needs to do. 

She calls Jessica.

The girl picks up in one ring.

“The Gangwon address,” Wendy opens, not giving Jessica the chance to lord over this conversation. Her one hand is holding the phone and the other grips the steering wheel. The car isn’t moving. She’s still in the parking lot. But she feels like she needs to hold on to something. “Where did you get it?”

“Background check,” a straight and simple answer.

“You know everything, don’t you?” she probes, feeling something shift within her.

“I know enough.”

“How long have you known?”

“Not long.”

“Why didn’t you tell Joohyun?”

That question goes unanswered. Wendy expected this.

Wendy releases a heavy sigh, “You know what, that’s not something you need to explain. At least not to me. Give me Joohyun’s address.”

“What?”

“Because two days ago she learned the truth about her parents and your message to me today started with I don’t know what’s happening . She has no one right now and you know it.”

Back to where it all started.

You know what’s the thing about boundaries? They don’t keep people out, they lock you in. They trap you into this whole idea that you can do your whole life alone but guess what, Joohyun. You need people.

Yongsik had Insook. Iseul had her dad. All day, she had Jisoo, Yoona, Sejeong, and the Chief to guide her through everything. Everyone who’s gone through something difficult today had someone with them. 

Joohyun doesn’t have that. Joohyun would say she doesn’t need that. But everybody needs someone but Joohyun is stubborn. This, Wendy knows.

So she starts the car and drives.

She can’t let Joohyun go through this alone.

.

It doesn’t take long for Wendy to find Joohyun’s serviced apartment. It’s somewhere just across the river from Yongsan. It’s in a quiet neighborhood and Wendy isn’t surprised that this is where Joohyun chose to stay. The hustle and bustle of Gangnam isn’t her style.

As she stands right in front of Joohyun’s door, she finally understands why the truth feels hollow. The hollowness she’s feeling? Its real name is grief. Her grief sits right in the middle of her chest, an empty awkward silence that asks to be filled with something she wasn’t able to identify before. 

But now, she does.

Her grief is looking for answers. Her grief is looking for closure. Her grief is asking her to stop putting her heart in the hands of people who don’t know how to hold it.

Her grief is calling her a hypocrite.

All these years, she convinced herself that moving forward is what Chaeyoung would’ve wanted. That’s not true. Chaeyoung would’ve wanted her friends to gather at her funeral, sing her the songs she loves, talk about the things they loved about her when she was still alive.

Wendy ran from that because she, too, is good at that. Running away looked different on Joohyun. Running away looked different on Wendy. Yet, it is the same thing: two people running away from their grief.

In the end, grief’s real name is love.

It’s all the love you’re yet to give but cannot. That unspent love huddles up in your throat. It gathers at the corner of your eyes. It causes your chest to tighten, your lungs screaming at you to give it away.

Grief’s real name is love and it has no place to go.

“Joohyun, it’s me. I know you’re in there,” she calls gently, pressing at the button of the intercom.

Nothing .

She presses the button again, “Will you please talk to me?”

She waits it out but nothing happens.

Wendy steps toward the door and presses her forehead against the cold, wooden object. Then, she knocks. “It’s just me, Joohyun,” she calls out again, pleading.

Nothing .

Sighing, she turns around and this time rests her back against the door. She slides down until she’s sitting on the floor, defeated. She tries to listen in, wishing and hoping to hear any sign that Joohyun is on the other side of the door. 

“It’s just me,” she repeats.

Tears start to pool at her eyes, the weight of the day and this moment slowly pushing her further down.

“I’m on your side,” she says, unsure if someone is listening. “There’s a lot of things happening and I can’t blame you if looking at me reminds you of how you lost your parents. But I am on your side, that’s the one thing I know that was —and will always be—true.”

She looks around the empty hallway.

There are just two other doors on this floor aside from Joohyun’s. Maybe, they’re listening, too. Maybe they could tell Joohyun about the weird lady who cried outside her door.

“It’s obvious that you have questions. I do, too. I am scared to find out but if I am going to live my life in peace, I’m going to have to look for answers. I don’t want to do that alone,” she admits. “I want to hold your hand in every single thing we find out. Maybe it’ll be worth it, maybe it’ll hurt like a bitch—probably even more than it does now but I can be strong. I can be the one you hold onto when you feel like collapsing to the ground. When you want to cry your heart out until your tears dried up, I will stay with you. I will not leave you. You are my person, Joohyun. There’s no person in this whole world that I’d rather go through all this than you.”

She’s proud of herself for keeping it together.

Understand where it is coming from.

Right now, she doesn’t need to speak to Joohyun who is locking herself in. She needs to speak to Joohyun who, just like her, is in pain.

“The people we lost are gone but we are still here. We both made the decision to reconnect because of our circumstances but turns out, everything is bigger than it is. I don’t think this is random, Hyun. You, me. This is not random.”

Finally, she feels movement from the other side of the door. But the door doesn’t open. She imagines the movement. She thinks Joohyun is mirroring her position, sitting on the floor, listening to every word she has to say.

“When we were young, I asked my friends what their standards are for the people they date. Stupid Jackson said, date someone who makes you feel like that moment in concerts when the artists come up on stage for the first time ,” she smiles at the memory despite the tears pooling in her eyes. “It was so stupid but I never forgot about it. Up until today. No one has made me feel that way. Except you. You might think I’m just saying things but no, you render me speechless, you leave me in awe, you… you make me feel excited. You make me look forward to the next few moments I get to spend with you. It’s not even idolatry—that would be bad. But every time I’m with you, I am always sure that I’m gonna have the best time of my life. That alone is worth going through all this with you.”

There. She said her piece.

Sniffing a bit, she stands up, making a move to leave. “I know you’re in there. I know you heard every word I said. The party will push through this weekend. I will be there and I will be waiting for you. Always. I miss you, please always take care of yourself.”

She leaves after that. 

It is now Joohyun’s turn to make a decision. All Wendy can do is wait.

As she drives home, she thinks back on what Jessica said.

The fake relationship arrangement is still very much in play.

It looks like (fake) dating Irene Bae isn’t the love story everyone’s making it out to be. But maybe, just maybe, that’s not such a bad thing.

/