Fan Fiction : Hana

Title: Hana
Genre: florist au
Length: 5580

“I’m searching for a flower,” Kim asked as soon as he entered the florists’.

There was no snarky comment to answer him. Just a shrug in the direction of a shelf filled with beautiful floral arrangements.

Encouraged, he stepped further in.

“But I’m not sure which one,” he roved his eyes over a thousand leaves and a thousand more petals, all wrapped in subtly curled ribbons that swayed from the air con.

The wall opposite was built entirely with old glass bottles strung together, which was what dragged him here in the first place. It looked as intriguing from a few feet away as it did from meters away. Light shone through the murk of liquid compost in them, obscured by creepers and tiny white-leaved shrubs. He felt it dance against his back in brilliant patterns of green and blue and yellow.

He repressed the urge to run his hand through the colorful beams.

“Did you see it in a book? A TV drama?” the man behind the counter asked, uncharacteristically leaving the counter and walking to stand beside Kim where he studied the pricing list pinned on a soft board.

The bolded 5% delivery charges was brushed aside inconsequentially.

“No, no,” he replied absent-mindedly. “Just… don’t know what to give that person.”

He checked his pager for any new messages, but there were none. So he ran a tired pair of hands through his hair and turned away.

“He’s…” he continued to attempt an explanation. “I’ve been really busy so I haven’t checked but… He’s a musician, I think.”

“You think?”

Kim looked at the other and nodded thoughtfully, licking the chap off of his lips. His mind went away to a memory, something that might help him decide faster because now was no time to be dallying around in a flower shop.

“His fingers seem like they are those of an artist Will look good on a piano or something. And his voice is a little crackly and annoying at times. But I’ve heard him humming on some nights when he’s trying to sleep. I think he’s good with music and all that…”

The florist raised his eyebrows. Like he was going to ask something along the lines of you’ve seen this man sleep but you don’t know what he does for a living? Kim waited to tell the other off and mind his own business but then—

“OK, so he’s a romantic. What else?”

“Uhh…” confused eyes looked at the floor. “He’s… uhm.” His hands gestured, trying to sculpt meaning out of the air, but finding nothing to help. “See, I met him after he lost someone he loved,” he reluctantly revealed despite his earlier promise not to. “It shook him up really bad. At one point he uhh…” Kim shifted uncomfortably on his feet. “He tried to do something… to himself.”

“Ah,” the florist supplied.

“Yeah, so I want him to forget all about it. What do I do?”

“Hmm…” the other nodded slowly. Then clicked his fingers. “I know just what you need.”


“Hello, J~”

Kim smiled down at the man already seated in his wheelchair. Another nurse changed the sheets and opened the windows, airing the blankets and watering the tiny vase kept on a side table.

“The chart says you’re going home today. Aren’t you happy about that?”

The man looked up at him with a blank stare, dressed out of his scrubs and back in regular clothes. His wrists were still wrapped in gauze, and his face was still sallow. There were shadowy circles under his eyes like he hadn’t slept in long. In anyone’s opinion he needed continued medical attention before he was deemed fit to leave.

But there’d been news of a big accident on a construction site nearby, so they had to urgently make room in the already overflowing outpatient department.

“You brought me roses,” J pointed towards the bunch sitting in his lap. It sounded more like an accusation than a statement.

“I did!” Kim nodded cheerily and swiped the other’s messy hair off his head, proceeding to drag the wheelchair out. “We all need a bit of color in our lives.”

J shook his head. “No, I meant…” he started, craning to look back. “I meant why roses? And red ones?” Stubby fingers tapped a distracted beat on the plastic of an armrest. “You don’t even know me…”

They approached the nurses’ station where a page was hastily signed before they moved on.

“Well, then. Think of them as a sign of our new friendship. What do you think?” Kim suggested. Sunlight invading through large windows of a long corridor played on tightened knuckles. “You came in here and you made a new friend who gifted you red roses. Isn’t that a nice memory to walk away with?”

At the ramp leading out of the building the other said nothing. But there was water in his eyes when Kim helped him stand up.


“So what do you recommend for regular use?”

The florist grinned, paying back a customer with change and bowing a little in thanks. As they left, a few more women walked in and started to browse through the list of seeds available on special winter sale. They were greeted with a friendly wave.

But when he turned to Kim his face dropped the smile and his hands dropped to his pockets.

“You’re the one who came in earlier too, right?” he asked. “How were the roses? Did your friend like them? Did you say everything I told you to say when you gave them to him?” a stream of questions flowed out one by one, tone flat and expressionless.

The dark brown apron from last time was off, and now a polished nametag was on display on his chest. Lee, it read from the distance. Kim silently rolled the pronunciation on his tongue. He wondered how he could say it out loud without coming off as too creepy or invasive. Customers aren’t usually on a first-name basis with shopkeepers…

“Unn,” he nodded instead. “So how about it?”

The other hissed in air, expression thoughtful. “Depends on what you mean by regular use. Do you intend on giving flowers to the same person from before on a fixed basis or…?”

Kim scrambled inside his bag trying to dig out what he’d been given by the head nurse some hours ago, accompanied by specific instructions. “No, it’s a whole building of people. I need to make a bulk order. How fast can you deliver to this place?”

A small square of paper with an address was pushed across the payment counter where it was acknowledged with a concentrated frown. “This is a hospital.”




Their gazes met, the clash softer. “So the last time was a… patient? Are you a doctor, sir?” The sentences suddenly changed to overly formal. Kim cringed, then made to shake his head, but the other went on regardless. “I’m really sorry, doctor, I now feel like I didn’t help you enough. Please let me reimburse you and compensate with a—”

“No, no, it isn’t any problem. I’m just a nurse.”

There is a moment of silence between them, then. But not uncomfortable, just meditative. It was odd, this silence, because the revelation was usually followed by unnecessary witticisms about male nurses being pansies and general losers in life. Kim quirked a surprised eyebrow at the other after a few moments of waiting.

“What, no jokes about my girly job?”

The man shrugged, bending to pull out a large notebook with the label Wholesale and flipping to its latest entry. Silver rings shone on many of his fingers, glinting and shimmering in Kim’s face. He stared at them as if hypnotized for some unfathomable reason, again stopping himself before reaching out to draw his touch over their circles.

“I’m a twenty-seven year old florist, do I have the right?”

They shared an approving nod at that.


The flowers arrived in the back of a special truck with cooling to keep them fresh.

A co-worker signed for them because there was an emergency case in the paediatric ward at the time, but ultimately it was Kim who decided which room got what flowers.

None of the other nurses had any interest in the task anyway, and they always messed it up by sending the wrong kind to their respective patients. Kim was pernickety in that sense. He was attentive.

Or at least he liked to think he was.

The old ladies on the second floor got daisies because of how often they spoke about their lives in the countryside. They patted his head and stroked his cheek when he showed up with a canister of water one afternoon.

A pregnant woman who’d faced complications during a C-section was given red gerberas to distract her. She still wept a little when Kim carried her baby to her in a tiny bundle of blankets, but thanked him profusely.

A young boy with severe asthma was surprised when he woke up to a cactus, chosen so that no pollen got into his system. He loved it instantly and shared animated hopes about traveling to a desert in the near future.

A man with terminal cancer smiled at the single protea beside his bed. It was the kind of smile that said he knew about the hidden message in the gesture, but it was also peaceful. Like he’d come to terms with his sickness.

It was very impressive how careful the florist had been, paying attention to every little detail he’d been supplied with by Kim himself.

The pinks and reds were the right shade, the yellows and oranges weren’t as jarring as most people expected them to be. The leaves and thorns had been trimmed just enough to still remind everyone they were looking at real plants. Every arrangement was clean and systematic, but the poetry in them wasn’t lost.

And he would’ve gone back that same night after the delivery to thank the man. Maybe ask if he could send a bouquet of poppy flowers to his grandmother since she used the seeds in some of her special dishes.

But the memory of that placid façade put him off.

He flicked his phone open and shut in the changing rooms after a particularly long surgery, the last dialled number saved as Lee instead of the name of the shop. If he called this late it’d be considered unprofessional, and only make things more awkward for when they met later. He shoved the cell back in his bag and slipped off his scrubs, throwing them to a side for washing later.

When he clocked out that night he returned straight home and went straight to bed, dreaming of daylight sprinkling all over his body in a million unknown colors.


Kim flicked his thumbs under a few wilting marigolds.

“So?” Lee sprayed water on a potted plant, pruning scissors held at the ready. “What do you need help with this time?” he asked after they’d been standing in silence for almost half an hour.

It was a rare day off so Kim decided to make an early morning visit to the shop. The small notice board up front had announced they were still closed. But he’d been seen dawdling aimlessly from indoors and was gradually asked in out of courteousness.

Now they leisurely strolled through the small greenhouse in the back of the shop, its air moist and heavy with humidity.

“There’s this lady who had a surgery last week,” Kim started.  “She’s a soldier in the army. Temporarily discharged cause an accidental bullet wound in her sternum isn’t closing up entirely, and keeps getting in the way of her—” he paused when the other made a queasy face. “Sorry. Let me skip the details.”

“Yeah, please do.”

“So she’s there every day on that bed, staring at the flowers I left for her. And I look at her each time I go in with her meals…” Kim shook his head. “She doesn’t seem very happy.”

“Well…” the florist shrugged. “I wouldn’t be happy if I were stuck in a hospital either.”

“Yeah but—” Kim insisted. “She never smiles. Not even a little bit.”

They stood around weighing the hot air, the sun climbing up through the sky with every tick of the clock. Either man abided by the pensiveness in his own world. The occasional sshick-sshick of the spray bottle was the only sound to be heard besides buzzing bees and humming school buses.

“Tell me something…” the question began and Kim looked at Lee with expectantly raised eyebrows.

“Why is it compulsory for everyone to smile?”

“Wh-what do you mean?” he frowned.

“I mean maybe some people don’t like to smile,” the florist cut off a few infected leaves of an amaranth, tutting and muttering about ineffective pesticide when he flicked spotted green smears onto a strip of newspaper. “Some people are just not used to smiling as much. If at all.”

“But… why?”

“They’re just like that, there’s no reason for it.” They looked at each other for a while. “You need to leave them alone with their feelings.”

There was a pause in the conversation then. “Hey, isn’t it a rule for people who work in medicine, by the way?” Lee blinked with confusion. “Don’t get too attached or something like that…?”

“You’re right. I guess I’m just being selfish.” Kim scratched the back of his neck, feeling the sweat gathered on it and cringing. “It’s the least I can do for them, though,” he reasoned. “I’m not very good at much, I might as well make people smile. Right?”

The other man narrowed his eyes. “So you think you owe it to them because can’t give them anything else.”

Kim hummed a noncommittal sound.

Lee looked up at the glass ceiling of his greenhouse. “I think I understand you a little now.”


She looked at him with a gentler gaze than usual.

“Miss E~ how’re you feeling today?” he bowed a little before sliding the glass door to her room shut and walking over. “I heard you’re making a lot of progress since the surgery. That’s great news, isn’t it?”

She only observed him, silent as usual.

He placed the tray of tasteless food before her and helped stuff pillows behind her back, checking her EKG reading and readjusting her morphine once he’d noted all the other monitors hooked into her right arm.

A few more seconds of lingering later he walked around the bed and drew the blinds across the big window, darkening the room in advance for her afternoon nap. It was an excuse to stay longer.

“I’m sorry there isn’t much entertainment available here,” he chattered on. “If you would like I’ll bring in a pack of cards for us? Would you like to play a few games of stop-go for a while to take your mind off things that bother?”

“That other nurse…” E replied, clearing her throat of hoarseness. “The one from this morning. I asked her about the flowers. She took your name.” She looked up at him. “You’re Kim, right?”

His sight fluttered momentarily to the sunflowers he’d replaced an earlier nosegay with. He grinned. “Do you like them?”

She shifted to get more comfortable, groaning a little. He rushed to her side with worry. “It’s really difficult to get these around this time of the year. How did you find them?”

He hummed his response, playing with non-existent creases in her sheets, smoothing over them so he didn’t feel like he was under interrogation. “I have a… friend. He helped.”

E finally held the flowers in her sight then, reaching out to gingerly groom the large yellow petals, adoration clear on her face as it slowly stretched into a sweet smile. “Thank him for me, would you?”


“You can’t be serious…” he shook his head, then groaned because of how heavy it felt from the alcohol.

They’d been drinking after meeting up one evening. Kim was supposed to be back at the hospital but he’d handed over his shift to someone else who wanted the favor returned next week.

He usually kept a close watch on himself when it came to drinking but tonight he’d let himself go. It was his way of celebrating. What exactly, he wasn’t sure. It was just a good word to use as justification to getting plastered this early in the day.

Lee wasn’t faring any better, either. He swayed in his place in time with the twists and turns of the subway tunnel.

“You’re a florist because it helps you understand people?” Kim repeated. “You’re joking, right? You really can’t be serious. This is a joke.”

“You see that woman?” Lee pointed with his eyes to a lady sitting across from them on the train, his tone low. “See the jasmine in her hair?”

Kim grunted.

“She’s wearing them because she’s waiting for her husband to return from somewhere.”

“How do you know?”

“Look at her wedding ring,” the other replied. “Look at the way she keeps fiddling with it. He probably left a long time ago. She’s waiting for him to show up again. And I bet she wears those flowers every day because she doesn’t know when that day will come.”

The train slowed at one of the stations and the target of their joint attention got up to leave.

“She’s trying to keep one last bulb on before she switches off the current altogether.” Lee gestured with his hands, swiping them across himself as the doors of their compartment slid shut. “Before everything goes dark.”

They both frowned at the melancholy theory.

Two stops later they stumbled onto the platform and Kim giggled a little at the way the other’s hair stuck up in an odd angle against the wind. This time his inhibitions were curbed by the alcohol when he reached out to ruffle chestnut brown strands with a sort of adoration.

He wasn’t shaken off.

“I still don’t buy it,” Kim maintained when his silly laughter had died down. “That lady was just one special incident. Anybody could’ve said what you did if they were paying attention. Your reason still doesn’t make sense.”

“OK,” Lee countered as if accepting a challenge. “I’ll show you. There!” he pointed to a man buying a ticket for himself from one of the machines, studying his watch and accidentally spilling all his spare change. “Look at him!”

“What about him?”

“Look at the carnation in his pocket,” the florist motioned to his own chest. “Look at that. He’s clearly wearing it to attract attention from the person he likes the most. He’s on his way to see them right now.”

“He could just be wearing it to feel good,” Kim refuted.

The other threw him an exasperated stare. “Please. Who in this century wears flowers to feel good?” he shook his head. “No, it’s because he wants someone to notice him. Someone who never notices him. He’s been drowning in facelessness while waiting for that someone’s eyes to turn to him and that flower is his drastic measure. It’s his plank of wood to grab onto and float to the shore with.”

“He’s betting himself on himself…” Kim added, looking intently at the side of Lee’s face. “Isn’t it the saddest thing?”

The other hummed his affirmation, glance drooping to the serrated yellow paving on the platform.

On the escalator up Kim nudged the other’s side. “So what about me?” he slurred. “What do you understand about me? I’m not wearing any flowers right now.” The pitch of his voice was squeaky from daring the other to answer.

He stretched his arms out to his sides in a dramatic pose. “What can you tell from just looking at me?”

Lee smirked at him, lounging against the black rubber handrail. “You may not be wearing flowers on you but you’re just as love-starved as those two,” he jerked his head back in the direction of their earlier observations.

Kim narrowed his eyes. “No, I’m not,” he vehemently clarified.

“You are, though…” the other insisted. “All that pent up compassion, all that unnecessary concern for your patients. That’s just you channelling it where its possible,” he explained.

They reached above ground where the wind only got wilder.

“You keep the first three buttons of your shirt open. Always. But it’s not anything to do with style, you just want someone to—” Lee leaned in and pulled Kim’s collar, looking at his chest with a teasing expression. “—peek into your heart.”

The attention was pushed away, a little too forcefully. The other giggled with pleasure. And despite it being a change from his usual indifference, it didn’t feel like a very nice change to Kim.

“No one peeks into my heart, OK?” he bristled, defensively buttoning up his shirt.

“Yeah, cause they don’t know you want them to.”

But you do, would’ve been the correct reply. When his head informed him of that, he stuffed it into the back where all the clutter of his tacit feelings gathered rot. He cringed, feeling that sticky mess of attention ooze onto his tongue.

They ambled along a footpath in silence, a steadily thinning crowd walking in the opposite direction. They walked in silence until a frustrated hand scrubbed at a frustrated scalp.

“Ah, why are we here anyway?” Kim demanded.

“The girl with leukaemia, remember?” Lee easily answered.

“But I thought we’d be at your shop for this? What sort of flowers are we going to find here? In the middle of… what is this neighborhood called, again?” And even as he said that aloud, he started to notice a spray of soft pink. It showered their shoulders, riding on erratic zephyrs.

The florist afforded a tiny smile. “This is a special request.”


The doctor on call noisily flipped through the girl’s chart. “Let’s see. Miss… M. Oh, that’s a beautiful name,” she complimented. “How are we feeling today?”

Kim made himself look busy tidying up the place. He’d been scolded for showing up late at work today and last night’s drinking was to blame.

“It still hurts.”

When the effects of alcohol had started to wear off yesterday, much like a dangerous landslide, he’d abruptly announced he wanted to go home. The florist had scowled like it was a personal offence, his upset countenance somehow branded onto the inside of Kim’s eyelids.

Even so, he felt like it’d been the right thing to do. He was glad that… whatever it was that could’ve happened between them last night didn’t escalate beyond a simple business transaction.

“Hmm… Nurse?” the doctor called. Kim straightened from where he’d been crouching to look at her. “How is her food intake?”

“She can’t keep most of it down. Uhm, doctor, also…” he added reluctantly. “Her lymph nodes are swollen and she’s complained about pain in the ankles. She’s already gone through the chemo thrice and she’s not scheduled for her next round until April.”

The girl on the bed glared as if she’d been betrayed. Kim felt his face color, he’d apologize later.

“B-but…” he belatedly tried to add something positive to his observations, just so M would feel at ease. “But she doesn’t show any signs of anaemia. And her platelet count is rising.”

“Oh?” the doctor smiled. “Isn’t that good news?”

When she’d left for the rest of her shift, Kim sat down next to M and held his earlobes in an act of regret. “I had to tell her, sorry…”

“You’re weird. You do nice and nasty things one after the other at the same time.”

“What’s the last nasty thing I did?!” Kim playfully pouted. “I even bought you nice flowers to look at!” he pointed at the sprig of cherry blossoms they’d smuggled from a tree last night.

She grew sombre when she turned to where he pointed. “Do you know what they mean?”

He sighed, because he didn’t. “They mean your pain is just for a short while. It’ll disappear. Just like Sakura disappears.”

M drew her blanket closer to herself. “What if I disappear too?”


Kim had decided to enter the shop with clear purpose but when his sight was met with a barrage of roses he stopped and stared.
Four men in caps quickly arranged pots in a corner while another stood with his head bowed.

“No, no, I didn’t order any lilies what is this?!” Lee scolded from somewhere behind a large bunch of violets. “Your delivery is late and your work is shoddy, I’d like to have a word with your manager!”

“I’m very sorry, sir…”

“What’s all this?” Kim ventured in, leaning this way and that to try and catch a glimpse of the other.

“Oh, it’s you,” he heard himself be recognized, the voice still irritated. “Just preparing for Valentine’s day, that’s all. What, do you want to make another order?”

Kim looked at the date on his watch. It blinked back a 2014-02-07 at him. “No…” he mumbled. “Just thought we could talk a bit. About uhm… that night.”

Two of the workers hauling in a bag of compost paused with their eyebrows raised. He ignored them.

“When will you be free?”

The florist stepped into view wearing his apron and a pair of bright yellow rubber gloves, his cheek smeared with a little mud. Kim fought the oddly strong urge to wipe it clean.

“If it isn’t anything urgent can you wait for just… half an hour?”

He shook his head. “My shift starts in twenty minutes.”

Lee shrugged. “Sorry. I’m busy. You can either tell me now if it’s important or if it can wait until later.”

Kim frowned at the lines on his own palm. “It’s important. And I’ve waited a lot already…” he said more to himself than anyone else. He gave up when he wasn’t asked to repeat it. “Goodbye. Sorry for all the trouble.”

“Uh what?”

He reached all the way to the zebra crossing at the next signal when he was yanked around by the arm. “What are you talking about?! What is this trouble nonsense now?!”

He scoffed. “Never mind.”

The pedestrian light turned green and people from either side of the road started to cross. Kim made to follow.

“No tell me,” he was pulled again insistently. “You haven’t called in a month, you haven’t come over and asked about another patient? I keep looking at my phone, I keep staring at the door. I even sent another delivery like we’d scheduled and the only response was a thank you note from your chief of staff and an envelope full of money.”

Lee looked annoyed, speaking loudly over the noise of traffic. “What the hell is going on?”

“What do you want me to say?!” Kim demanded, unaware of the scene they’d started to cause. People walked to avoid them, throwing curious looks.

“Do you want me to overanalyse you like you did me?! Do you want me to say something poetic?! Like…” he shook his head frantically as if searching for words. “Like the fact that you hide yourself from view even from people standing in front of you?! You hide your name behind your stupid apron and your hide your feelings behind complicated words?! That you hide even… I don’t know, your heartbeat when you’re dressing up all those useless flowers?!”

The florist ground his teeth audibly loud. “They’re not useless.”

“Yes they are! They wilt and they die like everything else!” Kim yelled. “And I’m just another customer and you’re just another businessman! There is nothing poetic or beautiful or charming about any of this! What the hell else do you want me to say?!”

Lee’s face took on a dismal appearance. “Why’re you acting like an asshole?”

His pager buzzed in his pocket then and he whipped it out. Kim shook his head, starting to leave. “I have to go, there’s an emergency.”


“I-I’m searching for a nurse,” Lee said at the reception of the hospital.

The lady behind the desk shot him a quizzical smile. “Of course, sir. Does she have a name?” her fingers flitted over a keyboard, then waited for an answer.

“Actually, it’s a he… and he never gave me his name.”

The receptionist smiled broader. “Oh, you mean Kim!” she exclaimed. “Yeah, he’s probably in the paediatric ward right now. He likes to entertain the kids there. It keeps them occupied. Uhm, you could wait in the visitors’ lounge—”

“No, I need to see him as soon as possible.”

“Sir…” she hesitated. “You’re not allowed in at this time. You’ll have to wait till visiting hours at least.”

He begged her with his eyes. “Please?”

She looked around as if checking for something. He stiffened because he thought she was about to call security. When she sighed though, he relaxed.

“Fourth floor, you should go straight through that corridor and the elevators are on the right. Don’t let anyone see you.”

Almost colliding with a gurney at one point, he dodged several eyes as he navigated his way through the long and sterile-smelling corridors. Another nurse, judging from her pink scrubs, did notice him but said nothing as she rushed out of a storage closet with some sort of long pipe in her hand.

There were no signboards to help him so he had to listen extra hard for laughter or some sort of rowdy childlike commotion.

“—and then, the princess picked up the frog and mmmuah!”

He stepped back a few feet at the sound of a familiar deep and scratchy accent.

“Ewww…” a chorus of voices answered.

Lee peered through the square of glass cut into a nearby door. And sitting there on a stool with a furry bright green blob in his palm, dimple flashing and dark hair uncombed as usual, was Kim.

“What happened then?” someone demanded.

“Then?” the man answered, skipping the toy in his hold. “Then the frog croaked and hopped away and the princess was left with sticky slime on her mouth.”

“Gross!” a girl squeaked. “That’s not how it happened!”

“Oh really?!” Kim challenged playfully, picking the girl up and placing her on his lap. “Then why don’t you finish the story for us, madam?”

Lee barged in without wasting another second. “The frog turned into a prince,” he stated. Kim’s eyes widened in shock and the little girl sitting on his leg pouted with disappointment, slipping off to the ground and crossing her arms.

He spoke on. “But he wasn’t really a prince, he was just another beggar. His gold wasn’t really gold, he wore it because he wanted to feel worthy of the princess. His kingdom was just a patch of marshland. He had no palace, nowhere to live; all his life he’d looked for a place in someone’s heart.”

Some of the kids playing on the floor craned up at the two of them with curiosity. Lee smiled and reached in his pocket, crouching to gift them skeleton leaves he’d dried in the pages of his diary. They gasped with glee and held them up against the light from outside.

He turned to the girl from before and handed her the widest leaf. She ooh-ed with admiration, running away to show it off to the others and leaving him alone with Kim. “The prince was just another person. And when he met the princess she said she didn’t know what to do with him. She said he was useless.”

Kim sat up straight, his face stern. “Mr. Lee,” he said, calling him by his name for the first time since they’d met months ago, when a wall of colorful glass had thrown its light onto worried eyes and wrinkled skin. “I never said you were useless, I only—”

“The frog turned into a prince, and then the prince turned into ash,” Lee cut in. “Because the princess didn’t know he’d been waiting for her all his life. He’d been waiting to be picked up. He’d been waiting to be noticed. He’d been waiting to be kissed. But she didn’t even give him her name. And he turned into a pile of useless ash.”

The other leaned away, looked away, ready to walk away too.

“There was no poetry, there was nothing romantic or beautiful or even significant between them. And that was really disappointing, I agree.” He continued, reaching to hold the other’s wrist, radiating the implication of his words through their contact. “But so what?”

Kim whipped around. “You’re being ridiculous. We can’t just start dating on a whim.”

“Why not?”


“Because our lives aren’t fairy tales?” Lee asked without waiting for an answer. “Because love stories need drama? Is that what you think, Kim? Who said we need to put up a show for the rest of the world? Who set this… standard for falling in love with someone? Because I don’t remember seeing any guidelines anywhere.”

“You didn’t even know what to call me until today,” the other reasoned sternly.

“What’s in a name?” Lee joked, earning himself a derisive laugh. “See, at least I’m quoting Shakespeare now, isn’t that romantic enough for you?”

“You’re being stupid.”

“Fine, let’s be stupid together, then,” he shrugged indifferently, tightening his grip on the man’s wrist. “We’re still young. We should be allowed this much right?”

Kim worried his bottom lip, but from the way he didn’t even try to yank his arm back it was clear his resistance was being dismantled block by block. He slumped tiredly.

“I’m not a princess.”

Lee grinned and nodded. “OK.”

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Vi. 30. Ace. His walls may still stand a hundred feet tall and unyielding, his sentries may still keep their guns trained on possible intruders. His gate may be locked shut and his moat may be filled with beasts that could tear Jinki to pieces should he so much as dip a toe into the black depths. But everything else that makes Kibum has fallen to pieces. His indomitable fortress protects nothing. There is no one to save and no one to keep alive. He is completely emptied. He belongs completely to Jinki.

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