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    “Doctor, will our Peekaboo be okay?”

    She was a woman who enjoyed wearing fake fur coats.

    The woman, gazing at her fist-sized long-haired Chihuahua, teared up.

    The sapphire ring squeezing her chubby finger and the jewel attached to the Chihuahua’s collar seemed to be a matching set.

    The man referred to as doctor lightly lifted the Chihuahua.

    As his white fingers tangled in the black fur of the Chihuahua, the paleness seemed more pronounced.

    “Will our Peekaboo really be okay?” The woman expressed her anxiety to the doctor, who remained silent.

    “Just a cold…” His voice trailed off as if his throat had been locked for a while.

    As the doctor injected the shivering buttocks of the Chihuahua with a nasal drip, a sad tinkling sound echoed.

    “As long as you give him the medicine properly, he should be fine, right? If he doesn’t get better after a few days, I’ll come back.” The woman, whose complexion had brightened since the beginning, echoed what the doctor should say.

    As the doctor set the Chihuahua down on the examination table, the woman quickly grabbed the little dog.

    The doctor’s hand retreated even faster.

    “Our Peekaboo was very scared. Since the doctor gave him an injection, he’ll get better now.”

    The woman kissed the Chihuahua’s nose without caring about the runny nose.

    The doctor also nodded in response to the woman’s gratitude.

    After the woman left, the doctor pulled back the worn-out chair.

    He took out the white gloves he had put in the drawer, put them on properly, and then stood up from his seat.

    His pale skin seemed to seep into the white gown that reached his knees.

    Perhaps it was because of the calmly arranged black hair, or maybe it was because of the flawless white skin, but the color of his lips was unusually dark.

    After buttoning the cuffs of his gloves, he opened the door to the examination room.

    “Mix this with honey and feed it to him, and please refrain from bathing Peekaboo for a while. If there are no complications, you don’t have to visit again, but if Peekaboo’s condition is similar to today, please come back in two days.”

    Lee Seolhwa, the only animal health technician at the animal hospital, handed the prescription and Peekaboo’s medical card.

    Peekaboo, buried in the woman’s purple fur coat, had to widen his eyes to be seen.

    “Oh my, doctor. Did you come out to see us off with Peekaboo?”

    Seolhwa, who was packing the things she offered into her bag, asked the woman.

    The doctor hesitated for a moment before nodding his head.

    “Haha, our doctor is very shy. You must cherish Peekaboo so much!”

    Lee Seolhwa, who raised her voice, laughed heartily. Due to the doctor, who was blunt and honest, there were many days when she broke out in a cold sweat.

    The woman also knew that the doctor wasn’t particularly warm, but she felt relieved to leave her pet with him because he didn’t show a materialistic attitude. Having experienced many veterinary clinics that overdiagnosed for the sake of treatment fees, she trusted the honest teacher. His appearance also played a part.

    “I wish they had grooming services here too. It’s really a shame. There aren’t many places we can trust to leave Peekaboo.”

    “Oh, there’s nowhere for grooming either. It’s so cramped here. We even got rejected for applying to a small-scale animal shelter.”

    “Oh my, oh my. You were trying to do a good thing.”

    “Our Doctor applied for readoption with the purpose of rescuing the abandoned babies, but I feel so sorry too.”

    the doctor glanced at the wall clock hanging at the entrance as Lee Seolhwa and the woman chatted. The small hand pointed to 11 o’clock.

    The neon signs outside the door sporadically illuminated the darkness. As he looked back at the clock, there was a ticking sound again, accompanied by the clacking of heels. the doctor stepped aside for a moment.

    “Doctor, I’ll go now.”

    The woman exchanged a second glance with the doctor and opened the door. The ringing bell stopped as the door closed. Lee Seolhwa, following the doctor’s gaze to the clock, exclaimed as if she just realized something.

    “I forgot to change the battery.”

    Lee Seolhwa brought a single-person assistant chair and took off her shoes. As she tried to climb onto the chair, the doctor gestured with his hand.

    “I’ll do it.”

    Seeing the doctor’s white gloves, she smirked and handed him the battery instead. the doctor climbed onto the chair and adjusted the clock, then blew away the lightly accumulated dust with his breath. Lee Seolhwa replaced the battery and told the doctor as he adjusted the time.

    “It’s… 6:55 now, set it to 7 o’clock.”

    While adjusting the small hand of the clock, the sound of typing on a keyboard was heard.

    “That’s right, we had a reservation earlier, should I cancel it? We’re almost done with the appointments, and they said they’ll come soon.”

    “It’s okay.”

    the doctor put the clock back in its original place as it started ticking again. She spoke again to the doctor who was placing the chair back in its place.

    “And I’ve ordered the medications you noted on the chart. By the way, Mr. Woo Kyung’s Wang-Wang was euthanized the day before yesterday. They said he was in too much pain and couldn’t bear it.”

    Lee Seolhwa’s eyes quickly reddened. Wang-Wang was an old dog who frequented the hospital. Being over 15 years old, he wasn’t easy to treat. He had barely survived for three months with medication, struggling to breathe. The owner had requested euthanasia as they couldn’t bear to see their suffering pet anymore, but the doctor had connected them with another hospital.

    She had witnessed many animals dying in agony, unable to swallow food and barely able to breathe due to euthanasia. But euthanasia had never been performed here.

    If the owner of a sick pet really wanted it, like Wang-Wang, the doctor would only connect them with another hospital. Who could feel comfortable about ending a life? Yet, as a veterinarian, there were times when it had to be done. But the doctor always avoided it. But why…

    She shook her head in puzzlement.

    “Doctor, but the thing is… Pentobarbital.”

    “Arf! Bark! Woof!”

    Both the doctor and Lee Seolhwa turned their heads simultaneously at the fierce barking sound coming from outside the glass door.

    A man holding the leash tightly, and a stubborn Bull Terrier, resisting being pulled, its front legs stiffened with force, were engaged in a struggle.

    The man, looking at the Bull Terrier with raised claws on the floor, clicked his tongue. Then, unexpectedly, he lifted the unusually large Bull Terrier with ease.

    The man who entered with the dog nestled against his side walked slowly. Due to the drizzling rain since sunset, his shoulders and hair were damp.

    The dog, anxiously rolling its eyes in its long, torn eyes, was frozen from the moment the man lifted it up. As the doctor and Lee Seolhwa stared silently at the man, he frowned slightly and spoke.

    “Hello. I’m the one who made the reservation earlier.”

    “Oh, you’re the one who wanted an overall checkup for your child, right?”

    Lee Seolhwa clapped her hands while looking at the monitor.

    “Yes.”

    “Then would you start with this?”

    She, standing at the desk, extended a medical card with the name of the animal hospital written on it along with a pen.

    The man who had set the dog down grasped the pen with the hand opposite the one holding the leash. As the man looked at the card, he rotated the pen in his hand.

    “Do I need to write the dog’s name too?”

    “Yes? Dog… you mean?”

    Lee Seolhwa looked at the owner of the terrier as if he was strange. It was quite awkward to refer to his pet dog as just a “dog.”

    “Well, it doesn’t have a name.”

    The man muttered, looking at the dog cowering in front of him.

    The man in the black suit, even his tie was jet black, pondered for a few seconds before flicking the pen. Despite wearing a suit, his body showed a certain strength. the doctor lost interest in the man soon and walked towards the door.

    Turning the sign to ‘Closed’ indicated that the last consultation for today, with the terrier, was over.

    Entering the consultation room, the doctor waited for the man to enter with the dog. It took quite some time, longer than expected, before the door finally opened. the doctor nodded towards the man. He responded with a greeting.

    “Please take care of him.”

    His voice was as hearty as his appearance. The man again hesitated to come in, then swiftly lifted the reluctant dog onto the examination table. The short tail of the dog, hanging limply, looked very unstable.

    The dog, trembling even more pitifully than the Chihuahua that had gone ahead, had even urinated a little on the examination table. Despite being a timid animal, there seemed to be an obvious problem with being so terrified.

    With a knock, the door opened again, and Lee Seolhwa came in.

    “Doctor, there seems to be a problem with the system. The records aren’t transferring. It’s been acting up quite frequently lately.”

    She, instead carrying handwritten charts, checked the hand of the gloved teacher. Changing her intention to hand it directly, she placed the chart in front of the doctor.

    “Call me when you need anything.”

    Lee Seolhwa smiled kindly and left. The man who had been standing the whole time sat down heavily on the chair in front of the examination table. He shook off the moisture from his shoulder.

    “Could you please check him for any abnormalities?” The man calmly surveyed the veterinarian who was only examining the dog without responding.

    The image of a veterinarian the man had in mind was closer to a cheerful or kind neighborhood uncle. However, this veterinarian had a gaze that seemed to hold the pages of a magazine.

    With dyed jet-black hair, lips that appeared unusually red against a skin that seemed like it would get dirty at the slightest touch… In short, he didn’t look like an ordinary person.

    If his tightly closed lips were to part, it felt like a chill would emanate, creating a unique atmosphere. The man’s gaze, scanning the veterinarian, paused at his chest.

    Director: Han Naeyung

    Although it was a small clinic, it seemed quite difficult to attach the title of director.

    Han Naeyung.

    The man, silently repeating the name in his mind, suddenly stopped his train of thought. He stifled a laugh at the thought of observation being such a persistent occupational hazard.

    One peculiar thing was that, usually, people would feel uncomfortable under such scrutiny, but the director didn’t even seem to consider looking back this way.

    Was he accustomed to being observed, or was he just ignoring it? The man took out his buzzing phone from his pocket and asked, “Will it take long?”

    Han Naeyung, gripping the muscular front leg of the dog, looked up towards the man.

    “There’s something I didn’t mention. He’s a rescue dog.”

    The man belatedly revealed an important fact. Only then did Han Naeyung, who had been silent all along, speak up.

    “Go to another clinic.”

    As the man had anticipated, Han Naeyung’s voice carried a chill. Perhaps it felt even colder due to the hostile look in his eyes. Facing Han Naeyung, who was about to put the dog down, the man spoke again.

    “The current status is not that of a rescue dog. I’ve decided to take care of him starting today.”

    Yet Han Naeyung still put down the stiffened dog. Then, he put on the gloves he had taken off and grasped the leash. Without looking at the hand extended towards him, the man stared at Han Naeyung.

    Does it mean he can’t examine him since he can’t prove he’s not a rescue dog? Going to another clinic wouldn’t matter, but there was no time to waste pointlessly. The incessant buzzing of the man’s phone proved that fact.

    “He’s barely survived; can’t you take a look at him?”

    After Han Naeyung glanced at the whimpering dog, he let go of the leash. He placed him back on the examination table and this time, drew blood without hesitation. The man thought he would need a more convincing excuse.

    Surprisingly, Han Naeyung seemed compliant.

    “The test results will be out the day after tomorrow.”

    “So, you mean there’s no problem at first glance?”

    “It’s in a very unstable condition. It needs to be monitored continuously.”

    The man thought Han Naeyung’s clinical demeanor might suit a medical examiner more than a veterinarian. His snowy-white neck resembled the pallor of imminent death, adding to that impression.

    “Alright. I’ll visit again the day after tomorrow. Please take care of him.”

    Despite requesting a handshake, Han Naeyung only placed the leash back on the examination table. The man, unfazed by being ignored for a handshake, grabbed the leash.

    “Let’s go, Nari.”

    The ears of the trembling dog perked up. However, his legs still didn’t move, so the man had to tuck him under his arm. Han Naeyung checked the new chart without even looking at the man leaving the examination room.

    Name: Nari

    Age: Don’t know

    Guardian: Nari’s dad

    Address: This neighbourhood. 010-XXXX

    The man’s handwriting was quite messy.

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