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    As he was scooping so vigorously his stomach was rumbling, Jeong Hee-seo suddenly slipped his hand between the ice cream cup and Ji-an’s face. Shushing him, he lifted Ji-an’s chin as if he were preventing a dog from sticking its nose in its food bowl.

    “Eat slowly, or you’ll get a stomachache.”

    His finger grazed Ji-an’s lip before pulling away. The warmth seemed to have touched his frozen tongue tip too. Jeong Hee-seo slowly licked the ice cream off his own finger, his smile picture-perfect to top it off.

    Ji-an felt steam might actually pour from his ears at that moment.

    “Ah, why are you doing this, really!”

    In response to his reaction, Jeong Hee-seo threw his head back in a hearty laugh, showing all his canines.

    * * *

    Again today, Ji-an barely managed to refuse the driver Kim’s offer to drop him right in front of the company, getting out a block away instead. He wanted to take the subway, but his mom just scolded him for saying such nonsense when he couldn’t even stand normal scents because of the pheromones.

    Clutching Jeong Hee-seo’s handkerchief and his cross-body bag strap in one hand, he held a juice bottle in the other. Packed with nutrients, it was an unsettling color. Amongst the zombie horde walking around with styrofoam cups of dark americanos and soulless expressions, he must have looked like the only one vividly out of place.

    To Ji-an, this was just a leisure stroll, but for everyone else it was the morning commute, so their appearances differed greatly within the same scenery.

    “Everyone looks so lifeless…”

    Going to work every day, steadily building a dusty career, preparing for next year and the year after… These things didn’t resonate with Ji-an now. Knowing there was an expiration date on things made thinking about the future strange and heavy.

    Shaking his head vigorously to brush off the heavy feeling, Ji-an passed through the lobby and ran into Secretary Yoon. He seemed to have already checked in, carrying nothing in his hands and appearing to be coming from somewhere.

    “Oh, Mr. Ji-an. You’re here early today.”

    Secretary Yoon cheerfully approached and stood beside Ji-an. Originally intending to use the elevator in the corner, Ji-an was swept along to the central elevators instead.

    Standing in front of the elevator doors, Secretary Yoon leaned in and whispered to Ji-an.

    “You two made up, didn’t you? The General Manager looked bright this morning.”

    …Made up? They never even fought.


    Ji-an pouted and scratched the back of his head. If that’s what he thought, there was no need to correct him.

    Secretary Yoon didn’t stop there and poked him on the side. When Ji-an turned around, he saw that Secretary Yoon had smiled widely, showing all his gums. Ji-an worried he might dry out his gums at this rate.

    “What did you do with the General Manager over the weekend? Tell me. Let me live vicariously through your dating life…”

    Ji-an widened his eyes and looked around. It seemed like no one was listening closely.

    Fortunately, no one seemed to be eavesdropping nearby.


    Dating life? This guy had a big misunderstanding. Just as Ji-an resolved to correct him, Secretary Yoon suddenly exaggerated his movements, swaying his hips excessively.

    “You know what my fantasy is? Angry sex.”


    Ji-an didn’t think they were close enough to use such language. His pupils shook like an earthquake. But Secretary Yoon was unstoppable. Maybe it was because it was Monday morning, but he seemed slightly out of his mind.

    “You know…like in movies. When they have a big fight and then do it while they’re still mad. Grabbing each other by the collar, pushing each other against the wall, throwing shoes, making out while ripping each other’s clothes off…then stumbling onto the bed writhing together.”

    This guy was really something. Ji-an’s face flushed as he stammered.

    “Th-There was nothing like that.”

    Seeing Ji-an embarrassed, Secretary Yoon just snickered under his breath.

    Fortunately, the elevator arrived just in time, rescuing Ji-an from the awkward situation. He crammed into the spacious elevator and covered his mouth with a handkerchief.

    Soon, two more employees from the General Manager’s office were seen in the elevator filled with people. While Secretary Yoon was greeting them, Ji-an secretly consoled his heart.


    It was almost automatic that Jeong Hee-seo’s mischievous expression came to mind.

    Despite teasing Ji-an to the point of annoyance at the ice cream shop, Jeong Hee-seo didn’t touch him all weekend, contrary to his words. Of course, Ji-an absolutely didn’t mean necessary physical contact.

    He proposed the idea of ​​getting some fresh air and took Ji-an with him to Chuncheon. After sightseeing the large lake and observation deck, he bought Ji-an a generous Spicy stir-fried chicken and fried rice for dinner before driving him home.

    Even when parting ways in the dim yellow street light of the dark alley, Jeong Hee-seo didn’t hesitate to turn and walk away. His steps back to his car were quick. The steps back to my car were quick. Rather, it was Ji-an who stood there until the end, wondering if there was something more.

    Ji-an stood in front of the gate and watched Jeong Hee-seo’s car until it turned into a dot and disappeared.For some reason, his mouth felt parched at that moment.

    Sunday was no different. Ji-an had a simple breakfast using Jeong Hee-seo’s handkerchief and met him before lunch. They had lunch and dinner together, but nothing happened.

    Except for when Jeong Hee-seo pulled him into an embrace to avoid a precariously passing bicycle during their riverside park stroll…there wasn’t even ordinary hand holding that weekend.

    “… Mr. Ji-an?”

    “Ah yes?”

    Lost in thought for a moment, Ji-an realized the elevator that had been stopping at each floor to let people off was now empty. Only the General Manager’s office members remained at their final destination.

    The youngest, petite and round-faced Lee Hyun-joo, was calling Ji-an’s name and tugging at his sleeve.

    “Do you want to eat a muffin? Today, Yeong-joo is taking a half day off this morning and messaged that she’ll pick some up on her way. She’s asking what flavor you want?”

    “Ah… ”

    Ji-an blinked quickly.

    “I’m chocolate. And…”

    He couldn’t bring himself to add “And one for my hyung too”, so Ji-an pursed his lips.

    “I’d like two. I’ll pay, so please get two.”

    For some reason, the three office staff all smiled meaningfully at the same time. Secretary Yoon’s expression was especially loaded with implication.

    “Got it, got it.”

    “Oh my—so persistent. I can’t talk you out of it.”

    Lee Hyun-joo playfully smacked Ji-an’s shoulder. Not knowing why he was being hit, Ji-an just let her do it.

    What? Were they implying he eats too much? Was having just two muffins that big of a deal? Ji-an felt a bit indignant.

    “No, is having two muffins really such a big thing?”

    Though Ji-an asked laden with a sense of injustice, it only provoked more laughter from the others. As the elevator departed with them still laughing, Ji-an grew increasingly flustered.

    The ding sound followed by the abrupt cut-off of laughter also startled Ji-an.

    Jeong Hee-seo was standing beyond the open door. Amidst the sudden silence, Ji-an’s eyes met his.

    He was standing at an angle with one hand in his pants pocket, and when people didn’t move, he took out his hand and pressed the button. The door that was about to close suddenly opened again.

    “What are you doing? Get off.”

    It felt like a stone had been thrown onto a swarm of fish. The three people nodded and got off the elevator, avoiding Jeong Hee-seo. Ji-an, who was trying to follow, was grabbed by the elbow by Jeong Hee-seo.

    “Uh, huh.”

    Jeong Hee-seo pulled Ji-an and got back into the elevator.

    “You’re coming with me.”

    The sound of the others’ laughter as they ran off to the office seemed to reach Ji-an’s ears. He felt his face flush slightly.

    “Uh, where are you going?”

    Jeong Hee-seo pressed the lobby button without answering and looked back at Ji-an.

    “Did you sleep well?”


    Ji-an’s eyes went wide at the unexpected tender question. Unconsciously, he averted his gaze.

    Why did he feel newly struck each time?

    Today, Jeong Hee-seo had his hair neatly pulled up. Perhaps it was because Ji-an had seen his hair down all weekend that he looked like a different person. Even the suit he wore today was a design Ji-an hadn’t seen before. The subtle scent of his cologne suited him so well that it made Ji-an think that’s what a man’s natural scent should be like.

    Why was this happening…his heart started pounding erratically. Ji-an gulped down a dry swallow.

    “Y-Yes. Did you sleep well too, hyung-nim?”

    “Yes, I did.”

    Jeong Hee-seo’s playful tone made Ji-an look up and glare at the elevator display. How could the numbers move so slowly? He desperately hoped the elevator wouldn’t stop in the middle until they reached the lobby.


    Suddenly something touched his cheek along with a “chup” sound. Turning his head around, Jeong Hee-seo was beaming a wide smile.

    It took Ji-an about two seconds to realize what the sound was.

    “Wh-why, why, what, what was that…!”

    “What else? It was because of you.”

    Jeong Hee-seo calmly responded despite Ji-an’s surprised  eyes.

    “I think I’m starting to develop weird habits in the elevator because of you.”

    “My fault? Have some shame, hyung-nim.”

    He was the one who did it, yet spouting nonsense. The cheek where Jeong Hee-seo’s lips had touched tingled. Perhaps because it was just past rush hour, the elevator went straight down to the lobby without stopping. As the doors opened and Ji-an took a step forward, Jeong Hee-seo whispered to him.

    “It is your fault, Seo Ji-an. Rein in those pheromones.”

    Turning back, Jeong Hee-seo was looking down at him with shadowed eyes.

    “If you don’t suppress them quickly, I’ll cover you with mine.”

    Gulp. Just listening to those words made Ji-an’s legs go weak.

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