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    Jeong Hee-young blinked at the unexpected question and then slapped Jeong Hee-seo on the forearm.

    “I didn’t have that issue because your brother-in-law took good care of me. But they say it’s common. My friends went through it.”

    “That’s right, that’s right. You have to do well. The sadness you feel when you’re pregnant will last your whole life.”

    Even Myeong Hyeon-suk chimed in. Jeong Hee-seo swallowed a sigh that was about to escape without even realizing it.

    Jeong Han-joo’s point was nothing special. At least that was the case for Jeong Hee-seo. He didn’t care where or with whom his younger brother got married. He wondered why there was such a fuss, introducing him to the whole family. It wasn’t a formal engagement, so did they really need to make this gathering to foster familiarity?

    “Oh, this is delicious. I always thought traditional sweets were bland, but this is so tasty. I’m surprised.”

    “Really? I’m proud if they suit our guest’s taste.”

    “Oh, Grandma, he’s not a guest. He’s family now.”

    “You’re right, Han-joo. I’m just still awkward.”

    “Please, you don’t have to feel awkward. I’m so happy to meet you since I don’t have a grandmother.”

    The sound of cheerful chatter broke in between Jeong Hee-seo’s rambling thoughts. For some reason, the better the atmosphere became, the more unsettled he felt. Jeong Hee-seo sipped tea until his stomach was full and looked at the people in the room one by one.

    His gaze passed over the smugly triumphant Jeomg Han-joo, to Jeong Hee-young, whose eyes were sparkling with curiosity, and finally landed on the Omega, who claimed to be suffering from morning sickness.

    Despite claiming to be suffering from morning sickness, Seo Ji-hyuk, whom Jeomg Han-joo brought along with the intention of marrying, had a very healthy complexion. His interactions with Jeomg Han-joo were very natural, suggesting they had been together for a long time. Seo Ji-hyuk’s charm seemed to have quickly won over Myeong Hyun-sook. Even now, he was demonstrating that charm.

    “I don’t normally like sweets, but I’ve been craving sweets so much since getting pregnant. They say flour isn’t good for the baby, so I’ve been holding back, but these traditional sweets are just… they’re divine.”

    Myeong Hyun-sook burst into laughter as she watched him munching and swallowing the food. She motioned with her hand and called out to the person standing behind her.

    “Manager Lee, we have sweets prepared in the kitchen. Pack them all up. We should give them to our new family member.”

    “Yes, I will prepare it right away.”

    Manager Lee was about to cross the threshold when Jeong Hee-seo set down his teacup and spoke.

    “Me too…”

    Though his voice was quiet, it drew everyone’s attention since he hadn’t spoken much before. Clearing his throat, Jeong Hee-seo continued.

    “Please pack some for me as well.”




    A moment of silence passed. Surprised by the unexpected request from her eldest grandson, Myeong Hyun-sook stammered “Y-Yes, of course,” but Jeong Han-joo intervened in dissatisfaction.

    “Hyung, you hate sweets. And you don’t even like sugary stuff.”


    Jeong Hee-seo found himself at a loss for words for once.

    Because Ji-an likes them.

    There was silence again. Only Jeong Hee-young showed a look of interest, having caught onto something. Jeong Han-joo thought that the silence was everyone’s agreement, and made a wedge with a triumphant expression.

    “Are you seriously thinking of taking snacks away from a pregnant person? Just let it go.”

    “Han-joo, how can you speak to your elder brother like that in front of our guest?”

    When Myeong Hyun-sook frowned and scolded the youngest, Jeong Han-joo whimpered like a scolded puppy. Understanding his desire to impress the Omega beside him, Jeomg Hee-seo let out a shallow sigh.

    “I wasn’t thinking right. Never mind about mine.”

    “That’s right, Hee-seo. Let’s give them to the guest today since he came all this way.”


    He felt like something was scratching inside him. Jeong Hee-seo forcibly raised the corners of his mouth.

    A lightning bolt of realization and empathy struck without warning.

    He could understand why Jeong Han-joo went through all this trouble of creating this occasion to make a fussy introduction to the whole family… He finally grasped the reason behind the rehearsed lines and the ostentatious gestures—to win everyone’s favor for his partner… It was actually a simple problem he could have grasped with just a bit of imagination.

    Jeong Hee-seo suddenly wondered what it would have been like if Ji-an was sitting by his side right now, basking in his grandmother and older sister’s warm gazes as he ate snacks. He inadvertently pictured the scene of Ji-an fully enjoying the affection he deserved, letting out little frustrations with childish tantrums and endearing coyness.


    Manager Lee returned with a beautifully wrapped bundle of traditional sweets and handed it to Seo Ji-hyuk. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, celebrating the new addition to the family and the new life he brought with him.

    No one noticed Jeomg Hee-seo unconsciously clenching his fist tightly on his thigh under the table.

    * * *

    Brrring, brrring, the phone kept vibrating. Ji-an had been in a deep sleep and moved groggily for a long time before fully waking up. The ringing phone eventually fell silent.

    The round silent clock on the wall pointed to 5:40. Outside, the rain was still pouring down heavily, leaving the surroundings completely dark. It was unclear whether it was afternoon or early morning.

    Brrring, the phone rang again.


    Ji-an answered with his eyes closed, but there was no sound. Ji-an opened his eyes again to look at the screen. It was Jeong Hee-seo.


    -Can you come out for a bit? Let’s have dinner.

    Only then did I come to my senses. Only then did he become fully awake. Checking the phone again, it was 5:41 pm. He had just dozed off but slept so deeply that he lost his sense of time.

    “It’s raining so much…”

    -We’ll go eat somewhere, where it doesn’t rain.

    Ah, restaurants don’t have rain. Ji-an smiled at the thought of how obvious that was.

    “Just wait a moment, then.”

    Ji-an hung up the phone without hearing the answer. From past experience, Jeong Hee-seo always called when he was already in front of Ji-an’s house. Imagining his car already parked out front, Ji-an felt a sense of urgency.

    He dashed into the bathroom, quickly washed his face, and flattened his disheveled bedhead with wet hands. He didn’t ponder his outfit for long. He put on a long-sleeved, thin hoodie and shorts. He consciously pulled the long sleeves down to hide the bandage on the back of his hand.

    Before running out the front door, he checked himself one more time in the mirror.

    Opening the large umbrella, he went out the gate to see Jeong Hee-seo’s car with the engine running. The wipers moved back and forth, making Joeng Hee-seo’s figure sitting in the driver’s seat clear and then blurry again.

    Just getting into the passenger seat and closing the umbrella left him soaked. Ji-an pushed his wet hair back and placed the soaked umbrella under his legs. Everything felt damp and clammy.

    “Were you sleeping?”

    He’s a psychic.

    “How did you know?”

    “You sleep when you’re hungry.”

    “That’s not it though.”

    As soon as Ji-an fastened his seatbelt, the car started moving. Jeong Hee-seo drove out of the alley a bit faster than usual.

    “What are we eating?”

    “I don’t know. What do you want to eat?”

    It was unlike him to ask after calling Ji-an out when he usually had something already decided. His voice didn’t sound too good either. Ji-an straightened up in the passenger seat and tilted his head. Looking directly at Jeomg Hee-seo’s face, he could tell something was wrong.

    “Did something happen, Hyung-nim?”


    Not answering meant yes.

    Ji-an leaned back into the passenger seat. The car was running smoothly on the road, cutting through the rainwater. The windows were too fogged up to make the drive worthwhile. Nothing was visible.

    “They said it was sad.”

    Jeong Hee-seo said something unexpected.

    “What is?”

    “Not being able to eat what you want. They said it feels sad?”

    “… Uh, kinda, I guess? But why are you asking that all of a sudden?”


    Again, no answer.

    Ji-an gave up on getting a clear answer and leaned his head against the seat. The car sped along the outer ring road without any traffic. With nothing to do, Ji-an took out his phone. While browsing the web thinking about what to eat, he ended up opening a game, and soon the quiet car was filled with beeping sounds.

    After about 30 minutes, Ji-an finally felt something odd. As he forcibly closed the game that had just begun destroying the enemy lines, silence fell once again in the car. Ji-an rubbed his sore neck and looked at the map on the dashboard.

    “Hyung-nim, where are we going?”

    The car was leaving Seoul altogether and passing through eastern Gyeonggi Province. It was on the highway.

    Only then did Jeong Hee-seo glance at him.



    “Did something happen to upset you?”


    That’s what Ji-an wanted to ask. Ji-an puffed out his cheeks. As he was tapping the band on the back of his hand hidden inside the sleeve with his fingertips, he felt Jeong Hee-seo’s gaze on him.

    “Let’s go somewhere where it doesn’t rain. Somewhere with good weather for dinner.”

    “Is that what you meant?”

    Ji-an’s eyes widened as he looked at Jeong Hee-seo.

    “…Is there such a place?”

    The current time displayed on the phone was 6:30 pm. Jeong Hee-seo had driven onto the highway to find a place where it wasn’t raining. Despite his bewilderment, Ji-an didn’t bother checking the weather forecast. Even though he hadn’t known Jeong Hee-seo for long, he somehow knew Jeong Hee-seo would have already checked.

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