Actions

Work Header

more than friends, less than lovers

Chapter Text

Jipyeong’s eyes flutter open as he catches the sunlight entering his apartment. Maybe it’s not a good idea to set Youngsil to open the curtain to wake him up in the morning, especially on Saturday morning when he wants to sleep longer than usual.

He is about to sit up when he feels something, or rather someone, is using his right arm as a pillow. No wonder his arm feels stiff.

He blinks and finds Injae’s naked back is facing him, while her steady breathing lets him know that she is deep in sleep.

Ah, that’s right, they have done it again. And Jipyeong finds himself smiling like a fool at the heated and passionate night they shared together last night.

Jipyeong doesn’t know when he starts feeling this way, but he is always happy to find her spending the night in his apartment. They don’t always have sex though, but he is just happy to be near her.

He carefully untangles his arm and tries to leave the room discreetly without waking her up. He knows she needs to sleep longer.

“Youngsil-ah, what time is it?”

“It’s 7.13 in the morning.” Youngsil’s monotone voice replies back.

“Close the curtain again, so Injae won’t be disturbed.” He instructs, “And set the air conditioner to 25 degrees, Injae prefers her room a little bit colder.” He adds.

“Yes, I understand.”

He then walks to the kitchen to whip them some breakfast, something that is a luxury for both of them since they are so busy during weekdays, so Jipyeong wants Injae to be able to enjoy her breakfast on their off days.

He grabs some bread and puts them on the toaster while he turns on the coffee maker. He then opens the refrigerator and pulls out various fruits, sausages, and eggs. He quickly cuts the fruits, fries the sausages, and prepares some omelete, hoping that everything will be finished before Injae wakes up.

Unfortunately, luck is not on his side.

He is flipping the omelette mid way when he sees Injae walk out from his bedroom, making him surprised and almost drops the omelette he’s been cooking.

The woman holds back her giggles seeing his funny action and Jipyeong clears his throat awkwardly, trying to hold back his embarrassment and blushing face by turning away from her.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning.” Jipyeong replies curtly, “Why are you up so early?”

Injae scoffs, “Say the one who has been up for at least 20 minutes to make breakfast.”

“What can I say, you made me rather hungry yesterday.” He grins at her, flashing his dimpled smile, and gets back in return.

“By the way, are you going back now?” Jipyeong finally takes a look at what she is wearing, the blouse and work pants that she wore yesterday, and she even has put on her coat.

“Yeah.” Injae shrugs nonchalantly.

“But, I have prepared breakfast.” Jipyeong tries so hard to mask his disappointment. He has worked hard to prepare this special breakfast for Injae. He even has stocked up the Tabasco sauce in his house because he knows that Injae loves the weird sauce on her omelette.

Injae looks at him and seems to be deep in thought.

“I guess staying for a few more minutes won’t hurt.” She finally replies after what seems like a long time for Jipyeong.

Jipyeong holds back his smiles and the urge to scream to celebrate his victory. Instead he turns back to the fruit bowl that he has prepared and presents them to Injae.

“Fill your stomach with this first. The American breakfast is coming soon.” He grins at her.

“You are cooking American breakfast?” Injae looks at him astonishedly.

“It’s the simple thing that I can do.” He shrugs, trying to look cool.

Injae gives him a disbelief look and pours herself a cup of coffee. And without much thinking, she also prepares his coffee.

“Youngsil,” Injae suddenly calls for his smart home AI, “Check on Han Jipyeong’s search history. Did he look up American breakfast recipes related these days?”

“Yes, Injae-nim. Jipyeong-nim watched the total of 28 Youtube videos abo-”

“Youngsil, stop.” Jipyeong stops the AI before he starts spilling the tea on how long he has been preparing for this meal.

“Yes, I understand.”

Injae just giggles seeing how red Jipyeong’s face is, but doesn’t say anything and let Jipyeong finish cooking his American breakfast.

“Just eat it.” Jipyeong presents her a carefully plated toast, sausages, omelette, complete with spinach and mushroom, then sets his own plate before sitting down in front of her.

“Can I try it now?”

“Sure.” He puts on a nonchalant expression but he is also worried if Injae doesn’t like his cooking. He tries to divert his attention to the plate in front of him, cutting some sausages smaller and smaller, trying hard not to look at Injae’s expression.

“Hm… it’s good!” She nods her approval at his breakfast. And hearing this makes Jipyeong whips his head so fast, beaming at her.

“Do you like it?” He asks, trying to get her assurance.

Injae puts on a piece of toast topped with mushroom and sausage to her mouth and nods at him.

“Yes, but it will be better if you have-”

“Tabasco. Wait, I have bought it from the grocery. Let me check where I put it.” He then turns back to the kitchen drawer to find the sauce, leaving a stunned Injae behind him.

“Here, your Tabasco.” He puts the Tabasco on the table and goes back to enjoy his plate. It’s indeed quite good.

But when he sees that Injae’s knife and fork aren’t moving, he looks up to find Injae is staring at the Tabasco intently.

“Is there anything wrong?” He asks and this earns her attention. She then gives him her usual smile, the smile that she wears when something is indeed wrong but she doesn’t want others to know.

“Nothing, nothing at all. Thank you for the Tabasco sauce.”

She then proceeds to pour the sauce on her plate and enjoys her breakfast in silence. And Jipyeong wonders if he has done something wrong.

But he knows better not to push her for an answer. And he knows he doesn’t have the rights to question her.

So he let it slide and both of them enjoyed their breakfast in silence.

“Are you coming to Jihye’s first birthday today?” Injae asks.

Jihye is Dalmi and Dosan’s daughter. And as Koreans, the first birthday is the most important birthday to be celebrated as they will try to guess the future of their baby by doing doljabi.

Doljabi is a tradition where the child is placed in front of various items or objects. Then, the child is encouraged to grab one or two items from the set of objects where each choice represents a certain future of the child with respect to his or her career or a lifestyle.

“Of course, I have bet that she will choose the money and become a genius investor like her uncle.” Jipyeong suddenly smiles remembering the cute little girl who Dalmi always brings to his office whenever she visits her parent’s workplace. Everytime Jihye visits him, he ends up ignoring his work to play with her instead.

“And Dosan said he will put a computer in front of her.” Injae adds, earning her a stink eye from Jipyeong.

“My niece will have a better choice than to choose a computer.”

“But he is her father. Blood is thicker than water.” Injae retorts, “Have your own child if you want to have a mini-Jipyeong.”

Jipyeong whips his head so fast, Injae swears she can hear his neck cracking. And she knows that she has hit a nerve.

“Sorry, I don’t mean…”

Everyone knows that Jipyeong is brokenhearted when Dalmi chose Dosan despite standing by her through the years and helping her to build the company that is thriving now.

Injae bites her lips and mutters to herself.

Jipyeong clears his throat, trying to break the ice.

“You are also coming, right? You are her aunt, after all.”

Injae nods, not trusting herself to utter another word.

Let’s go together! Do you need a ride?

Several suggestions start to pop on Jipyeong’s brain. He knows he is being unreasonable this way but he wants to go with Injae.

“It's at 12 PM, right? Then I still have time.”

Jipyeong is pulled from his own thoughts, “Have time to do what?”

“I plan to go to the salon first.” Injae says, “My hair is getting too long.”

“You want to cut it?” Jipyeong takes a closer look at her hair. It indeed has grown longer compared to when they first started their agreement.

Now that she has mentioned it, he just realizes that her hair is as long as Dalmi now.

“Yeah. And I plan to color it and cut my fringe.”

“Why the sudden change?” Jipyeong tries to look disinterested, although he starts to imagine how good Injae would be with a new hair color and a fringe.

“Yisoo mentioned that going for a fringe and a lighter color will make me look younger.”

“But you don’t need it though?” Jipyeong tilts his head as if trying to assess the information.

 

---

 

Injae knows that she has made a grave mistake. She should have just left this morning instead of staying for breakfast. Nothing good will ever come out from a conversation after a one night stand.

Well, technically it's not one night that they have shared together. Injae has lost count on how many nights she has spent on his bed, whether to “sleep” or to have a literal sleep.

She has been trying her best to hide her feelings whenever he is near. She knows he won't feel the same way because his heart belongs to Dalmi since the beginning.

She is just a distraction. A companion. And she knows their relationship is not going anywhere.

But he is making it more and more difficult for her to ignore her feelings. Especially when he is being attentive to her.

Like how he keeps a bottle of Tabasco in his apartment, although she knows he can't handle the spice well. Or working hard in preparing her favorite breakfast.

And her traitorous heart starts to pound faster when he looks at her and says she doesn't need to change her hair to look younger.

Suddenly it's getting too much for her. And she can't bear to be near him right now. Or else, she might do irrational things.

Like confessing her feelings to him.

No, that won't do. She wouldn't let him know. It will only crush her because she knows he will accept her feelings in order not to hurt her. Because he knows the feeling of brokenhearted well. And she knows he is too considerate to let anyone feel the same way.

But she doesn't want him to accept her feelings out of pity.

If it's not love, then it's better not to do it.

“My appointment with the salon is at 8 AM. I need to go now.”

She stands up from her seat, puts on her coat, and grabs her bag which she finds on his sofa. Don’t ask her why it ended up there, she also doesn’t know.

“Do you need a ride? I can drive you to the salon.”

The ever so gentleman Han Jipyeong makes her heart break again. She forces a smile.

“No need. I will take a taxi.”

“Then I will escort you to the lobby until you take the taxi.” He is about to stand up when she stops him.

It’s too much. She can’t bear it.

“Jipyeong-sshi, just enjoy your breakfast.” She replies with a tone of finality, something that she uses a lot as a CEO, leaving no room for the other party to retort.

She walks faster to the door and she realizes that she hasn’t bid him goodbye.

So, she turns around to look at him once again. He is still sitting on the dining table watching her.

“Thank you, for the night.” She whispers but she knows he hears her, “See you at Jihye’s birthday party.”

Then she leaves the suffocating flat without giving a glance back towards him, missing the way Jipyeong looks at her.

---

Chapter Text

--- Around one year ago ---

 

“Good evening, the usual?” 

Jipyeong merely nods at the bartender’s question. This is one of the reasons why he likes this place. Despite it is more expensive than other bars in Gangnam area, the service that they provide makes Jipyeong feels it is worth the price.

He is about to grab the nearest chair from the door, his usual chair to enjoy the late night drink, when he feels a woman watching him.

Seo Injae nods at him in acknowledgement when she manages to catch his eyes. 

Actually, it’s not unusual for him to feel others staring at him. Especially women. Some of them are bold enough to make a move on him. But of course, being the usual cold-hearted Han Jipyeong, he turns down their advances. Thankfully, the women seem to understand his polite rejection and leave him alone afterwards.

But she is not a stranger. He knows Injae; both as Dalmi’s sister and also a mentee in SH Venture Capital that he leads. And as a polite person he strives to be, there’s no way for him to ignore her. Especially when he has seen her.

Han Jipyeong sighs, gone was his plan to enjoy the night drinking alone. He pushes his chair and strides to the chair next to Injae. It is clear that there is no one sitting beside her, so he doesn’t bother to ask.

“Director Han.” She greets politely.

“Good evening, Ms. Seo.”

Truthfully, they rarely speak to each other, although sometimes they meet on several occasions. Jipyeong often pays a visit to Halmeoni’s stand during his lunch time when Injae is also there to help out or have dinner together as an additional family in the Seo household.

Remembering the late halmeoni makes his heart clenches painfully. It has been 23 days since they held her funeral and also the start of Jipyeong’s regular visit to the bar.

His drink comes just in time. Jipyeong flashes a small smile to the bartender and slips some tips on the table as his token of appreciation.

“Did you come here often, Director Han?” Injae asks when he finishes taking a gulp of his drink.

“What makes you think so, Ms. Seo?” 

“Well, the bartender seems to know you well and remembers your choice of drink. It won’t happen if you are not a regular here.” She explains calmly while taking another sip of her drink.

Jipyeong nods, acknowledging her statement. He is not surprised, Seo Injae is known for being perceptive afterall. 

Both of them enjoy their own drink in silence. Jipyeong is not a talkative person, he prefers to keep it to himself. But, working in a start-up company and building his career as a venture capitalist for years, he knows exactly what and when to say something to gain interest from the other party and even how to charm his way to get what he wants.

But now, with Injae, he doesn’t need to say anything and surprisingly, he is comfortable with that. He is used to trying to fill the silence from the other party, especially the higher ups, to engage them in a meaningful conversation, hoping that he has put himself enough out there to get what he wants from them. Whether it’s their network, investment, or just putting his name out there as someone to watch out for. 

“Do you start to come here after that day?” Injae asks and Jipyeong knows exactly what she means.

“Yeah.” He feels like being choked up again. 

If he is being honest, Halmeoni is the most important person in his life. Although they are not blood related, he feels like she is the only person that genuinely cares about him. Now she is gone and Jipyeong doesn’t know what to feel. He feels that he hasn’t given her what she deserves.

“Does drinking help?” She asks again.

“A little.”

“That’s good to know.” She takes a sip of her glass again.

“How are you feeling, Ms. Seo? And how is everyone doing?” It’s Jipyeong’s turn to ask, watching how the cold facade that Seo Injae often wears cracks a little, showing a hint of sadness behind her eyes that she tries so hard to hide.

“That’s very nice of you to ask, Director Han.” She replies curtly, “Everyone is doing their best to cope with sadness.” She gives him a small smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Thankfully, Dalmi’s baby manages to be a perfect distraction.”

Jipyeong almost forgot about Dalmi who just delivered a baby girl one month ago. She is taking her maternity leave, so he rarely meets her. They met during Halmeoni’s funeral but he had completely forgotten about her baby.

He will send some presents for the baby tomorrow, he reminds himself. 

“Then, what about you Ms. Seo? How are you feeling?” He isn’t called the Gordon Ramsay of the investment world if he lets his question go unanswered.

She looks at him in the eye, trying to weigh whether she ought to tell him the truth or just saying that she is fine. Just like how she does to everybody else.

But she knows that he is feeling the same. Although they are not family, she knows that Halmeoni loves Jipyeong just as she loves her grand daughters. And seeing how devoted Jipyeong was when he accompanied Halmeoni to her last days, makes her realize that it is useless to cover her sadness. He has seen her trying to drink her sorrow away, afterall.

“Losing someone is always hard.” She finally decides to speak after a whole agonizing minute, “But losing Halmeoni when I haven’t been able to give her everything that she deserves is the hardest.”

Injae tries so hard not to cry in front of others, trying to blink away her tears threatening to spill and control her breathing. Jipyeong remembers that she doesn’t even cry during Halmeoni’s funeral, standing firm to comfort Dalmi and arrange everything perfectly. But not shedding tears doesn’t mean that she is not sad of losing Halmeoni.

“I get your point. I also feel the same way.” He adds, as if trying to comfort Injae. He reaches into his suit pocket and grabs a handkerchief, putting it on the table for Injae to use. Injae flashes him a thankful smile before using his handkerchief to dab her tears.

“There are so many things that I wish I can give to Halmeoni.” Jipyeong looks at the drink that he has on his hand, twirling the glass absentmindedly.

Injae, having been able to control herself, looks at him and smiles softly, “I think out of Dalmi, Dosan, you, and me, you are her most favorite one.” Jipyeong smiles hearing that, it’s good to hear that Halmeoni loves him despite not being blood related.

“She always says ‘my good boy’ and mentions your name whenever she could.” She adds, “Sometimes... I envy you.”

Jipyeong looks at her questioningly, “Why?”

“You are not part of the family but you seem closer to Halmeoni compared to me, her own granddaughter.”

“You even have spent time with her longer than I do.” She sighs regretfully, “I was a fool back then, and wasted my time when I was able to meet her.”

She dabs his handkerchief into her eyes, trying not to cry again. 

“I don’t think you have wasted your time.” Jipyeong looks at her, “Although it’s a bit late, you have tried your best to be with Halmeoni whenever you have free time.”

Injae looks at him and smiles softly hearing his encouraging words, “You are not like Han Jipyeong that I know. The one who has a scathing tongue.” Jipyeong looks away abashedly, is he really that frightening? Is that what everyone thinks of him?

“... but I appreciate your kind words. Thank you, Director Han.” She adds and for the first time that night, Jipyeong sees her true smile, not the usual smile she wears to show others. 

Maybe it’s alcohol talking but Jipyeong finds that her true smile is quite attractive. He wants to see more of it.

“You are right, Director Han, drinking does help.”

“Han Jipyeong.”

The woman besides him looks at him, tilting her head as if prompting him to explain.

“We are not in the office, you can call me Han Jipyeong rather than Director Han.”

“Okay, Jipyeong-sshi. But only if you call me Injae.” 

“Call.” Jipyeong raises his glass. Injae follows him and they clink their glass together. 

Cheers to their newly found friendship.

 

---

 

“I’m sorry, Sir and Madam, we are closing. Do you have the last order?” The bartender interrupts the heated discussion between the remaining two people.

Injae and Jipyeong stop immediately and look at the bartender.

“What time is it now?” He asks.

“Around 3 AM in the morning, Sir.” The bartender gives them a weak smile, as if trying to let them know that although he appreciates the tip the pair has given to him, he needs to close the bar and gets some sleep.

“Is it that late?” Injae is bewildered, “Sorry to keep you so long, we will be going now.” She smiles apologetically to the bartender. When she is about to grab her purse to close her tab, Jipyeong stops her.

“It’s on me.” He gives his black card to the bartender to pay for the bill. She is about to argue but Jipyeong’s eyes are telling her that he doesn’t want to hear any rejection. So, she just sighs and lets him pay the bill.

“Thank you,” Injae says when they are out of the bar, walking to the parking lot, “For the treat and the fruitful discussion. It’s been a long time since I’ve found a good discussion partner.”

“Likewise, Injae-sshi.” Jipyeong smiles back at her. There are only their cars remaining in the parking lot.

But both of them are still frozen on the spot, not willing the night to end yet, and yet don't know what to say to each other.

Come on, Han Jipyeong, think! Should he ask her brazenly just as Dosan asked to sleep at Dalmi’s house before? 

No, he is better than Dosan. He is a gentleman.

But Injae beats his indecisiveness.

“Do you want to come over to my apartment?”

---

Chapter Text

“Unnie!” Dalmi shrieks in surprise. She has been prepared to be mad at Injae for coming late, but her anger vanishes when she looks at Injae’s new hair.

“Surprise! I guess…”

“So this is why you are late! But I forgive you, Unnie! You look so good with your new hair!” She gushes over Injae’s new haircut, drawing everyone’s attention.

Including Jipyeong.

“Can I go inside first to kiss my niece?” She has to get away from him, her face is getting warm under his stares.

“Sure, come in!” Dalmi moves and directs Injae to where Jihye sits on her father’s lap.

“How is my favorite niece doing?” She asks with a cute voice, making Dosan’s friends glancing at each other.

How can the scary CEO of Injae Company act cute for the sake of her niece? But Jihye’s charms also melted Han Jipyeong’s cold heart, so they can’t say anything.

“I’m your only one niece, Auntie.” Dosan replies instead using his baby voice, making Injae grimaces but she decides to play with him.

“That’s why I love you the most.” She then peppers Jihye’s cheeks with kisses, making the child giggled.

“That’s enough. Let’s start the party now.” Dalmi grabs Jihye back, making Dosan pouts.

“Have you been waiting for me?” Injae asks.

“Of course! How can I start Jihye’s birthday without you? You will be mad at me.” Dalmi retorts.

Injae smiles a bit. Despite Dalmi’s rude answer, she knows that Dalmi doesn’t want her to miss out on any important family matters. They have lost many memories together during their childhood, so both of them make sure that it won’t happen again in the future.

Then they start to sing the birthday song for the birthday girl and cut the cake. Then the doljabi event started.

Dosan sets up a gavel, stethoscope, microphone, money, computer and book on the table and Dalmi sits the toddler in front of the table.

Everyone is cheering for Jihye to grab something from the table. The boys even start betting on her choice, earning a pinch on their side from Dalmi.

“How dare you make a bet on my daughter?!”

“Which one would you like her to choose?”

Injae, who is watching everything silently with a smile on her face, jumps a little when Jipyeong suddenly is standing beside her.

Then she quickly gathers her composure, “I don’t think it matters. I just hope that she grows healthily and happily.” She then smiles widely when baby Jihye grabs a gavel and several sighs are heard because they lost the bet.

Jipyeong watches her with an unreadable expression, he doesn’t even take a look at Jihye’s choice. And she is getting uncomfortable with all the attention he has been giving her.

“Looks like you lose your bet too.” She tries to divert his attention to Jihye by pointing at the ruckus happening because Dosan tries to persuade Jihye to change her choice.

“Anything as long as it’s not a computer is fine for me too.” He grins, “As long as Dosan loses.”

This time, Injae is the one who looks at him strangely. Jipyeong lifts his eyebrow, as if asking what’s wrong. But before he gets his answer, Dalmi appears.

“There you are! I need to talk to you for a while, Unnie!” She grabs Injae’s arm and pulls her to the kitchen. “Mr. Han, you can start eating with the guys!”

Then Jipyeong feels Dosan nudges him and gives him a plate.

“What are they doing?” He asks, curious.

“Oh, it’s another matchmaking plan for Injae noona.” Dosan shrugs, grabbing himself a slice of pizza and starts to feed Jihye.

“Matchmaking plan?” Jipyeong repeats as if he doesn’t believe what he has just heard, “Did Injae know about it?” Because he knows Injae wouldn't be happy if she knew.

“Of course, noona doesn’t know about it yet. She will throw a fit if she knows. Some of her blind dates that Dalmi has set her up with, ended up in disaster.”

“But, I heard from Dalmi that this guy might be the perfect match for Injae-sshi, right?” Saha joins the conversation, making Jipyeong's frowns grow deeper.

Does everyone except him know about the plan?

“Yeah. I have met him. He seems like a decent guy.”

“Who is it?” Jipyeong might have asked too quickly but he doesn’t care.

“Kim Dongwan, VP of Technology from THE SHINHWA BANK.”

 

---

 

The light automatically turns on when he enters his flat, dragging his heavy body to the nearest couch and plopping on it.

“Youngsil-ah…” He glances at the smart home device that glows as if waiting for his next commands.

“Find every information available on the internet about Kim Dongwan, THE SHINHWA BANK.”

“Yes, I understand.”

It’s not like Jipyeong doesn’t know him. He knows the man, both of them have met each other in several events and occasions. THE SHINHWA BANK even has become one of the SANDBOX’s main partners in some start-up events.

He knows Kim Dongwan as a rep of THE SHINHWA BANK. But Kim Dongwan as a person, he doesn’t know him very well.

Youngsil then recites several information taken from Kim Dongwan’s LinkedIn and several other websites. Turns out THE SHINHWA BANK is the first Korean bank and one of the first banks in Asia that has tapped into digital banking. And this project is led by Kim Dongwan.

The man is also famous for his philanthropic ways, donating regularly for several causes.

The more Youngsil provides him with information, the more his head throbs.

Although he hates to admit it, he knows that Kim Dongwan is a force to be reckoned with. 

Chapter Text

Jipyeong is on his way to meet one of his latest mentees to discuss a business proposal when he sees Dalmi, Dosan, Yisoo, and Saha are standing in front of one meeting room, ears on the door as if trying to overhear some conversations.

“What are you doing?” He asks.

“Sstt..” All of them chorus, making Jipyeong bewildered. 

What the heck?

Thanking God for his taller than average stature, Jipyeong takes a look at who is using the meeting room through the upper part of the glass wall and he sees them.

Injae is smiling at the man that he remembers as Kim Dongwan.

What the hell is he doing here? And what are they talking about?

Without him realizing, he scoots closer to the group, trying to hear the conversation happening inside the room and slightly pushing Yisoo and Saha away, making the girls send him a disgusted look and leave the trio alone.

“I hope it’s going well.” Dosan whispers.

“Of course, it is! See, it’s very rare for Unnie to smile at a man like that!” Dalmi points at the smiling Injae.

And as a constant presence in Seo Injae’s life lately, Jipyeong has to admit that she is right. It’s very rare for him to see Injae’s genuine smile.

What does he do to make you smile like that?

“What do you think, Director Han? Don't they look good together?” Dalmi asks him.

Jipyeong frowns, suddenly irritated at Dalmi’s action. 

If it’s not because of her, there won’t be Kim Dongwan in Seo Injae’s life.

“I think I’m not the right person to say anything about it.”

Jipyeong just realizes that his heart clenches hearing those words coming from his mouth. It emphasizes their relationship, or lack thereof.

“But, what I can say about it is that you,” He turns to Dalmi and looks her in the eye, warning her, “have no right to interfere with others’ life, including your own sister.”

Dalmi scoffs at his words, “Director Han, I want the best for my sister and I want her to be happy. That’s why I want her to find love like Dosan and I do.”

Jipyeong grimaces inwardly hearing the blunt words from Dalmi. He has known that Dalmi is straightforward, Injae is too, but somehow he knows that Injae would not say the same thing directly to him, especially if they had history like he and Dalmi had.

Why did I start to compare these two sisters?

“Do you think that Injae-sshi is not happy?” Jipyeong genuinely asks. Does he make her happy? Has she ever felt happy during their time together?

“Of course. Unnie is always alone and puts others’ needs before herself. Now, it’s the perfect time for her to find her own happiness.”

“Happiness does not always come in the form of love, Dalmi-sshi.” Jipyeong argues, feels personally attacked by Dalmi’s words, “Her company is thriving, she is achieving many things. If you think that she is unhappy, maybe you have to ask her first.”

“And do you think that she will say the truth?” She scoffs, “Knowing my sister, she will put the brave face and say that everything is fine. Although it’s not.”

Well, Jipyeong has no reply on that one.

“What are you doing here?” Injae’s voice makes everyone is taken by surprise. 

She is standing in front of the open door with Kim Dongwan trailing behind her, sending a friendly smile at the intruders.

“Um… We need the room to discuss something.” 

Thanks God for his well-functioning brain in the midst of crisis.

“Yes, we need to discuss a project proposal with Director Han.” Dosan adds, trying to cover up Jipyeong’s poor excuse.

Injae eyes them one by one and lingers a little longer on Jipyeong who is trying so hard to mask his nervousness.

“Do you need the room?” She asks Jipyeong, as if trying to confirm, and he gives her a small nod.

“Okay then, you can have the room.” Injae says and everyone is just able to breathe normally. 

She then turns towards Kim Dongwan, “I think we need to continue the discussion elsewhere, Dongwan-sshi.”

Jipyeong frowns at the friendly tone Injae uses towards her new friend.

“How about we have lunch together while continuing the discussion? It’s almost lunch time after all.” Kim Dongwan offers, not realizing that Jipyeong has been glaring at him.

There is no way Injae would ag-

“Great idea! I know a great place.” 

Jipyeong’s jaw drops hearing Injae’s reply.

“I trust your choice, Injae-sshi.” The man gives her another smile.

“We’ll be going first then, Dalmi-sshi, Dosan-sshi.” He slightly nods to Dalmi and Dosan who bow at him. He is one of the prominent figures in the IT industry after all.

“And it’s nice to see you again, Han Jipyeong-sshi.” He turns to Jipyeong and extends his hand, which Jipyeong receives with a firmer than usual handshake.

“Likewise, Kim Dongwan-sshi.”

 

---

 

Jipyeong is supposed to finish reviewing the stack of the paperworks sitting on his table. But to be honest, he can't focus on his work at all since the afternoon.

Like now, he has been reading the same sentence for 19 times, trying to figure out the meaning, although he is sure the document is written in Korean. 

What did they talk about? 

I should have joined the lunch, pushed my way into the discussion like I used to do when I was pursuing Dalmi.

But Injae is not the guileless Dalmi. She will kill him on the spot if he tries to interfere.

Heck he is sure that she had known that  something was wrong when she found them eavesdropping their conversation. 

She just politely brushed it off, not wanting to make a scene in front of Kim Dongwan.

Unknowingly, his hold on the paper that he has been holding clenches, making his team members steal a worried glance at him.

"Director Han, are you okay?" 

Dongcheon, after being pushed by the other team members for being the closest to Jipyeong, gathers his courage to ask the prickly director.

"Of course, I am okay! Why I shouldn't be, right?"

Jipyeong's sudden outburst makes everyone shocked but unable to refute anything so they just nod at his word.

"They are just having lunch together once and we have dinner together almost every week!" Jipyeong says to no one in particular.

"Dongcheon-ah, what do you think? Should I be worried that she will change her mind after only one lunch? No, right?"

"No, Sir." Dongcheon doesn't understand what Jipyeong is talking about, but the last time he was being weird was when he was chasing Seo Dalmi.

And he mentioned dinner, so maybe…

"Director Han, is it about a woman?" 

The women start to giggle and talk between themselves.

Does the great Han Jipyeong finally fall in love again? Who is the 'unfortunately lucky' woman?

Jipyeong just realizes that he has made a great mistake when he looks up and everyone is watching him with a great interest.

"What are you gossiping about?! Go back to your work, now!" 

And everyone scrambles back to do their own work, but Jipyeong knows that this news will spread all over Sandbox tomorrow. 

Hell, he believes by today, everyone will know about his sudden outburst.

In the office, the walls have ears after all.

Then his phone buzzes, he steals a glance at it. 

One incoming message from Park Dongcheon.

What the heck? Why does he send me a message?

He looks at Dongcheon who motions him to check his phone. 

Park Dongcheon

Director Han, if you are worried about a woman changing her mind after meeting another man, maybe you should ask her out properly.

Jipyeong frowns, but another message suddenly pops up from Dongcheon.

Just a suggestion, Director Han.

He looks up and finds Dongcheon gives him a V sign discreetly.

Great, now he is getting relationship advice from Park Dongcheon!

Han Jipyeong sighs and runs his fingers on his hair, frustrated.

This day is just getting weirder and weirder.

 

---

Chapter Text

I just want to check on her. Maybe she has left the office. Yes, she’d better left the office, it’s 9 PM already.

Jipyeong tries to remind himself that he just wants to check on Injae for a while. He keeps his hope low when he sees the deserted corridor where her office is located has turned off the lights. But, the only light comes from the Injae Company’s office.

Of course, only Seo Injae who is as workaholic as him stays in the office this late.

Jipyeong walks slowly towards the office and lets himself linger for a while in front of the glass door, watching Injae furiously write something on her computer.

She must be working on a business proposal.

Jipyeong can’t help but to be fascinated at how serious Injae is when she is working. Brows furrowed, lips pursed, and sometimes mutters to herself.

“Do you need anything, Mr. Han?”

Jipyeong immediately loses his calm when he hears her calling him from inside the office. He clears his throat and unconsciously tries to smooth down his front shirt in a poor attempt to be more presentable in front of Injae.

Aish, he should have checked himself in the toilet before coming here.

He opens the door of her office and saunters to Injae’s desk at the end of the room, grabbing the nearest swivel chair, pushes it next to Injae, and makes himself comfortable.

“What are you doing?”

“Writing a business proposal…” Great minds think alike, Jipyeong smiles to himself.

“... for THE SHINHWA BANK.”

“Huh?”

Injae doesn’t even spare him another glance as she keeps on writing on her computer.

“Yeah,” Injae nods, “Dongwan oppa shares that THE SHINHWA BANK plans to use our facial recognition system incorporated into their ATMs and mobile banking app.”

“If I’m not mistaken, they have used it before. Why does he want to change into the Injae Company’s software?” Jipyeong asks, feeling irritated at the way she addresses Dongwan’s name so fondly.

Thank God for Youngsil’s information earlier.

“Yeah, do you know who is their previous partner?” Injae turns around to face him and smirks when she sees Jipyeong shaking his head, “Nature Morning.”

Well, everyone who says he is frightening, probably has never met Injae before.

“Well, to cut the long story short, Dongwan oppa said that the software developed by Nature Morning has received some complaints as the unsuccessful rate in detecting facial recognition is more than the successful rate.”

“As he has been benchmarking with the other banks which has used the technology, he found out that Jeonghan Bank, who was our previous partner, has the best facial recognition software.”

“So, he approaches Dalmi and Dosan for this project. And of course, they refer him to me.” Injae explains.

“So, aside from proposing to use the software on the app like Nature Morning did, I plan to propose to use the software on the ATMs and their offline branches as well.”

“Have you checked with the technical team if it’s possible?” Jipyeong asks.

“Of course. I checked with Dosan and he confirmed it’s possible. We even have made the timeline.” 

She then proceeds to open up another tab on her computer and let Jipyeong check on it.

 

---

 

Injae is studying Jipyeong who voluntarily checks on her proposal and timeline. She knows that Jipyeong is the genius investor in the IT industry but she has never seen him working this up close.

He is detail and thorough, asking relevant and probing questions which she has to admit that she missed out before.

“Rather than proposing for one deals with them, I think it will be better if you propose an extendable contract on a per year basis.”

“It’s easier to manage if problems arise in the future and you should state here in the proposal that all the assets belong to Injae Company, just to maintain your copyright.”

“Ah, that’s right. I think Saha forgot to write it.” Injae immediately adds additional points on the proposal draft per Jipyeong’s suggestion.

“And the timeline should be good enough if Dosan has confirmed it. Just make sure that Dalmi is able to handle the tech team properly as both we know that she is a bit lax to her friends.”

“Will do.”

Injae quickly revises the draft of the proposal and reread it again, just to make sure that she doesn’t miss anything. THE SHINHWA BANK might be their biggest client at the moment, as they own not only banking business but also other business sectors. And by securing them as a client will not only open the opportunity to tap into their other business sector but also a chance to get more well known as a formidable company in the industry.

“I think that’s good enough.” Turns out, Jipyeong also is helping her to recheck the draft. 

“Should I send it now?”

“Sure.” 

Injae inhales a big breath before clicking the button to send the email to Kim Dongwan.

“Don’t worry, you will do great. Believe in yourself.”

Injae turns around to look at him in the eye, to which Jipyeong mirrors, with a tilt of his head because Injae is looking at him with a serious face.

“Is there something wrong?” He asks after a few agonizing minutes of silence.

“Thank you.” She mutters, voice small it almost unheard, “You don’t know how long I have been waiting to hear those words from my family.”

She tries to look away from his eyes, dropping her sight to her lap. Gone was the sharp eyed Seo Injae and replaced by the vulnerable young woman in front of him.

Jipyeong doesn’t know what comes to him but his instinct takes a better side at him. He leans closer just as Injae looks up and closes her eyes as if anticipating a kiss.

Jipyeong holds back his small smile before leaning closer. He could even feel her warm breath, just a little bit closer then…

His stomach growls powerfully at such the right timing.

Injae can’t hold back her giggles, moving away from Jipyeong while his face is red with embarrassment.

Damn, why does his stomach have to ruin the moment?

“Are you hungry?” Injae asks in between her laughter, earning a pout from Jipyeong.

But Jipyeong can’t stay mad at her for long. She looks so beautiful with those pretty laughs of hers.

“Yeah. I skipped lunch.”

“Why? Did something happen with Dalmi and Dosan?” She asks, concerned.

Ah, yes he remembered… He lied to her earlier.

“Nothing. I just didn’t feel like eating.” 

After seeing you left with Kim Dongwan.

“Then shall we have dinner together?”

Injae watches his face as it slowly forms a wide grin hearing her offer. She has known he is handsome for a long time, but seeing his open expression before her makes her realize how stunning Han Jipyeong is.

Dalmi is really missing out on this man.

“Shall we go now?” He asks eagerly and grins even wider when Injae nods, still unsure what to say.

He waits for her to turn off her computer and all the lights in the office before opening the door and letting her walk first just like he does usually when they walk together. He even opens the passenger seat for Injae everytime they go together despite her constant protests that she can open the door herself. But he insists and now after almost one year, Injae doesn’t even bother to say anything to stop him. The least that she can do is give him a slight polite nod to convey her thanks and Jipyeong always gives her a small smile in return, and it feels like she is the one who has done a great thing instead of him.

Injae has known many men and she knows when a man puts on an act to flatter her. She has met men who fake politeness and chivalry just to get what they wanted, whether her advice on business, investment, or get into her pants. 

But chivalry is in Han Jipyeong’s nature. The good boy nickname that Halmeoni always calls him with, really suits him. He is chivalrous not because he expects anything from her, well Injae sure he doesn’t need anything from her. 

He is adept in business, that’s why he is called a genius investor. He has billions of net worth under his name. Moreover, he doesn’t need to do anything to get Injae into his bed, she has agreed to do it willingly. But despite that, he is still chivalrous towards her.

Well, maybe to everyone, because Han Jipyeong is a good boy like that.

Injae smiles a bit, reminding herself that Han Jipyeong is a good boy by nature and she shouldn’t feel special because of his treatment.

Get a grip on yourself, Seo Injae!

“What do you want to eat for dinner?” She finds Jipyeong is looking at her expectantly and it makes her heart skip a beat. 

“I don’t know. You choose.” Injae doesn’t think she can stomach anything without making a fool out of herself in front of Jipyeong.

Jipyeong thinks for a while, lips pursed, showing his dimples and Injae looks away to steel herself not to swoon at the cute sight.

“Is Korean food okay with you? Or would you like western food?”

“I think Korean food is better because I went to French restaurant for lunch.” Injae replies, missing Jipyeong’s frowns. 

“Korean food, it is!” Jipyeong suddenly says a little bit too loud for them both, making Injae look at him questioningly.

“What kind of Korean doesn’t eat Korean food for dinner right?” He asks and she just nods at him while sending him a glance.

Well, Han Jipyeong is indeed cute but he is weird sometimes. 

 

---

 

They decided to go into a Korean BBQ restaurant in the Hongdae area, looking a little bit out of place with their formal working clothes in the midst of youngsters, mostly university students in Hongik University.

“I think we shouldn’t go here.” Injae mutters when they are seated at the corner of the restaurant.

“Why?” 

“I feel old among those students.” Suddenly feeling conscious about her surroundings, Injae looks down to her laps. 

And being with Han Jipyeong doesn’t help. His tall stature and handsome face steals everyone’s attention the moment he walks into the restaurant. She almost glares at a group of young women who keep on stealing glances at Jipyeong who is sitting in front of her, oblivious to the ruckus he causes.

Jipyeong looks around and finds a group of boys who are looking at Injae interestedly. Not that he doesn’t understand, Injae is stunning indeed. And her aura demands people’s attention with or without her realizing.

But still, he doesn’t like when men look at Injae like that. He is a man, he knows what’s going through their minds when they look at an attractive woman like Injae. He glares at them and the boys look away immediately.

Good, they should be afraid.

“Yeah, next time, let’s go to another place.” Jipyeong agrees. 

But since they have placed their orders, they have no choice than to stay and eat there.

Jipyeong is in charge of grilling the meat while Injae helps with cutting the already cooked meat into bite sizes. 

“Let’s eat, Injae-sshi.”

Nodded, Injae takes a hairband from her bag and starts to tie her long hair into a high ponytail before digging into the meal and Jipyeong chokes at the sight, earning him a questioning look from Injae.

“Is there something wrong?” 

“No, nothing.” He might answer too quickly but it’s the only thing that he can say at the moment.

If Injae with long hair cascading down her back is stunning, then Injae in a ponytail might be his newest weakness. Her newly cut fringe frames her face nicely and her freshly colored hair making her seem like a young woman in her 20s.

He might need to send some gifts to Yisoo for persuading Injae to color and cut her hair.

A few murmurs from the table next to them makes Jipyeong realizes that he is not the only one who finds Injae even more stunning with her ponytail. The same group of boys have the nerve to look at Injae openly, completely ignoring Jipyeong who is glaring at their direction. 

Those fuckers! 

He needs to do something. 

But what should he do?

Injae puts a few pieces of meat on Jipyeong's plate without saying anything,  

"Enjoy your dinner. Let's don't mind them." She instructs while making a wrap for herself.

Jipyeong looks at her in surprise and smiles all to himself.

Yeah, they can only look at Injae but they can't touch.

He turns at the boys, grabs a piece of meat, and chews it with a smile, mocking those boys who are glaring at him.

Surprise, fuckers!

 

---

Quick author's note : This is what I imagined Injae's new hair cut, Kang Hanna looks so cute with ponytail <3

Chapter Text

After the eventful dinner, Jipyeong sends her to her apartment. And as usual, Jipyeong insists to walk her up to her front door despite all the hassle to park his car.

Both of them walk in silence and much to Jipyeong's dismay, they reach Injae's flat in a short amount of time.

“Thank you for sending me home.” Injae says when they reached in front of the door. But Jipyeong doesn’t budge or bid her any goodbye.

“Is there anything wrong, Jipyeong-sshi?” 

The man looks up to her, tips of his ears reddened and she can make out the blush on his cheeks despite the poor light of the apartment’s corridor.

“Do you mind if I sleep over?” 

Injae’s eyes pop open. Although they have been sleeping together regularly, they usually schedule it during the weekends, as a means to unwind and release unpent stress from a whole week of busy schedule.

But it’s Tuesday…

As if sensing Injae’s hesitation, Jipyeong quickly adds, “I swear, I just want to sleep. I won’t do anything that you don’t want.” He mumbles the last part, Injae almost missed it. But the darkened blush on his face gives it away.

“I just… I don't want to sleep alone tonight.”

Injae is silent for a few while, seemingly lost in thought and Jipyeong even isn't able to lift his face towards Injae.

“Okay.” She says after a few agonizing minutes and Jipyeong exhales a deep breath that he doesn’t know he is holding. 

“Okay?” He asks, eyes wide.

Injae nods, “Yeah, come in. I’m just thinking if I have spare clothes for you.”

Jipyeong holds back a smile and follows Injae to her flat.

It is his second time to come to Injae’s place after that fateful night, when they first started the agreement. And it brings back memories, he even misses the familiar smell that he has grown into for the past one year.

“Make yourself at home.”

Injae then leaves him in the to her room and goes back with a set of pink satin pyjamas, making Jipyeong dumbfounded. 

“This is what I got from Halmeoni, it is too big for me but it might fit you.” Injae says, holding back her giggles seeing his expression. It is indeed too girly for his taste.

“Beggar cannot choose.” Injae reminds him, making Jipyeong pouts.

Jipyeong takes a bath first and Injae finds him waiting for her, sitting on the corner of the bed, looking unsure despite his heavy eyes. He must have had a long day today.

“What is it now? Don’t you want to sleep over?”

“Yeah, I do. But which side do you want me to sleep on?” 

Injae smiles, this guy is truly too considerate for his own good.

“It’s okay. You can choose the side, I will take the rest.”

Then Jipyeong starts to relax and lays on the bed, finding a comfortable spot to fall asleep.

“Injae-sshi…” He calls when Injae is still doing her skincare routine.

“Hm?”

“I know it’s a bit weird for me to ask,” Although Injae doesn’t turn around to see him, she knows that he is being bashful again.

“I have been wondering about your perfume.”

“Perfume? I don’t use any.” Injae, now intrigued, turns back facing the bed and he is there looking at her with a blush on his cheeks.

“But this particular smell of yours… I don’t mean that it’s not good, in fact it’s a very good smell. And sometimes it lingers in my flat even after you leave…” He trails, but stopping himself when he catches Injae is looking at him.

“Ah… forget it. I must be rambling.” He slides into the cover, trying to bury himself in the embarrassment.

What the heck, Han Jipyeong, you must be crazy!

“Probably, it’s my body lotion.” Injae replies, sliding herself under the bed cover and laying beside him, “I have been using it for so long.”

“Honey and milk, isn’t it?” Jipyeong glances at Injae.

Injae nods, “With a combination of olive oil and some Southeast Asian spices. I got it from the Asian market when I studied in the US. I fell in love and still use it until now.”

“That’s why you always smell so good.” Jipyeong mutters, halfway to the dreamland.

Injae smiles, he must be really out of it.

“Sleep, Han Jipyeong, you need it.”

 

---

 

Jipyeong wakes up early in the morning but he still keeps his eyes closed, wanting to savour the minutes on the bed.

I will wait until Youngsil wakes me up.

But he catches the sniff of Injae’s body lotion and he remembers that he is not sleeping in his own bed. He opens his eyes, hoping to find a sleeping Injae beside him but finds himself alone in the bed and he starts to remember everything that he has said previous night.

No wonder she left the bed as soon as she woke up, he berates himself and drags himself out of the bed.

He finds her sitting in the dining room, enjoying a cup of coffee while reading the newspaper. She looks up at him when he appears.

"Good morning."

"Good morning." Jipyeong replies sheepishly, he still can't meet Injae in the eyes.

But fortunately, Injae doesn't seem to mind, too engrossed with reading the newspaper.

"Coffee?" She offers.

"Yes, please." 

She makes a cup for him, one spoon of black coffee with two spoons of white sugar and a little bit of milk, because unlike her, Jipyeong doesn't like Americano. It's too bitter for his taste buds.

"Sorry, I don't prepare any breakfast for you. But feel free to make yourself a toast." Injae says when she places the cup in front of Jipyeong and resumes her reading.

"Sorry about last night."

Injae stops her reading, lowering the newspaper to look at him in the eye.

"What are you sorry for?"

"I was rambling nonsense. I also didn't know why I did it."

"Yeah, I thought you were drunk. But we didn't even drink last night."

No, Jipyeong definitely wasn't drunk. He was totally sober. It's just he wants to be near Injae right now.

Her phone vibrates and she takes a glance at it.

Jipyeong watches her eyes widen in excitement seeing the name pops on the screen. 

"Kim Dongwan is calling me." She says.

"This early in the morning?" Jipyeong frowns. 

Does the guy have any sense to call about business before working hours?

"This might be important." Injae excuses herself and walks a little bit further from the dining room, leaving Jipyeong who is dumbfounded.

What does he need to talk about early in the morning? 

He tiptoes, trying not to make a noise, moving nearer to Injae all while maintaining a respectful space.

He hears them exchanging greetings and he has never heard Injae so excited talking to someone before. 

Does she have feelings for him?

Then, what about us?

Jipyeong is too engrossed with his own thoughts that he doesn't hear Injae coming towards him.

"Jipyeong-sshi, I got the project!" She exclaims, clearly happy that her hard work is paid off. 

"Dongwan oppa said yes and he wants us to start the project immediately!" 

Jipyeong can't help but to smile at her, "Congratulations! I know you will nail it." 

"Thank you for your help too." 

Jipyeong feels his heart flutter seeing her happy smile.

"I just helped to check it out. It's all because of your hard work."

"Still," Injae rebuts, "If it's not your help, he might not agree with the proposal or worse, it will put us into disadvantages."

"So, thank you." 

Both of them are looking at each other in silence for a while, not knowing what to say but not wanting to break the mood. 

Injae is the one who manages to control herself first, "I will make you the toast. How would you like it to be? Sweet or savoury?"

She walks into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator, checking the ingredients.

"I have some bacon and eggs, if you want."

When she doesn't hear his reply, she turns around and finds him standing behind her, a little bit too close to her personal space.

"Jipyeong-sshi?" 

She watches his eyes drop into her lips as he leans closer. Instinctively, she closes her eyes and welcomes his lips on hers.

 

--- 

 

They have kissed numerous times, especially during the night when they meet to satiate the urge. 

But they never kiss outside the bedroom, especially the morning after. 

It exclusively belongs to the couple that spends the night during the weekend in Jipyeong's apartment.

Injae thought her heart would stop beating when they were about to kiss yesterday. But they were saved by his growling stomach and the kiss was forgotten.

But now, Injae can't believe that they are kissing in her kitchen.

At first it's only his lips barely touches hers as if asking for permission. But Injae needs more, more of his lips, more of his touches on her body. He has set her body alight.

So, she kisses him back boldly, running her fingers on his thick hair. And Jipyeong doesn't hold back, moulding their body together.

His hands are everywhere and every time he touches her, it burns. His mouth is hot on her, tongue teasing, she can't even feel the cold seeping on her back from the open refrigerator behind her, where his sturdy body has trapped her.

Jipyeong grabs her waist, lifts her as if she is as light as a feather, kicks the refrigerator close behind him, and sits her down on the dining table with his mouth never leaving hers.

Jipyeong starts to undo her sleep robe and Injae even helps to take it off herself, making Jipyeong chuckles in the middle of their kisses.

"Shut up." She hisses, but then grabbing his cheeks to keep kissing him, earning a smile from Jipyeong. 

He starts to pepper kisses downward, from her jaw, neck, and shoulder, making Injae gasps. 

We shouldn't do this, she muses to herself. 

But his lips make her lose all the rationale.

His fingers toy with the chemise straps and he pulls away his lips slightly from her skin.

"Can I…?" He asks, unsure.

Injae feels herself blushing underneath his heated stares but doesn't want him to stop, so she nods bashfully, earning her a one million dollar smile from him, and let him take her to the bed.

They have done it several times, and every time it gets better than before. He knows how to touch and where to touch to set her aflame.

But today is different. 

Under the warm morning sunlight peeking from the window in Injae’s bedroom, two bodies moving in unison, seeking and giving pleasure to each other.

If the Han Jipyeong during the night they spent together is stunning, Jipyeong who is worshipping her body right now is more breathtaking even with his bed hair and ridiculously frilly pyjamas. 

Injae knows she has fallen deep and there is no way for her to get out of this unscathed. 

She knows she is bound to get hurt one day. Their relationship is doomed from day one.

Jipyeong snuggles her from behind, lacing their fingers together while peppering kisses on the back of her neck, clearly basking in the post orgasm.

But he is unaware of the unshed tears in Injae's eyes.

 

---

Chapter Text

Something shifts in their relationship and Jipyeong doesn’t know why.

The first Friday she missed, Jipyeong didn’t think about it too much. He knew how occupied she was with the SHINWA BANK’s project. Besides, they have already met on Tuesday.

The second Friday, Jipyeong started to wonder. But he still kept his hope up and he could always meet her when he went to the other building of the company.

But when he didn’t find her again for the third time in the row in the bar, he started to wonder if there was something wrong that he did to make her avoid him.

“For one, Sir?” It seems like not only Jipyeong who is left wandering, he smiles to himself.

“Yes.” He nods to the bartender. The bartender is smart enough not to question him again and leaves him alone.

He glances at his phone on the table, wondering if he should contact her. A few times he manages to gather some courage to draft a message for her only to delete it afterwards. 

In the end, he spends the night drinking alone, hoping that the alcohol can help drown his misery.

What he just realizes is how Injae has become a big part of his life.

 

--- 

 

Injae is about to go to Dalmi's office when she sees Jipyeong is walking towards her. Luckily, he is busy with the files on his hand and doesn't see her.

She quickly goes into the women's bathroom which is located nearby, and goes inside one of the stalls, hiding herself from Jipyeong.

It has been three weeks since their last meeting and Injae isn't blind to see Jipyeong's effort to see her.

She is aware of the glances that he throws at her from outside the office whenever he walks in the corridor to visit one of his mentees. 

She is also aware of the hollow feeling inside her heart whenever she thinks of him.

Injae closes her tired eyes and sighs loudly, wondering if she has made a big mistake.

She is sitting on the toilet lid, waiting for a few minutes to pass so she can sneak out from the toilet when two ladies enter the toilet. Not having time for a meaningless chit chat, Injae decides to wait a little longer by checking her phone.

She is in the middle of scrolling her Instagram feed when she hears Jipyeong's name being mentioned.

"Are you serious, Sohyun-ah?! Director Han is dating someone in Sandbox?" 

"Of course! I heard it from Hyojung from his team!" The other woman replies confidently.

"She said Director Han is behaving strangely these past few weeks. She also mentioned his outburst because of jealousy."

Han Jipyeong? Jealous? Of who?

There are so many questions that Injae wants to know, so she listens to the conversation intently, hoping that she finds answers.

"Omomomo! He was jealous? Of who?"

Yes, ask her, Injae silently agreeing with the first woman.

"I don't know! She just mentioned that he was jealous because his girlfriend went for a lunch with another man."

"Omo! The great Han Jipyeong finally finds love? It's a shame someone as gorgeous as him stays single but I guess it's finally the time to let go of our office crush." The second woman says, Injae could even hear her pouting.

"You mean find love again, right? Don't you remember how much a mess he was when he was chasing Seo Dalmi?"

Injae is putting her ear on the door now, trying to hear more clearly.

"Yeah, that girl is a fool for choosing Nam Dosan over Director Han. Although Nam Dosan is also cool, our Director Han wins over him at any time!"

Our Director Han? Injae wants to scoff at them.

"Agree! Anyway, whom do you think his girlfriend is? Any guess?" 

Injae holds back her breath. Did someone know about them? Is it her that they are talking about?

"Do you know Im Yoona?"

Injae feels like someone has punched her in the stomach when she hears the name. She is familiar with the name of course, Im Yoona is one of the CEOs in the latest batch who Jipyeong personally mentored.

"Omo! Isn't she the CEO of Beauty with Purpose?" 

"Yes, she is. She is the perfect match for him, tall, gorgeous, and smart. If she is really his girlfriend, I can let him go peacefully." 

"Why do you think it's her?" The other woman asks again.

"Don't you realize that Director Han comes to this wing more often nowadays? And he always goes to CEO Im's office. Isn't it enough of a sign?"

Injae can't believe her ears. Her eyes blurred and her stomach felt sick. She has to feel her way to sit her shaky legs back on the toilet lid.

 

So he comes often to go to Yoona's office? 

Do they really date?

Does she make a fool out of herself? 

 

Injae wants to laugh at her own stupidity for believing that he comes for her. So much for the sleepless nights she wasted thinking of him. 

"Ah, you are right. I hope the rumour is true. They look good together." The second woman replies.

"Yeah, anyone would look good together with him aside from that foolish girl, Seo Dalmi." The first one adds.

It's the second time she calls Dalmi a fool. And as heartbroken as she is, Injae would never let someone badmouth her sister. Not when she hears it.

So she wipes the tears on her cheeks on her sleeves, takes a deep breath, puts on her resting bitch face, and opens the door. 

Injae wants to laugh at those women's faces when they see her, eyes wide, so shocked that they can't lift their eyes to meet hers. 

She calmly walks over to wash her hands, ignoring the women who are looking embarrassed at being caught gossiping about her sister red handedly and nudging each other to apologize first.

"CEO Seo, we are sorry. We didn't know you were there." The one that she knows as Yoo Sohyun bows down first and another one follows quickly.

She looks at them coldly, "You are not sorry for gossiping my sister, you only sorry you got caught." 

"If you have so much time gossiping, then you also have time for more work. I will have to talk with your supervisors about this."

Being the most successful Sandbox graduate to date makes her well respected among Sandbox employees and mentees alike and Injae is going to make use of it now for her own advantage.

 

Because no one can't badmouth her sister.  

And it seems like a queen has to make her own path to the crown and forget everything about romance.

Men are a nuisance anyway.

 

---