Hye was waiting for her usual bus at the usual bus stop near her work place. It was late at night, almost 10pm. She was all alone. But, what she didn’t realize was that she wasn’t exactly all alone. There was someone who was watching her from afar, and another someone who was watching her from over the glass. Both of them wasn’t able to approach her. No, only one of them wasn’t able to approach her because he saw that she wasn’t alone.

It wasn’t 3 minutes later that the bus came. It was very cold that night, but it didn’t bother Hye because her mind was somewhere else. She had been having late nights and her body condition wasn’t tip-top. She boarded the bus and because there wasn’t many people around, she was able to get a couple seat to herself. In such circumstances, the girl would usually sit near the window, but Hye chose to sit near the aisle. She put on her earphones and played her music. The lyrics of the first song on the playlist seemed to be singing out her story. She closed her eyes and unknowingly, tears flowed.

There was someone who was watching her, beside her; Hye of course wouldn’t have noticed. Hye was starting to weep a little, but there was no noise. The man seated next to her stretched out his hand to wipe off those tears rolling down the cheecks. The cold touch startled Hye.

Turning her head fast, Hye saw JaeJoong seated right next to her. She couldn’t help but weeped more.

“What’s wrong?” JaeJoong asked, being concerned.

“Nothing.”

“Don’t lie.”

“It’s really nothing.”

“You know I can’t read your thoughts recently.”

“Have you tried?”

“I…” JaeJoong is lost for words. He didn’t know how to explain it to Hye. No matter how hard he tried to read her mind, he can’t. And, he was kept away from her with his mission.

“See…” Hye tried to force a smile. “Why are you here at this timing?”

“Why? I was here all along. But, someone was so busy crying that she…” JaeJoong was trying to cheer up Hye.

Hye pouted and stared hard at JaeJoong.

“And… You know.. Usually, at times like this, the ladies would usually sit at the window seat. And, they would rest their head on the window… Why?” JaeJoong stopped his nonsense when Hye continued to stare at him.

“Why would I? When there’s no one else. And, it has always been my habit to sit here.”

“Oh, really?”

The next song continued to play on Hye’s music player. JaeJoong took the ear phone resting on the left side of Hye’s ear and put it into his own.

“What song was it that made you so upset?”

“Ung?”

“You were crying.”

“I… It wasn’t the song.”

“You’re lying.”

“It’s up to you to believe it or not.”

JaeJoong didn’t argue with Hye. He sat upright to match his shoulders to be higher than Hye. Then, he put his left hand over her shoulder and pushed her head to rest on his right shoulder.

“Why?” Hye tried to lift her head upright.

“Just for a while. Just stay like this for a while.”

The third song continued to play on. Tonight, weirdly it seems, all the songs on Hye’s playlist seemed to be playing stories about their past. Both Hye and JaeJoong have many parts of their stories in bits and pieces. One thing JaeJoong didn’t realize is that Hye had a companion who was looking out for her at a distance.

The bus drove on and it soon came to the stop that Hye needed to alight. Hye took the ear phone off from JaeJoong’s ear and stood up immediately.

“Oppa, I’ll alight and walk home myself. You don’t have to see me home.”

“Hye…”

With that, Hye alighted the bus and ran a little until she was sure she wouldn’t be seen from the bus stop. As she ran, she couldn’t stop herself from crying. She sat at a bench and cried with all her might. Someone was seated next to her. He was protecting her in his own way.

JaeJoong saw that Hye was seated alone on the bench and she kept weeping. Upset, he wasn’t able to take a step forward towards her so he could sit beside her and comfort her.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Hye, I’m really sorry.” JaeJoong found himself crying for the first time after his death.

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“Mr. Kim JaeJoong, you didn’t forget about your mission, have you?”

“Senior, I haven’t. It’s just…” JaeJoong knew that he failed on his mission tonight.

“As your senior, I only have one advise for you. You’re already dead. Don’t mess with the life of the living. No matter what you do, you can’t turn back time.”

JaeJoong nodded when his senior put an arm over his shoulder to usher him that he should leave.

“Now that you’ve seen her enter the door of her own house, you should feel more at ease.”

“Thank you, senior.”

His senior let out a sigh and commented, “I seriously have nothing to comment about your relationship with her.”

“You don’t have to.”

“Your fate with her ended in this life. But, no one can tell what’s coming up next. Haven’t you know enough to be able to guess?”

“What… do you mean… with that?”

“Come on, boy.”

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“You’re upset, aren’t you?”

Hye entered her own room and he followed behind her. Hye slammed the door right at his face. But, in any way, it wouldn’t matter to him.

“You’re upset because of him.”

Hye went to her table and put her bag down.

“What can you do about it?”

Hye sat down on her chair.

“There’s nothing that you can do even if you’re upset.” As he said that, Hye was tying up her hair.

“You’re not going to start to cry again?” Hye folded her legs right in front of her chest, on her chair.

“Alright, for a day like today. You should cry your heart out.”

That night, Hye cried for a long time and she didn’t even bothered bathing or changed to a new set of clothes. Tired, she just lied on her bed and slept, without covering the blanket.

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“Hye!”

“Hye!”

“Hye!”

Hye’s mom was calling out for her in the dining area. It was already 8am. Hye would be late for work.

“What’s that girl doing? Why isn’t she coming down yet?”

“Why don’t you go and take a look?”

“She’d usually be here, eating her breakfast at this timing.”

“Morning, dad, mom.”

“Seo, you came at the right time.”

“Why?”

“You’re done with feeding the dog? Can you go and call your sister?”

“Hye is still not coming down?”

With that, Seo ran upstairs and barged into her sister’s room.

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“What? What are you? Why are you here at broad daylight?!”

“Why can’t I? I can be here anytime I want.”

“What did you do to my sister?”

“I swear I didn’t do anything. But, she was crying the whole night.”

“Crying?” That guy nodded hard.

“Hye? Hye, wake up. You’re late.” Seo called out for Hye as she approached her sister. Seo touched her sister and realized that she’s down with a high fever.

“Mom! MOM!”

Frantic, her mom ran to the second floor.

“Hye… She’s down with a hot fever.”

“Hot fever?” Concerned, her mom burst into the room. “Let me see.” Her mom moved to the other side of Hye and touched her on her forehead. “Indeed. Seo, get some ice and cloth from the kitchen. Make sure to wet it.”

“Ok…” Seo ran downstairs.

“What’s wrong with your sister?”

“Oh… She’s down with fever and mom wants me to get some ice.”

“Down with fever? Our strong Hye? She hardly falls sick.” Worried, her dad went upstairs to take a look.

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With that, Hye’s mom busied herself the whole morning, trying to lower Hye’s body temperature. A house doctor had been called in and medicine prescribed. Worried, Hye’s mom couldn’t leave Hye an inch, but it was almost lunch time.

“My dear, you need to take your medicine. I’ll cook you something, alright?” Hye’s mom said in a very soft voice.

She left the room.

That guy who was watching this whole thing came forth and took a look at Hye.

“I’m supposed to protect you. But, I couldn’t stop you from having a fever. You’ll come to know why later.”

He wasn’t expecting an answer, but… “Why?”

“What a scare! You can see me?!?!?”

“You’re standing here, aren’t you?” Hye said as she lifted her hand and pointed at the direction he was standing.

“I… am…” Puzzled, that guy continued to ask, “But, how did you manage to see me? No, no, no, since when did you know of my presence?”

“You’re questioning a sick person?”

“You’re not that sick that you can’t answer a question or think.”

“Since… last night?” Hye wasn’t certain. So, she added, “But, I know you’ve been around.”

“You knew? Must be your talkative sister!”

“No… it wasn’t… Seo. She… didn’t say anything.”

“Hmm… interesting.”

“What doesn’t interest you?”

“You interest me.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

Hye threw a glance at him.

“What’s your name?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Why can’t you?”

“Wait… Why aren’t you scared?”

“Should I be?”

“True, after what you’ve been true.”

Hye ignored him.

“So, who else do you see?” He paused for a moment before adding, “Other than him.”

“Just you and him.”

“Oh?”

“Since you have no name, let me name you.”

“No, thank you.” He tried to say politely but strongly rejecting.

“I insist.” Hye sat up and thought for a moment. She took in a deep breath and heaved out a sigh. “I shall call you ‘shadow’.

“Eh? Why shadow?”

“You don’t like it?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“No, actually. Because you seemed like a shadow when I knew of your presence.”

“Wait, meaning you couldn’t see my actual figure?”

Hye nodded before she rested her head on the pillow again.

“Mom’s coming.” Hye warned.

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“Hye, come, eat this and eat your medicine.”

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What seemed like a long journey began in Hye’s mind again.

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It was autumn. It was dark at night. Hye was walking by herself and she came to the signboard. She couldn’t read what was written. But, she entered. As soon as she did, the place lit up. It was a busy place. She took a glance around her surroundings. Then, she saw that she was being escorted by a lot of people behind her.

“The night is cold. Why don’t you return?”

“No, I barely came.” Hye responded to the voice.

Hye continued to walk. Then, to her astonishment, she realized that people behind her are disappearing. She turned back to see.

“What are you looking at? Why aren’t you following me?”

Hye turned in front to see a familiar face.

“Why are you in a daze? You want me to hold your hand?” With that, the guy held her hand and dragged her to walk forward.

“Where are we?” Hye asked and the dream disappeared.

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Hye awoke from the bed and she smelled something nice. She walked towards the kitchen.

“Who… is this?” Hye asked. And, she saw herself walked passed her.

“My dear, you’re awake?”

“My dear husband, what if Mother-in-law sees this?”

“Don’t worry, my dear. Mother had went out early this morning.”

“But, still…” That guy placed both of his hands on her shoulders and made her sat on the chair. “My princess, you can sit here and wait to be fed.”

Brimmed with happiness, Hye saw herself smiling and staring at the guy.

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“Are you dreaming about him?” Shadow asked the sleeping Hye. “Do you know that each time you dream about him, you would end up tearning. Although you wouldn’t know what exactly happened, but your dream will stay with you. I only worry that, you’d feel miserable on the day you get the full story.”

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“Oppa!” Hye was waving towards a guy who was standing beside a red posh car.

“You’re late. Get on quick.”

“I’m sorry. I was preparing.”

“You don’t have to.”

“How do I look? I’m going home today.”

“Pretty as usual.”

“Really?” Hye stared at herself and into the rear mirror.

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“I’m sorry. I didn’t know that it would become like this.”

“Had I known, I wouldn’t have agreed to come along with you.”

“Why do I always get the blame?”

“Ain’t I always in a shit because of you?”

“Hey, high scholar! Why are you blaming me? You should say if you had a better idea.”

“Yeah, right. It was all because of you we ended up here.”

“YongJae, I’m sorry. Ung? Don’t be angry.”

“Oh, whatever. Are we really going to spend the night here?”

“We… don’t… have… a choice…”

“Aishh…”

YongJae took off his top and lied on the left side of the bed. “You sleep over there.”

“Yong Jae ahh…”

“… …”

“I got it.”

Yong Jae slept facing inside, but as soon as Hye lied on the bed, he turned and faced the other side. The dream stayed on for quite some time in the dark. Hye was staring at YongJae’s back the whole night. From the viewpoint of the Hye in the dream, Yong Jae wasn’t asleep either. In fact, he didn’t move an inch because he thought Hye was asleep and he was afraid he’d wake her.

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The day went on very long and Hye, down with a hot fever, slept through the day. The dream went on and on in swirls. Shadow just sat beside Hye and tried to reduce her sorrow as much as he could.

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Preview Part 15

What Hye saw in her dream made her drew a distance with JaeJoong. She couldn’t tell from which is which. She knew that JaeJoong is hiding things from her. She wanted to question him. But, she need to find a good time. With lesser and lesser time that JaeJoong is appearing in front of him, what questions can she ask?

Check it out Part 15: One shouldn’t dwell in the past. Our past is a shadow.

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