After taking a long, hot shower, Jungah changed into clean clothes and headed out. She took a bus to Central Seoul. Jungah gracefully hopped out of the bus and looked up to the lofty Namsan Tower.
The memory of coming here with Kris warmed her heart.
Her left hand automatically touched the couple ring on her right finger. She twisted it while absentmindedly staring at the ground. The brush of someone’s shoulder made her snap out of her trance.
With a deep breath, Jungah entered the tower. She rode the elevator all the way to the top of the building.
There weren’t many people since it was a dreary, cold day to be somewhere high up near the gloomy sky. The clouds were heavy and gray, and it seemed as if rain would pour of the sky any second.
Jungah walked along the gate that was filled with hundreds of padlocks. A few messages caught her eye.
Most was about love.
Jungah spotted familiar writing and stopped. Her eyes rounded as she picked up the padlock with great care. *This is Kris’s…I never got to read what he had written.* She turned the padlock and read his writing. There was one simple, but heartfelt word on the padlock.
An overwhelming sensation of warmth, longing, and love filled her heart and formed a lump in . *Even back then, he was thinking of me. He loved me. He loves me.*
Jungah released the padlock. She walked to the other end of the wall, where she had left her padlock. She read what she had written that day. ‘I’ll always be there for you, even if you won’t be there for me, Woo Jiho.’
*It’s true. I will. But…* Jungah glanced back towards Kris’s lonely padlock hanging onto the metal. *I think I need to write something for Kris as well…* She went to get a padlock and marker. Jungah thought for a while about what to write. She wanted something meaningful, deep, yet simple.
Finally, she just decided to write what was in her heart.
Satisfied, Jungah locked the padlock into place. She watched it dangle for a couple minutes and began to feel more and more at peace. When she felt tranquil enough to start over, Jungah turned around and exited the building.
It was night by the time Jungah had arrived in her neighborhood. She wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere. Leisurely, bit by bit, she walked up the hill and towards her dark, empty apartment.
Strangely, Kris hadn’t contacted her once that day. *Maybe he grew tired of waiting for me. I couldn’t blame him.*
Jungah sighed. She walked across the parking lot and looked up without much thought. Jungah stopped when she saw a familiar orange car. Standing against the car was Kris himself.
He kicked the dirt at his feet with his hands in the pockets of his jeans. Despite the dark circles underneath his eyes, he looked more than handsome in his white button-down dress shirt and dark jeans.
Her eyes softened. *Why are you wasting your time being miserable over someone like me? What am I worth to you that I control your happiness? You stupid, foolish boy.*
Kris felt her eyes on him. He could sense her there, in front of him, watching him. Slowly, he lifted his gaze to meet hers.
For a moment, neither exchanged words. They just stared at each other with a mix of emotions in their eyes.
Both wanted to run and catch each other in a breathtaking embrace. Yet, both wanted to run away from the awkwardness. This was the first time they had met after that night. There was a restless silence between them.
Before the pit of awkwardness could swallow them up, Kris took a hesitating step towards her.
He was careful. He was scared. He didn’t want her to run away again.
When Jungah didn’t move, Kris walked towards her. He stopped a few feet away. “Were you with Zico all this time?” Kris whispered.
Her eyes flickered in surprise. *How did he know I was with Zico?* Yet, her face showed no emotion. Jungah finally shook her head. “No, I wasn’t.”
Kris exhaled in relief. Yet, he still felt dejected at how you didn’t deny being with him at all. “Why haven’t you answered my calls?” Kris croaked. “Didn’t you…didn’t you see how many times I called you? Why haven’t you answered any of them?”
“I needed time to think.” Jungah quietly whispered without meeting his eyes.
“You could have at least texted me to let me know that. I was worried about you. I thought…I thought…” *I thought you left me for good. I thought you changed your mind about me being the one for you.* Kris couldn’t bring himself to say those words, in case they became true.
Jungah took a deep breath. “I’m sorry.I didn’t mean to worry you.”
His expression immediately softened at her apology. “But…” She lifted her chin and looked him right in the eyes, “There is still an unanswered question. What happens to Zico?”
Kris’s face twisted in agony then rage. “That’s the first thing you ask me when we meet? Not about that night? Not about how I felt when you abandoned me in the morning? Not about anything else?! It just has to be him again!”
Jungah sternly gazed at him, “Because that’s the most important thing right now.” Kris opened his mouth to refute, but she cut him off, “Someone’s life is at stake, Kris. Somebody I know. Somebody I love. It’s not only him that is in danger. It’s all of my friends. Block B is practically my family. I can’t lose them.”
“What about me?” Kris whispered. “What am I to you? If Block B is your family, and Zico is your first love and stepbrother, then where do I fall? Do I even matter to you?”
“If you didn’t matter to me right now…do you think I would be standing here? Do you think I would still be wearing this ring?” Jungah held her hand out, and the silver ring flashed under the streetlight. His face fell. He couldn’t argue against her rhetorical questions. Her expression softened. “I know you’re worried about my relationship with Zico. You know at one time, I used to be in love with him. But as you heard me say now, it’s past tense. I still love Zico, but I love him as a part of my past. He is who I am, and he molded me into the person today. I can’t move him out of my life so easily. It’ll be like ripping out one of my limbs.”
Kris lowered his head in sadness. *Zico is that important to her.*
“But you,” Jungah whispered, “You, Kris, are the love of my life.” His eyes rounded in shock at her confession. He lifted his head and stared at her. She gazed into his eyes as tears welled up in her eyes, “Removing you from my life would be like ripping my own heart out. I don’t think I can do it.” Her voice cracked as she shook her head.
Kris softened. He hadn’t even know that, and he had accused her of falling in love with Zico again. “Baobei.” Kris whispered tenderly.
“I’m scared.” Jungah croaked as tears fell down her cheeks. It was the first time she was admitting that out loud to anyone. “I don’t want to lose anyone. I took you all for granted, and the thought of losing any of you scares me. I don’t want to be alone again.” Her eyes fell shut as a raw heartache tore at her heart.
Kris enclosed the space between them in three long strides. He enveloped her in his strong, reliable arms and cradled her tightly against his chest. Kris cupped the back of her head and squeezed her securely. “You don’t have to worry about anything. I promise I’ll take care of you. I’ll protect you and your family. I’ll do whatever it takes, so don’t be scared anymore. I’m here. You’re safe in my arms.”
Jungah bawled into his shoulder as she clung onto him. Being in his arms felt so good. A blanket of comfort and security encased her. She had been foolish to not have come to him in the first place. They held each other for a long time until her tears finally subsided.
Suddenly, Kris’s phone rang. He pulled back from Jungah. “Hold on.” Kris gently whispered. He touched her cheek then answered his phone. “Hello?” Kris answered in Chinese. “Tao?”
“Gege, listen to me well. You have to come over here right now.” He sounded anxious and serious.
Kris knitted his eyebrows together, “What’s wrong?”
“I was ordered to keep this a secret from you, but I don’t think I can do it any longer.” Tao sighed.
“Huang Zi Tao, what’s going on?” Kris demanded. Jungah furrowed her eyebrows at his tone. Her stomach twisted in trepidation.
“Liang is here.” Tao revealed.
“What?! Liang?!” Kris hissed. “Why did he come?! How come he didn’t tell me?!”
Now Jungah grew even more worried. Although she couldn’t understand Chinese, she knew something had gone terribly wrong.
“You weren’t supposed to know. Liang knows the relationship between your girlfriend and the conflicting gang. He thought you wouldn’t do anything about this, so he stepped in himself. And now…” Tao gulped, “We’re here to meet them.”
“What?” Kris whispered in disbelief. His face was pale as a phantom now. *How the can this happen after I promised to protect her and her friends?*
“Your girlfriend’s stepbrother and friends are here. And things aren’t looking too good…” Tao nervously said.
“Where are you right now?” Kris demanded. Right when Tao told him, there was a loud shot of a gun.
Jungah froze. Even she had heard the awful explosion.
“Tao?! Hello?! Tao?!” He shouted in panic.
“Hurry up, gege!” Tao’s voice sounded faraway as he yelled before the line went dead.
Kris stared at his phone in alarm. His stomach twisted in nausea. Something bad was about to happen. He could feel the change coming.
“What happened?! What the was that sound?! Was that a gun?!” Jungah pelted questions at him.
Kris examined her anxious face. He knew he couldn’t keep something important like this from her. Zico’s life was hanging by the thread right that moment. Kris swallowed hard, “It’s Zico…”
The color drained from her face.
“He’s in danger. My boss came from China. They’re all there…including my gang…and Block B.” He revealed.
*No…no…this can’t be happening…it’s all too soon. We didn’t even think of a plan yet. .* Jungah stepped back. Then without thinking, she turned around and began running. Her heart pumped with adrenaline. Her legs felt like jello, yet she kept going. *Woo Jiho, if you die now, I will never be able to forgive you. I’ll never be able to forgive myself. Oh God. Please, no, please! ZICO!*
There was a squeal of tires as an orange car skidded to a stop in front of her.
Kris pulled the window down and threw her a sharp look, “Get in. We’re going to save Zico right now.”
Without resistance, she hopped into his car.
The tires screeched as Kris sped down the ominous night. The sky opened up, and the rain began to fall.
Kris squeezed the steering wheel and pressed his foot on the gas pedal. The engine whined in protest.
Jungah clasped her hands together in one last hope and prayer. *Please be alive, Zico. No matter what, you have to live. Fight. Never give up. I’m coming, Zico. I’m coming.*