, wait.
That's not true.” Kang Jin-Ho quickly denied it.
Unfortunately, what Han Se-Yeon had said as a follow-up took away his willingness to deny her observation.

“Have you ever thought about me while serving in the army?”

“Mm, well, I…”

Should he nod here and say yes? Indeed he could do that if she had been asking him whether he had 'thought about' her.
However, he knew that the 'thought' in Han Se-Yeon's question didn't mean that.
And that was why he couldn't bring himself to answer.

Han Se-Yeon continued to stare at him.
“You know, I heard something not too long ago.
It's not that you are indifferent, but more like you've met someone you can be indifferent to.
Human relationships are always relative, and the dynamics will vary depending on how the other party reacts to you.
That's what I heard.”

“I know this is my fault…”

“No, it's not.
And I'm not here to point out who's at fault, either.
It's…” Han Se-Yeon looked a little frustrated just then.
She sighed before continuing, “That's not what I'm trying to do here, Jin-Ho.
I'm merely analyzing our situation.
It's kinda funny, isn't it? I'm not even your girlfriend, yet we're discussing stuff like this because you forgot to call me first.
Yeah, it's funny, alright.”

Kang Jin-Ho didn't say anything and simply stared at Han Se-Yeon.
He had already realized that she wasn't simply whining to him, which was why his attitude had become much more serious.

“When I think about it, you, me…
I think we were both too young.
I was too impatient while you were just too indifferent.
Instead of arguing whose fault it was, we…
We simply didn't know how to be more considerate toward each other.
As for me, I foolishly believed that you'll like me back unconditionally since I like you.”


“But then, I realized something at the end of the day.
Because I liked you…
I think I had lost a lot of what made me who I am.”


“All the friends I thought I was close with are gone now.
My immature dream of making it as an entertainer was also abandoned long ago.
After following you to the same university, I'm now all alone.”

“Se-Yeon, I…”

“I'm not resenting you, Jin-Ho.
It's not your fault, and no, I'm not blaming you in a roundabout way, either.
What I'm trying to say is…!” Han Se-Yeon's voice trembled a little just then.
“Ever since I got close to you, I began to lose myself.
My old, confident self has disappeared.
I don't know when that happened, though.
Do you know what was the first thing I thought about when you left to join the army?”

Kang Jin-Ho silently shook his head.

“It was…
What am I supposed to do now?”


“That's right.
I asked myself what I was supposed to do without you around.
It's not, 'Oh, Jin-Ho's in the army now.
I hope he's doing okay,' but…
I didn't know what I was supposed to do after you disappeared from my life.”

Kang Jin-Ho silently listened, knowing that she wasn't just speaking to him but to herself, as well.

“And so…
I wanted to rediscover myself, Jin-Ho.
I wanted to go back to being the 'Han Se-Yeon' of the past.
Back to being the girl overflowing with confidence and optimism.”

see.” Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded, unable to say anything else.

Han Se-Yeon was right.
Park Yu-Min's life had turned around for the better after getting acquainted with Kang Jin-Ho, but Han Se-Yeon had never…
received anything from him.

Kang Jin-Ho believed that he hadn’t harmed her.
However, if she thought that spending time with him was the cause of her grief, then…
Then, she had a point there.

“I'm a girl who can't do anything without Kang Jin-Ho around.
Yet, there I was, trying to make you see me in a different light.
Now that's strange, don't you agree? If you want to stand next to someone, you gotta possess the right qualifications first.
You need to be in the same class as them first…
I kept thinking that I knew you and that stupidly made me believe everything would be alright.
However, if my goal was to be your girlfriend, I should have become someone suitable for you..”

“I never once thought that way before, Se-Yeon.”

“It's what I've been feeling lately…”

Kang Jin-Ho suddenly felt his throat burning in thirst.
Despite how hot his Americano was, he gulped it down like a cup of cold water.

Han Se-Yeon didn't mind that and simply continued, “I…
I want to study, look after myself better, and…
And become someone better than what I am right now.
You know?”

Kang Jin-Ho could understand her wish.
He felt rueful, and his heart ached, but he could still fully understand what Han Se-Yeon was saying to him.

“It all sounds so funny after saying it, doesn't it? I mean, it's so dramatic, right?” Han Se-Yeon sneakily raised her sleeve to wipe away at the corners of her eyes.

Kang Jin-Ho wanted to kick himself for being unable to say anything right now.

“So, like, what I am saying is…
I want us to be just friends from now on.
Even though we're already friends.”

“I see…”

Han Se-Yeon stared deeply into Kang Jin-Ho's eyes.
“Do you have anything else to say?”

“I honestly don't know what I can say,” Kang Jin-Ho replied with a shake of his head.

I thought so.” A bright smile suddenly bloomed on Han Se-Yeon's face.
Was Kang Jin-Ho mistaken when he thought that bright smile came across as very…

“I think we were too young and immature.
You, me…
If only we had been older, maybe a little wiser, then…
We could have been something, you know?”


“I'll leave first, Jin-Ho.”

“But, what about dinner?”

Han Se-Yeon chuckled while covering her face and tidying up.
“No thanks.
If I have dinner with you in this state, I'm gonna get indigestion later.
Anyway, enjoy your military vacation, Mister Kang Jin-Ho.”

“Okay, you…
take care.”

“Later…” Han Se-Yeon muttered and left the cafe.

Kang Jin-Ho saw her covering her face as she stepped outside the doorway, but he couldn't do anything.
He just sat there like a statue before eventually looking at the ceiling in a daze.

a lot harder than I thought.'

Living, maintaining relationships…
Just trying to do those simple-sounding things turned out to be so difficult.

Kang Jin-Ho staggered back to his feet and slowly trudged his way outside the cafe.
His meandering steps eventually took him to a nearby smoking area, where he silently mouthed a cigarette.

I'm sorry.'

She said they were young and immature, but…
Truth be told, it was Kang Jin-Ho's fault for creating this situation.
If only he had paid her a little more attention…
If only he had opened his heart just a bit more, he wouldn't have hurt her like this.

It seemed that he still had far too many things left to learn.

His connection to Han Se-Yeon wouldn't just scatter away into the ether like the gray cigarette smoke, but they would never be able to go back to how they used to be.
That knowledge felt like a leaden lump in Kang Jin-Ho's chest.

“I'm really sorry…” Kang Jin-Ho mumbled as he stood there like a statue.

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