“Hey, senior,” Yi-soo said.
“What?” replied Hyun-seong.
“…Thank you,” she murmured.
On their way back, Yi-soo trailed behind Hyun-seong, her finger idly scratching her cheek. Though not widely known among the law school students, Yoon Hyun-seong had left a profound impression on them. He seemed to exist at the very extremes.
With his striking looks, impressive abilities, and impeccable family background, he was the epitome of perfection, leaving no room for obscurity. However, there was also a whisper of bad luck surrounding him. Until now, Yi-soo had only known of his existence without ever uttering a single word to him.
Her naturally shy disposition made it difficult for her to express her thoughts clearly, often stumbling and hesitating in crucial moments. Perhaps, if she had been able to communicate her feelings to Sang-min earlier, these unpleasant experiences could have been avoided. The thought of it filled her with a tinge of unnecessary melancholy.
“I wonder if things would be different if you weren’t my senior. I struggle with voicing my desires, and it always leads to regrets. This shouldn’t be happening. I want to make things right, but it’s not easy… I’m sorry,” she confessed softly.
Despite Yi-soo’s self-proclaimed difficulty with speaking, her emotions poured forth effortlessly. Hyun-seong, who had been walking ahead in silence, suddenly halted and interrupted her.
“It’s noisy. You talk too much,” he bluntly remarked.
“Oh… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to,” Yi-soo apologized.
How long had she been talking? Feeling unjustly accused, she suppressed her emotions and fell silent. Glancing briefly at Hyun-seong as he resumed walking, Yi-soo couldn’t help but think that his nickname “smooth bastard” wasn’t without reason.
Then, as if speaking to himself, Hyun-seong spoke up once more. “Live your life saying what you want to say. You don’t have to bother dealing with someone who can’t communicate properly.”
“Huh…?” Yi-soo was taken aback.
“Don’t keep it all inside. It’ll fester and make you sick. It’s your life, after all,” his resolute voice penetrated her ears. It was a phrase she had never heard from anyone before.
Growing up in an orphanage, Yi-soo had learned to be patient and accommodating. She always had to share and couldn’t disturb the group’s harmony, even if things were unfair.
Living the life she had, Yi-soo had grown accustomed to accepting her circumstances. She had abandoned any notions of luxury or indulgence, considering them beyond her reach.
In a sudden moment of self-reflection, she glanced down at herself, realizing how plain and unremarkable she appeared. Someone who didn’t even value her own worth.
“Hey, senior,” she called out, feeling as if she’d been struck hard on the back of her head. Dazed for a moment, Yi-soo quickly gathered herself and urgently spoke up. But Hyun-seong left with just those few words and entered the building.
Left alone outside, a cold silence enveloped Yi-soo. She lifted her head to gaze at the night sky, a sight uncommon in Seoul. Above her, countless stars burned brightly, their beauty surreal and fleeting.
For a long while, the 24-year-old Yi-soo fixed her eyes on the unreachable sky. Then, in a hushed voice, she murmured to herself, “My life…”
In that very moment, something inside her seemed to burst like a firework. She sighed, and a white breath escaped her dry lips. After gazing at the sky for quite some time, Yi-soo found a faint smile playing on her lips. Despite the freezing temperature that numbed her fingertips, a warm corner of her heart emerged for some inexplicable reason.
“…Well, Lawyer Yoon probably doesn’t even remember, but it’s already been four years,” Yi-soo said, gazing down at her mug with a sense of nostalgia. Since that day, she hadn’t exchanged a single word with Hyun-seong or even crossed paths with him. Just one month later, he delivered the graduation speech and swiftly took the bar exam, eventually becoming the leading figure at Yoon & Kang Law Firm, as everyone had anticipated.
Her feelings weren’t exactly one-sided love, but more of an ambiguous emotion. Yi-soo wasn’t deeply in love with him to the point where a few words could make her fall head over heels. Nevertheless, Yoon Hyun-seong had undoubtedly left a lasting impression on Seo Yi-soo, in some special way.
In a grandiose sense, he might have been a kind of savior to her.
“I probably look a bit different now. Back then, I was much thinner, had shorter hair, and… I used to wear glasses,” Yi-soo shared, reminiscing about the past. Hyun-seong remained silent, listening attentively, and his expression remained unreadable, leaving Yi-soo uncertain if she had said too much. Feeling a bit uneasy, she absentmindedly tapped the edge of the mug with her fingernail.
“…Well, that’s it, I guess. I suddenly thought of it and just mentioned it,” she concluded, trailing off.
“Are you not wearing glasses anymore?” Hyun-seong inquired.
Yi-soo was taken aback by the unexpected question. Could it be that he remembered? Nervously, she tilted her head, unsure if that moment had made any lasting impression on him.
“Yes, well… that’s right,” she replied hesitantly.
“Black padded jacket,” he continued, recalling more details.
Yi-soo was surprised at his memory. “You have a good memory.”
“Things have changed a lot now. It’s natural that you didn’t recognize me,” she explained.
She realized he hadn’t even asked for her name during their brief five-minute conversation four years ago. Yet, over that time, Yi-soo had undergone significant changes that Hyun-seong wouldn’t have recognized her.