Yi-soo slipped into the dimly lit bar, her entrance nearly silent. Her gaze immediately fixed on Hyun-seong, an unsurprising sight given the confined space of the establishment. In this cozy bar, there was no one but Yoon Hyun-seong.
Approaching him, however, wasn’t an immediate option. The atmosphere in the room felt fragile, as if it could shatter at the slightest disturbance. Hyun-seong occupied a solitary spot at a tall bar table, hunched over a bottle of whiskey. He appeared on the verge of something, and Yi-soo hesitated to disrupt his moment of introspection. He seemed oblivious to her presence, his attention fully absorbed by the contents of his glass.
“Attorney Yoon,” she finally uttered, her voice soft and almost involuntary. It was a spontaneous gesture that bypassed her usual careful consideration. Slowly, Hyun-seong turned his head in response to her voice.
“…Seo Yi-soo,” he acknowledged.
Approaching him with a mix of emotions playing on her face, she took a seat beside him. He had always projected an air of confidence and strength, but the present version of Yoon Hyun-seong appeared alien to her. As she sat down beside him, Yi-soo bit her lip, grappling with the words she needed to say. Finding the right words felt like an insurmountable challenge.
“Attorney… Are you crying?” Her carefully calculated inquiry fell apart as an unfiltered question slipped from her lips. Tears glistened clearly on his cheeks.
As she drew nearer, the pungent aroma of whiskey wafted to Yi-soo’s nose, matching the intoxication in Hyun-seong’s mind. Thankfully, his speech remained lucid.
“No,” he responded negatively after a brief silence, a lie that held no chance of being believed. Yi-soo’s previously composed eyebrows furrowed slightly. She couldn’t help but wonder why he was drowning himself in alcohol, even though she was hesitant to dig too deep.
Yi-soo didn’t judge him for his actions. While most people might vilify Hyun-seong for defending criminals, she grasped the ethical dilemmas that lawyers faced to some extent. She empathized with the professional quandaries they grappled with.
Certainly, there were instances when those who defended heinous criminals or powerful corporate figures didn’t appear in the best light, but she fundamentally believed they were earnestly carrying out their responsibilities.
“I think I’ll join you for a drink. Would that be alright?” Yi-soo inquired.
“You mentioned you don’t drink,” he countered.
“I don’t smoke either, but I’m starting to pick up these habits one by one.”
She had no intention of allowing alcohol to render her speechless, but at this moment, Yi-soo felt a drink was necessary. She raised a partially filled glass of whiskey to her lips, situating it next to Hyun-seong’s. Even the aroma alone had a hint of intoxication.
Can you even drink this stuff? I might regret it if I don’t think twice, Yi-soo pondered silently. With that fleeting thought, she tipped the glass without further contemplation. The amber liquid glided between her lips, and the sensation of whiskey trickling down her throat sent a rush of exhilaration through her.
With a slightly furrowed brow, as if reluctantly sampling a distasteful medicine, she swallowed a mouthful and then promptly set the glass down, implying no desire for more. Neither cigarettes nor whiskey were her usual fare. Hyun-seong, on the other hand, seemed well-acquainted with the stronger stuff.
“It’s… not my favorite,” she admitted.
“You don’t have to force yourself to drink something you don’t like,” Hyun-seong responded, witnessing her reaction. He chuckled softly and refilled her glass. It felt as though the barriers of sensitivity and sharpness that usually surrounded him were gradually dissipating.
I’ve never seen him smile like that, Yi-soo thought, even though he was somewhat inebriated. Witnessing Hyun-seong, who typically wore a cold demeanor, crack a smile felt foreign. Yet, it also tugged at a corner of her heart.
So he knows how to make that expression, she mused, realizing that even someone as domineering and methodical as Yoon Hyun-seong had a human side.
Sensing Yi-soo’s gaze upon him, Hyun-seong grazed his chin with his right hand. Without averting his gaze, he locked eyes with her.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because you’re handsome. I’m not going to wear out my eyes, so why not take a look?” Yi-soo replied with a hint of sass.
“They won’t wear out,” Hyun-seong agreed.
“Heh… even when you’re drunk, you’re still arrogant,” muttered Yi-soo.
Hyun-seong raised a brow. “I’m arrogant?”
Yi-soo couldn’t help but sigh inwardly. Dealing with him was a unique experience. She tilted her head and let out a soft chuckle.
“By the way… did you know I was coming?” she asked. “You don’t seem surprised.”
“No. I didn’t. But…”
“It’s not unwelcome, though,” he admitted quietly, wiping away the tear marks on his cheeks with the back of his hand. Watching him, Yi-soo was overwhelmed by a complex blend of emotions.
After a moment of contemplation, she spoke with genuine sincerity.
“If it’s not okay, just say so.”
He remained silent.
“When you want to cry… just cry. Don’t hold it back.”