Confession is Not Easy

Missing Scenes — Episode 3


I.

Jeong-won was taken aback momentarily.

What kind of answer was that?

A question in response to a question.

Way to go Lee Ik-jun. Nice bit of deflection.

Jeong-won had plenty of questions of his own: Was Ik-jun trying weasle his way out of this? Was this confirmation that he was in an illicit relationship with Jang Gyeo-ul? What was his agenda?

"What do you think of Jang Gyeo-ul?" The question came again with renewed emphasis.

Ik-jun's chopsticks took another dive into the container of yukjeon and he deftly wriggled out a piece. Jeong-won didn't like how cavalier his friend seemed to be.

"Is that important?" Jeong-won responded somewhat befuddled. I thought we were talking about you. How did this become about me?

"It might be. Depending on the answer."

Why was Ik-jun speaking in such cryptic fashion? Jeong-won wasn't sure what to make of that serious penetrating look on his friend's face. It unsettled him.

What manner of tactic is this? Am I being interrogated like I'm the guilty party?

"Don't change the subject, Lee Ik-jun."

"I'm not. You're the one who mentioned Jang Gyeo-ul first."

"Are you having an affair with her or what?"

"Why? What is it to you if I am?" Ik-jun narrowed his eyes and stared at his friend with an inscrutable gaze.

Ahn Jeong-won immediately thought the worst. He rose to the occasion with the entire arsenal at his disposal.

"Lee Ik-jun, you're even more of a nutjob than I thought. How can you sleep at night? You're a father too. Taking advantage of a much younger innocent woman."

The words rapidly spluttered out of his mouth.

For some moments Ik-jun studied his friend's expression like a scientist examining a specimen in front of him.

"Are you worried about her?"

"Well… yeah. You have a wife and a kid. She has everything to lose."

"I had no idea that you cared this much, Jeong-won." Ik-jun's tone remained matter-of-fact.

"I work with her too. You're supposed to be my friend. Someone has to look out for her."

"So that's it? You're just a concerned colleague" Ik-jun nodded. "I am surprised though."

"Surprised about what?"

"I thought you didn't like her."

"I've never said that." The response came quickly.

"I distinctly remember you saying that "she doesn't fit me" about a month ago when I was in your office. That is Ahn Jeong-won code for: I don't like her."

"Did I? I don't remember," replied Jeong-won dismissively. Ik-jun noticed that he was fingering his rosary bracelet.

Ik-jun reflected before saying, "You've changed your mind about her."

For some reason the entire line of inquiry was putting Jeong-won on the defensive. "Why are you so obsessed about what I think about her? Are you trying to get my approval for your relationship?"

"That's funny. It sounds more like you're obsessed with her."

"Don't be ridiculous. She's just a colleague."

"Uh huh."

"I don't want to see her get hurt that's all."

"How thoughtful of you."

"I am always thoughtful."

"I was under the impression she rubbed you up the wrong way."

"I admit I thought she was a bit odd at first. But she has another side that's… interesting…"

"Interesting?" Ik-jun noticed that ghost of a smile which quickly formed then disappeared on Jeong-won's lips

Ahn Jeong-won was like a dog with a bone. He had to be sure. "You're not messing with her, are you?"

Ik-jun noticed his friend's boyish anxiety. "No. Of course not. Like you said, I'm a father. I have a wife. I like her though."

Jeong-won who relaxed momentarily immediately became defensive again. "What do you mean you "like her"?"

"Why so agitated? Tsk! I don't mean anything by it except that if I had a friend who was single, I'd try and set them up."

"What are you up to?" Jeong-won was both curious and rattled. "What friend?" He's definitely up to no good.

"Wouldn't you like to know? It's for me to know and for you to find out."

"Don't do anything to mess with her. i know you when you're in one of your crazy moods." Jeong-won glared at his friend.

"You know, for someone who claims to be neutral you are very concerned for her."

Before Jeong-won could respond to the charge, a piercing ringtone interrupted them both.


Ik-jun's parting words reverberated in Jeong-won's thoughts as he took his time to return to his office.

Don't know why he's making such a big deal of this. That Lee Ik-jun is so over-the-top sometimes.

Why shouldn't I be concerned? It's obvious she's just a simple innocent kid. Not some sophisticated, overly made-up party type.

Now that I think about it I needn't have worried. She's not really his type anyway.

That conclusion gave him some relief. Then Ik-jun's accusation that he didn't like her resurfaced in his mind. Was there any justification to that charge?

She's an odd one. There's no denying that. She's not like any other woman I've ever met.

In the early days of working in Yulje he had wondered fleetingly from time to time if she was even a woman, or human for that matter. Then for reasons that he himself didn't even comprehend, he cast his mind to that one incident in the ER. That one time when he followed Bong Gwang-hyeon out of the office to check up on her. Something inside was urging him to go, partly because he had this ominous feeling that she was going to screw it up big time. But when he got there… it was the most unexpected… and yet most breathtaking sight he'd ever seen, rivalling even the views from all the mountains he had ever climbed.

There she was, Jang Gyeo-ul, squatting beside the bed, picking maggots off a homeless man's leg like it was the most normal thing in the world… like it was something she did every single day of her life. She didn't even flinch or bat an eyelash. Jang Gyeo-ul did something that was hard for everyone else… with relative ease.

Ahn Jeong-won had learnt something that day. He was no different to anyone else. Even he was capable of misjudging people. Jang Gyeo-ul, contrary to his expectations, was someone who beat to a different drum. He had really believed at one time that she was unsuited to clinical practice. A square peg in a round hole. But there was something about how that episode played out right in front of him that shook him to the core as a clinician and as a man in a way that he never imagined. What she did moved him. It was a selfless act of Christian service. Like the saints of old who tended to the sick and dying at risk to themselves.

No, Ahn Jeong-won decided that he didn't dislike her. Far from it. She was an acquired taste to be sure. Even though he couldn't explain it, he was drawn to her and felt protective of her. The only GS resident in the hospital was someone that could easily be taken advantage of because she did what she had to do without complaining. Somehow she took it all in her stride.


A week or so later Professor Ahn Jeong-won ripped off his mask, beret and gown, flinging them into the waste disposal bin in front him.

It was done. 4 hours of nerve-wrecking uncertainty ended. That had been a close call. The 8-year-old child who had run out in front of a moving vehicle was saved despite his initial concerns. The word "relief" didn't even begin to describe how he felt. In fact, he was ridiculously happy. He was more than ecstatic to be the bearer of good news to anxious parents. Firstly, of course, she would have to be moved to the PICU for observation.

Before heading out to the waiting area, he turned around and noticed Jang Gyeo-ul chatting casually to the new scrub nurse who was impressed at how calm she had been during the entire op. Dr Jang flashed one of her rare smiles and thanked the nurse for the compliment with a polite bow.

It was then Jeong-won wondered why he hadn't noticed it before. It wasn't Jang Gyeo-ul's first time assisting him either. The new member of staff was right. Dr Jang had appeared to be very much in control of her emotions from beginning to end. In fact, there was something enviably machine-like in her approach to the job. It was almost as if she had an on and off switch from the moment she took her place beside the table. it was a rare quality and rarer still in someone relatively young.

She really is made to be a surgeon. If she continues to hone her abilities during her residency, she could turn out to be one of the best I've ever seen.

A true diamond in the rough.

Don't know why. There's something very calming, very reassuring about having her in the OR. It's not surprising that Ik-jun likes having her around.

While he was lost in his musings without thought to much else, Gyeo-ul turned to look in his direction and was mesmerised by the boyishly satisfied smile on Professor Ahn's face. She speculated that he was rejoicing over another precious life saved.


Author's Notes:

This began as a response to laments that there was a lack of Ahn Jeong-won's perspective throughout the drama pertaining to the Winter Garden dynamic. The plan is for this to be the first in a series of missing scenes written from Ahn Jeong-won's point of view. It is somewhat experimental and I would appreciate feedback on this. Thank you ahead of time for reading.

I wasn't intending to start this soon but found that it was easier to get into Jeong-won's headspace while writing episode retrospectives that can be found here [lilyroots4love. blogspot .com]