Author's Note:

Hello! Okay. Okay. I know I shouldn't start a new story, but I'm totally hooked on the males from the Lee family that I've created starting from Collections of Love. Don't feel like you need to read Collections of Love or Curiosity Killed the Lady to understand this story, the Watcher. The two other stories just provide a bit more background information about the protagonist, Minjun, and his family. I'd be more than delighted if you do decide to read the other stories! :)

Anyways, here's the story featuring Lee Minjun. It's more slice of life? I can't really say it's a tragedy, but in some ways, it is. I hope you'll like it! 

I'll release this story exclusively on my blog first before I upload it onto soompi. I'm waiting for some posters to be created before doing anything on soompi. :)

Thank you, and feel free to leave any comments! I'm more than happy to respond to them! 

PS. I don't think this story will be too long. I'm expecting 15 chapters? 

Chapter 1: You

I think of you less and less every day, but when I do, it still hurts. And when I do, I always go to the library we used to frequent and borrow that particular novel, Dom Casumurro. I never buy books of mine anyways. I guess it’s because I like old things that have memories. I think every object has a story of its own, and I like remembering each of them. Somehow, I think it all started with my grandmother. Before my mother, my twin brother, Yeonjun, and I started to live in the Lee household, he and I were staying with my grandmother. She looked after us until we were six, just before she passed away. I remember her holding my hand, and with her old, wrinkly fingers, she pushed my hair behind my ear. “Minjun-ah,” she croaked while lying in bed, “I want you to have Grandfather’s watch. It’s on my dressing table.”

“B-b-but, that’s the most important—“

“I want you to have it,” she repeated.

“B-b-but why?”

“Consider it a good luck charm,” she uttered. “If you believe in it and wear it, the time will never stop. Life moves on regardless.”

“But . . .”

She kept insisting, “Keep it, Minjun-ah, and always remember to keep the family together.”
After she left, my family officially moved to the Lee’s mansion. My mother said we were lucky that the former wife decided to commit suicide. My mother has always been dreaming of living the wealthy life. She said she was sick of being called poor by her former high school classmates. She was sick of being looked down upon and was tired of being the “second one”.  So, Yeonjun and I only had one motive, which was to become the heirs of the Lee’s company, La Reine de Glace, Ice Queen. 

That was when everything changed.

Yeonjun had always been weak and shy, but he had a gentle heart. He would give his meal to a starving man on the streets. He would tend the wounds of animals. He would cry easily whenever he was scared. Because of his personality, he would often be the centre of teasing and taunting, but our grandmother would always comfort him and I would always fight back against the bullies. I would protect him at any cost, and that stayed true even when our father despised him.

Our father had not cared much about us from the beginning. He only had a mind for business. My mother was just one of his affairs, and she must have known too. That was why she wanted us to be the best of the family. That was how we could survive here. After all, the legitimate heir was Junghoon, and our father had recently found another lover from America. Mother said she was one of the most popular actresses and because that woman was younger and more beautiful than her, we would have to work even harder to win our father’s favour.

For me, that was not a hard thing to do. I didn’t have to study hard or try much to earn high grades. I excelled in sports naturally as well, and Father didn’t seem to mind my personality. I’d ask him questions when I wanted answers. I wasn’t afraid to look him in the eye, and he seemed to like that. Yeonjun, on the other hand, was too frightened to even speak to Father. Yeonjun had never been good with academics as well nor was he good at sports. Yeonjun was better than me at the arts, and he could understand people much better. He was sensitive and sweet, which were two traits that Father hated. Father, then, would always berated Yeonjun or hit him for his mistakes. Day after day, Yeonjun grew more and more depressed. Day after day, Yeonjun’s hatred and sense of vengeance started to build. He knew that to survive, he would have to be better than everyone else. And he’d do anything to do that. At that time, I remembered looking in Yeonjun’s eyes, and I knew he had changed. Yeonjun told me that night after a round of beating, “I’ll show that man. I’ll show him, and one day, he will be begging for my mercy.”

That was also when I started to let Yeonjun beat me slowly. I wouldn’t be the top of the class anymore. I’d be in the top five or ten, and when Father asked me why, I’d say that Yeonjun was smarter than me and that I already tried my best. I’d let Yeonjun win me in everything. After all, I already promised my grandmother that I would keep this watch going. I would protect the family with all my soul, and that was how I started to smile to move along with my life. No one could fight a smile.

“It’s creepy and fake,” I remember you telling me the first time we met. I think we were twelve then, and we were at the annual party that my father liked to host. We were at a garden because you didn’t like the adults’ lives. You didn’t like entertaining guests, and I knew because that was what I overheard from your mother. She told me to go find you, and Father approved too. After all, you were from a prestigious family that could be of use to us in the future.

“What is?” I recall asking with another polite smile.

You were on your hands picking flowers. Dirt covered your shoes and parts of your white dress. I remember thinking that you looked like an angel, a dirty one that is. Then, you turned around, pointed your finger at me and rudely answered, “Your smile. It’s so fake.”

“Then how should I smile?” I wondered.

You wiped the dirt on your dress and then stood up. You used your index fingers to draw a smile in the air. “Like this.” Then, you showed me the loveliest smile I had ever seen. I remembered that my heart ached. How could anything be so beautiful?

“Minjun-ah.” I shifted my heel after hearing Yeonjun’s footsteps crackling on the leaves. 

“Father is calling for us,” Yeonjun declared very coldly. Yeonjun had become like a monotonous robot during these years, but I think just like you entered my heart, you also helped to change him too. “Who’s that gerbil?” Yeonjun glared at you and even directed his finger towards you.’

You shouted and almost pulled at your own hair, “Gerbil? I’m not a gerbil! I’m Go Haneul!”

“Go Haneul?” Yeonjun scoffed while crossing his arms and spreading his feet wide apart. “Still a gerbil to me.” Then, he looked at me and commanded, “Minjun. We have to go now. Let’s leave this rat alone.”

“Father told me to bring Ms. Go with us,” I explained.

Yeonjun rolled his eyes to state, “Well then, you go bring this rat along. I’m not touching her.”

“Who said I wanted you to touch me? Huh?” you growled at him with all of your might and stormed off ahead of us. As we chased after you, I remember seeing Yeonjun smile genuinely. That was a rare sight after all this time, and frankly, Yeonjun had never behaved this way towards anyone before. It was then, that I realized that the two of us would be this way towards you. Secretly, we’d be following behind you for many, many years to come.
And you’d be the one that would stir our hearts, particularly mine. It’d be the first time I’d cry in a while because of you. Because of you, we’ve all changed. Because of you, I . . . don’t want to keep time anymore. I don’t want to be the watcher, but it’s a bit too late to say that, isn’t it, Haneul?

Because I still wake up every day with that smile you hate, and no matter how hard I try, I always see that same expression in the mirror. Then, I hear nothing but the sound of the second hand ticking, and I know that things will start over again. It’s an endless cycle, and you know it too. That’s why you left, right? That’s why you chose him over me, right?

Can I think of it that way so that it hurts less? It’s not like you’d care anyways. You’d never really care about how I feel. After all, a heart can’t be filled with two.