A skittering sound echoed across the silent room, quick and unsteady, as though something was creeping about. With a thump, the sound stopped. 

Go Min Soo turned over, yawning and looking at the digital clock next to her, seeing that it was only 630 in the morning. With a yawn, she sat up, shoving the plush blanket off of herself, frowning in the early morning dimness. 

“Little Yong, is that you?” She asked, rubbing her eyes. “Did you get out again? I’ll need to get Hyun Seok to look at your cage again.” 

A large bearded dragon sat on the floor, innocently looking around next to a vase that had been knocked over at some point. 

“Let me guess, you got bored and decided to wake me up early?” She asked, getting out of bed and crouching down next to the dragon, reaching out her hand. Very slowly the lizard crawled up her arm, lounging itself around her neck, it’s talons gripping into the slightly ratty oversized teeshirt that she wore to bed. “You’re so bad.” She said with a laugh, sliding the pocket door that led to the rest of her stylish apartment. 

Or what would have been considered a stylish apartment if it wasn’t for the decidedly reptilian air about the place. Every wall was lined with terrariums full of various different sands, rocks, and foliage, a warmth emanating from everywhere with a variety of heat lamps. A slight chittering from a hidden cache of crickets could be heard- a sound that would be maddening to anyone not used to it but one that Min Soo had long ago filed into the back of her mind as a sort of white noise. 

She walked to the kitchen, opening the fridge, sighing when she was met with nothing but sauce bottles and one suspicious looking container of kimchi that had clearly seen better days. 

“I guess I’ll have to go out to eat huh?” She said, turning her head to look at Little Yong who did nothing except blink slowly at her. 

“Don’t you have to be awake?” A quiet little voice broke through Jae Min’s sleep, and he blinked awake, blearily looking to the side. 

A small girl was crouched down next to his bed, her hands on the side of his bed, her hair in messy pigtails as she blinked slowly at him. 

“Soo Ae, what did I tell you about coming into my room?” He said, his voice coated with sleep, rubbing the crust out of his eyes. 

“You said I shouldn’t do it unless it’s an emergency.” She replied perfunctorily. 

“And is this an emergency?” He asked. 

“Well not for me.” 

“Then why are you here?” 

“I heard my mom say that if you were late for work one more time you might get fired, and I heard that getting fired is really bad, so it felt like an emergency.” She told him in the most matter of fact way that a six year old can. 

“Wait, what time is it?” He asked, turning over, his limbs tangled in his sheets. 

“It’s fifteen minutes until seven.” She replied. 

“Aish!” He groaned. “Get out, I need to change.” 

With a slow shrug the small girl got up, meandering peacefully out of his one room apartment, closing the door, the lock of which had been broken for months. 

As Jae Min ran down the steps a chubby woman with a short bob stuck her head out of the door, holding out a plastic food container. 

“Late again?” She asked, smiling. 

“Unnie! Yes, I’m late again.” 

“Here’s some gimbap for you, don’t forget to eat so you don’t pass out.” 

“I won’t! Sorry I can’t stay longer, but I’m late!” He said, taking the box and giving a little wave as he continued his run down the stairs. 

“I’ll be making pork belly on the roof tonight, so come get some!” She yelled his retreating back. 

“Okay! I’ll bring snacks!” He yelled over his shoulder, shouldering open the door. 

An elderly man was sweeping the stoop outside of the apartment building as he left. 

“Ah! Late again Jae Min?” He asked. 

“Ahjussi! Yes I am. Ae Jin Unnie says she’ll be making some pork belly tonight so come up and get some.” 

“Bring some makgeolli for me will you son?” Ko Jeong Hun called out. 

“You aren’t allowed to drink! Your wife will be on my back if I do!” Jae Min yelled back. 

“She doesn’t need to know!” Jeong Hun called with a laugh, shaking his head as Jae Min waved back at him. 

“You’re late.” A male voice called out, and Jae Min waved him off. 

“Sorry hyung, my alarm didn’t go off.” He pleaded. The other man who worked at the Subway with him, a grim looking gentleman in his mid 30’s with tattoos crawling up his arms and a scar across his lip glowered at him, his massive arms folded over his chest. 

Cha Ji Hoon had a look of someone who was possibly a gangster or na’er do well, but he was actually one of the nicest people Jae Min had ever met. He’d actually gotten him this job at the Subway, after he’d met him outside of a convenience store where Ji Hoon had been feeding cats, the older man chasing off a debt collector who’d been harassing Jae Min over his dead father’s debts. 

“You need to stand up to bullies like that or they’ll take advantage of you your entire life.” Ji Hoon had said, spitting in the direction of the retreating men. “They’re the scum of the earth.” 

It was as though Ji Hoon had adopted Jae Min after that- he’d found him the apartment he lived in, and gotten him a job at the Subway that he was a shift supervisor at- treating Jae Min like the little brother that he didn’t have. 

“I bet you forgot to even set it. Were you up late at night drawing again?” He asked, eliciting a little bashful shrug from Jae Min. Shaking his head, Ji Hoon rolled his eyes. “Oh whatever, get changed and get on the cash, I’ve got to bake the bread in the back.” 

Jae Min ran to the change room, shucking his wrinkled tee and shorts off, sliding into the Subway uniform, brushing his messy hair off his forehead and putting the itchy visor on, walking back out as he smoothed his apron down. 

Since it was in the morning there weren’t many customers, usually just a few elderly people who would come in for a quick meal, and harried businessmen who grabbed a quick wrap or sandwich before heading into the office. 

Jae Min could never imagine working for a big company- the urgency and stress that always lined their faces gave him shivers. He’d much rather work his job at the sandwich shop and work on his comic in the evenings, even if he wasn’t making a steady living. 

It was better than being a drone for the uncaring corporate masses that would get rid of you as soon as you weren’t useful. CEO’s were really the main problem in society, and the desire for people to emulate them. Chaebols were basically a plague, if you asked him. 

“Hi.” A quiet small voice called, breaking Jae Min out of his reverie. A small woman with a face mask and a baseball cap pulled over her head wearing workout gear was standing at the counter, looking at him. 

“Hello! Welcome to Subway, what can I get you?” He asked, smiling his customer service smile at her. 

“Thank you, can… can I have a tuna sandwich and a coffee?” She asked in a small voice, the small strip of face showing above her face mask flushing red. 

Cute, she must be a really shy girl. He thought to himself. 

“Absolutely, I’ll get that started for you right away.” He said with a smile. 

Min Soo left the subway carrying her sandwich. 

He’s so cute. She thought to herself. 

She’d begun coming to this subway periodically after working out in the morning, usually when a certain cashier was working. He always looked adorable with his messy hair and kind face. While she was quite confident when she was at work, Min Soo was a bit of a newbie when it came to men in a non work setting- she’d spent her youth at a private all girls school, and gone to Seoul Women’s University, so her experience with men outside of her family or a work environment was limited at best. 

And there was something about this man who she only saw at the subway every once in a while- he made her cheeks flush red and her heart pound in her chest. She’d have to ask her sister Ae Jin what it meant, Ae Jin had always been much better with people of the male variety than Soo Ae had been. 

Regardless, she took her tuna sandwich and headed back home to get ready to go into the office, despite the fact that she barely even liked tuna to begin with. 

By Natalia