“Come now, why so uptight?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jeong-Hoon glared at Yi Ji-Hyuk with murderous eyes.
“Argh, what’s with all this fuss? I just wanted to sleep in a more comfortable place, that’s all. And my phone might break at this rate. I mean, 80 missed calls? What gives?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Why do you think that happened?? What do you think?!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I mean, don’t you trust me to show up on time?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Euh, euh, euh….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon grew genuinely frustrated that he didn’t have any superpowers right now. If he did have some, then even though he knew he’d lose, he’d still sock this fool a big one nevertheless!
‘No, I’m the fool.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
He made a huge mistake thinking that Yi Ji-Hyuk had begun listening to him more lately. He was originally like this, wasn’t he?!
“This is North Korea! Freaking North Korea!! You’re supposed to participate in a mission today, so what would you have done if you failed to show up on time?!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“But, I did come, didn’t I?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Right, you did.
After I had to call you 80 times in a row!!
I almost got dragged to the North’s security department while you were absent, you know!! (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
Choi Jeong-Hoon was unhappy that he couldn’t spit out flames from his mouth right now. If he could do that, then that would be a perfect way to describe his current emotions.
“Keuh-euh-euh….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
His body shrunk back as if he had swallowed a lump of charcoal just now.
‘Hold it.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
He needed to hold it in.
A crucial mission was about to start soon, so nothing good would come about by agitating Yi Ji-Hyuk.
Indeed, nothing good….
“A person should be more aware of his situation, man!! His situatioooon!!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon couldn’t hold it anymore and exploded in a fit of rage.
“Seriously, man. So much nagging.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“How can this be ‘nagging’?! This is ‘nagging’ to you?!?!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t bother to reply and simply put on a pair of earphones before raising the volume of the music up high.
“Uwaaaaah!!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon’s rage burned even more fiercely and just as he was about to go crazy, Seo Ah-Young dashed in and dragged him away.
“Please calm down.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“How can I calm down in this situation?!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“That’s still no excuse to disgrace our whole nation in front of the North Korean people, is it?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Grooooooan….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon groaned in pain before plopping back down on the seat.
“Aigo…. What sins did I commit in my past life to deserve this….?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
For the first time ever, she felt pity for him. Eyes of other agents also teared up just a little, too.
When one got technical about it, the only reason this dude acted all insane and high-handed until now was for the goal of putting Yi Ji-Hyuk to work no matter how.
Meaning, the cause of all this was Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“Please, you must calm down, Mister Choi Jeong-Hoon. You know that man is originally like this.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“It was a mistake to think that I knew him.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
What was this, this emotion?
This sense of betrayal and fear? Like, having a lion as a pet and hugging it thinking that, ‘We are all family now’, only to find your head inside the animal’s jaw even before you realised it?
A wild animal was just that, a wild animal, like how Yi Ji-Hyuk was still Yi Ji-Hyuk.
Finally realising what a painfully pointless thing it was to believe that he’d be more considerate towards you and your situation, Choi Jeong-Hoon felt like his degree of understanding on the individual called Yi Ji-Hyuk have increased substantially.
“Yes, I made a mistake.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Indeed, it was his fault for expecting something he shouldn’t have in the first place. After realising this fact, Choi Jeong-Hoon spat out a long, long sigh.
“We can’t afford to fight amongst ourselves in this place. Am I right?” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Kim Dah-Hyun cautiously opened his lips and Choi Jeong-Hoon could only nod his head. He knew that they shouldn’t behave like this considering where exactly they were.
He knew it, yet… What was he supposed to do about this rage threatening to bubble up within his heart?
His hankering for a cigarette was getting worse and worse.
“….Can we stop the vehicle for a bit and have a smoke break?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk quickly took off the earphones.
“Uh? Then, I’d like smoke, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Uwaaaaah!! And what could you possibly be unhappy about?!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Mister Choi Jeong-Hoon, calm down!”
When Choi Jeong-Hoon became frenzied once more, the surrounding passengers all jumped on top of him to subdue him.
“Seriously, man. What a strange dude you’re. I just wanted to smoke, that’s all.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Groan….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
These people understood why Choi Jeong-Hoon was losing his sh*t like this, and they could only avert their eyes.
‘Ah, so this guy, he was the buffer, wasn’t he.’
‘He’s the human suppressor.’
Now that even Choi Jeong-Hoon began losing his sanity, others suddenly felt this heavy burden on them.
‘Ah, so he has been doing quite a lot of work until now.’
‘He wasn’t pretending to be busy, was he?’
They finally realised the preciousness of Choi Jeong-Hoon and one by one, walked closer to pat him on the shoulder.
And then, one of them spoke.
“Hey you stupid son of a b*tch. What the hell do you think you are doing??” (Jeong In-Su)
‘Uh?’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon turned his head and discovered Jeong In-Su gripping his shoulder tightly. The former spoke in a daze.
“Excuse me?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Where are we right now?” (Jeong In-Su)
“I-it’s North Korea.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Are you sleepwalking??” (Jeong In-Su)
“N-no.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“This dumb as*hole, really getting on my nerves. You better wake up, or else.” (Jeong In-Soo)
“I’m sorry.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon lowered his head and quickly stood up.
“Call the escorts and tell them we’ll be stopping for a short break.” (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su issued an order, and a short while later, the bus came to a stop. After he and Choi Jeong-Hoon exited from the vehicle, the former pulled out a cigarette.
“Take it.” (Jeong In-Su)
“Thank you.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon took the colonel’s offered cigarette and deeply sucked on it.
“Listen here.” (Jeong In-Su)
“Yes?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“You dumb fool. I really can’t swallow the way you’re behaving lately.” (Jeong In-Su)
“I’m sorry.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Stop mouthing you’re sorry, will ya? You didn’t come here for a picnic, right?” (Jeong In-Su)
Choi Jeong-Hoon couldn’t quite understand why he was suddenly being reprimanded here.
“Is Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk your friend?” (Jeong In-Su)
“No, he isn’t.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Right. You came here because you are given a mission. And your mission is to control Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk. Am I wrong?” (Jeong In-Su)
“No, you’re right.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“In that case, what the hell do you think you’re doing, expecting friendship from him or pleading desperately when you’re supposed to control him? Would you have acted the same if you met Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk for the first time today?” (Jeong In-Su)
“Ah….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“It’s not Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk who has changed, but you. In the past, you had to go through all sorts of hardship just trying to send him through a Gate opening right before his house. You didn’t find that strange at all back then, but now when I see you, it’s like you aren’t doing anything for him yet you take it for granted that he must work his a*s off for you.” (Jeong In-Su)
“If that thing was so easy in the first place, why would the government pay you such high salary like stupid fools? It’s time that you show us your value, don’t you think so?” (Jeong In-Su)
“You’re right.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“So, better wake the hell up.” (Jeong In-Su)
“Of course.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon felt his wits wake up in an instant from those words. Jeong In-Su was not wrong here.
‘Since when did that guy do everything I asked of him?’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
In actual truth, Yi Ji-Hyuk coming to North Korea without too much of a hassle was already something unimaginable for that man if this was in the past. Yet, Choi Jeong-Hoon was busy thinking of that extraordinary phenomenon as if it was the norm….
He could only chew on the taste of bitterness now.
‘And they say humans would grow conceited when treated nicely.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
After witnessing such things countless times himself, he swore he’d never become like that. Yet, even before he had realised it, he had become exactly like them.
Yi Ji-Hyuk was neither his subordinate nor his comrade.
Technically speaking, he was simply a contracted external employee. Yet, here he was, expecting some sort of friendship from such an individual.
‘Since when did I become this sloppy?’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon lit a new cigarette up.
Suddenly, his innards felt cold.
“Are you finally awake?” (Jeong In-Su)
“Yes. I was being foolish.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I know that it’s hard to accept what Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk does with common sense. However, it’s your job to understand it. Am I wrong? Other people can get angry, fine, but you can’t lose your cool no matter what.” (Jeong In-Su)
“You’re right.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“So, stop behaving this way. I keep saying that you’ve lost your way, right?” (Jeong In-Su)
“You did.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon lowered his head in shame.
Half of him had been thinking that the colonel was simply being a kkondae, but that was not true. His state of mind had changed a lot compared to the past, that’s what.
“You need to go back to being the ‘Choi Jeong-Hoon’ I remember. Looking at you nowadays kind of p*sses me off, you see? You hanging around Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly become like him, you hear me?” (Jeong In-Su)
“I’ll take that to heart.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon climbed back on the bus and walked over to Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Are you going to start nagging again?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’m sorry.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Eh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It seems that I’ve been acting a bit insolent lately.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“What’s gotten into you, out of the blue? I hear that a person suddenly doing things he’s never done before is a sign of his impending death, so are you feeling alright? Maybe you should go for a health check-up soon?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
This b*stard, I’m trying to be nice here, yet, he….! (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“I, I’ll do my best to be mindful from now on.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“And you’re still such a young man, too. Tsk, tsk.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jeong-Hoon felt tears well up once more when Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at him with pitying eyes.
This is it!
The reason why I became so weird!
There’s no way anyone can keep their sanity with this guy around! (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
Choi Jeong-Hoon trembled but eventually, he had to take a deep breath.
‘Calm down, me.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
In the past, he was his role to stop Seo Ah-Young when she finally lost it, but now, that situation had completely reversed. Which was a problem.
He needed to get a hold of himself and….
“…..Once we reach the location, we might be subjected to variety of provocations.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Oh, really?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes. However, nothing good will come about by getting tangled up with these people.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I’m sure it is.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“So, that’s why, mm….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Why are you stopping there?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jeong-Hoon smiled bitterly.
“This is wrong, too. When I think about it, my job isn’t about asking you to hold yourself back, but to make sure that such things don’t happen in the first place. I can really see just how badly I’ve been conducting myself up until now.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Pardon? Wait, did you eat something bad?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
‘….Should I just behave the way I have been??’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Maybe, it was far more simpler to act as how he was before?
“Wow, so weird. You were seriously losing your marbles over something really small earlier, then you go outside for a bit only to return and suddenly start saying that you’re sorry about something. Did you take a sedative or something? Were you doing drugs just now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Just carry on with what I was doing just now! Who gives a rat’s a*s about going back and stuff?! (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
Choi Jeong-Hoon’s trembling intensified, but still, he managed to rub his face, hard. He knew this couldn’t go on. Unfortunately, his body stained by Yi Ji-Hyuk’s influence was getting furious all by itself.
‘I need to calm down.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon sucked in another deep breath.
“In any case, I’ll do my best to stop any annoying things from happening to you, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk. That’s why I request of you to let it slide just this once. If they do something that unfortunately crosses the line, then even I won’t try to stop you.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Now that I hear you, it’s a bit….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I mean, I don’t go around causing incidents and stuff, so I just don’t get why you’re telling me all this, you know?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jeong-Hoon quickly realised that there was no meaning in continuing on with this conversation.
“In any case. Just be aware of that, please.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Sure thing.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
What a good listener you are.
And you answer so promptly and nicely, too. (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su nodded his head.
Didn’t matter what Yi Ji-Hyuk’s personality was like, he was the most important person in the NDF and the Republic of Korea. It couldn’t be helped if a person began wanting for more after he lost the sight of his ideals, sure, but if Yi Ji-Hyuk grew dissatisfied because of that, then the whole point of the NDF’s existence would go out the window.
He thought that Choi Jeong-Hoon would take care of it in due course and that’s why he didn’t say anything until now, but now that the latter had lost his mental balance a bit, the former needed to step up and put him on the right track.
‘Things will get better, surely.’ (Jeong In-Su)
This problem wouldn’t get better overnight, but he still believed that the effects should show itself soon now that the mentality had changed.
“We’re almost at the destination.” (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su’s declaration caused tension to permeate in the air once more.
“Although we’re on our way to fight monsters, you all know that what we need to be careful against aren’t them. We at the Territory Defence will do our utmost best to protect your back. So, trust us to do our job and everyone, focus only on what you need to do when you’re out there.” (Jeong In-Su)
The replies resounded out and soon, the bus came to a stop.
“We’ll get off now.” (Jeong In-Su)
As the bus’s door opened, Yi Ji-Hyuk got up from his seat.
“Well now. Should I go say hi?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
A strange smile suddenly crept up on his lips.
Choi Jeong-Hoon caught that and felt this ominous foreboding creep up.
“What are you planning to do now?!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Nothing?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk whistled leisurely and exited from the bus.
< 312. Pardon? Did you eat something bad? -2 > Fin.