chapter 360: If it doesn’t want to improve, fixing it will solve everything! (5)

“I’m not planning to drag around someone who’s allegedly too busy, so you don’t have to sweat it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“I, I’m not that busy, you know.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“But, you said you were?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“…O-of course, I am busy. I am, but it’s not as if I can’t make time if I want.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Oh, really?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at her with an accusatory glare, and Jeong Hae-Min hurriedly waved her hands around.

“I-it’s the truth.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

She was lying.

Currently, her schedule was so full that she didn’t have the figurative time to even take a breath.

The idea of ‘making hay while the sun still shines’ wasn’t just hers alone anymore. Even the president of the talent agency she belonged to agreed with her sentiment 110%.

When you lived your entire working life as an entertainer, you’d learn to appreciate how important ‘luck’ was in your career.

Some no-name kid might one day become a bona fide superstar after a self-shot video suddenly went viral. Or, a star at the peak of their prime might suddenly land in the gutter through a minor scandal.

To put it simply, the career in the entertainment industry had no guarantee when and how your image might change. So, you had to rake in the dough and fill up your retirement funds when you could.

Jeong Hae-Min had already tasted the gutters before so she knew this truth almost better than anyone, and realistically speaking, she also didn’t expect this sunshine to last forever, either.

If there was sunlight, then there was bound to be a night, too.

So, she was running around all over the place as if her feet were on fire with the singular thought of building up a huge shed to stock all of her hay.

But now….

“What is it? What’s going on?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

The curiosity did kill the cat, it seemed.

“Nah, it’s fine. I mean, you are too busy, so no need to play around and have fun with me, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Ng?? Are you going to have fun somewhere?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Her ears were literally perking up.

“Nah, it’s fine. You can just go do your own idol things now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“W-where will you be going?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“I’m telling you, go do your job. No need to concern yourself with plebeian matters, your busy-ness.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Let me go, too. Please let me. Ng? Hurry and let’s go!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“….You sure? Weren’t you too busy to go anywhere?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“No, I’m not! I’m not busy anymore.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Her manager waiting by the tour van freaked out and shouted at her.

“Miss Hae-Min?!” (manager)

“What is it??” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“You know that you can’t clear any of your scheduling this week! You insisted on coming here today, and we barely managed to squeeze in a few minutes! If you try to free up more time, it’s only going to backfire on you.” (manager)

“Who cares, let it happen.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“M-Miss Hae-Min, you shouldn’t be doing this.” (manager)

“Argh, I don’t care anymore. Tell them to go on without me.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Her manager began frothing in the mouth.

Choi Jeong-Hoon watched this spectacle unfold and felt this weird sense of kinship with the manager.

‘That’s what life is like, you know.’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

This was the fate of the ‘have-nots’, unfortunately.

The sad part of this reality was, the ‘haves’ busy exploiting them weren’t even the real ‘haves’ to begin with. If you were the so-called ‘haves’, you should act like one, not like some bloody time wasters!

“O-okay, so. What brings you here today?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon hurriedly changed the topic. He felt this deep sense of unease – at this rate, they might be treated to an unsightly spectacle of Jeong Hae-Min completely forgetting about her schedule or whatever and start playing video games alongside Yi Ji-Hyuk or something.

“Ah, I forgot!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Jeong Hae-Min opened the van’s door.

“I bought lunch for everyone. I thought you guys might be too absorbed in your work and forget to eat on time again, so…” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Her tour van was actually filled with boxes containing packaged lunch for everyone.

“Keuh, Miss Hae-Min!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon looked deeply moved by her gesture.

“I kinda felt bad about only me not participating in the op, and there aren’t any good places around here to order takeaways, so I figured everyone wouldn’t even be getting a proper meal.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“….I won’t deny that.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“This is a bit much for me to carry alone, so can you call a few people out?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“What do you mean, you’ll carry them? No, a person paying for something isn’t supposed to carry the luggage. Please stay here and don’t lift a finger, please. Others will carry them in.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

Choi Jeong-Hoon pulled out his phone and sent a quick message. Not too long afterwards, burly men kitted out black suits leapt out of the building while crying out in elation, before completely sweeping away every single lunch box there was.

“What the hell. Were they starved for a few days or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk clicked his tongue.

Look at all those folks with lots of money, going mental over a single lunch box and all.

“It’s not the matter of lunch boxes, but they’ll probably upload the pics of their lunch on SNS, saying that Miss Jeong Hae-Min actually bought them food.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Uh? Hey, I’ve heard about that. It’s that thing, right? That attention hog thing.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“…..No, it is not.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“Oh, well. In any case, I’ll be on my way now. When you get the data ready, give me a shout.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Of course.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

“W-where are you going now? Please, just tell me, will you?! Ng? Ng?? I, I can definitely make time, you know!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

The manager began shedding tears next.

“M-Miss Hae-Min!!” (manager)

“I’m gonna stop by at Ji-Hyuk’s place for a bit, so please cancel all of my scheduling for the rest of this afternoon. Thanks!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“But, but! You have a photo shoot later this evening!” (manager)

“It’s okay. Cancel it!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Jeong Hae-Min trotted after Yi Ji-Hyuk while fluttering like a butterfly, and the manager could only hold his head in despair at this sight.

Choi Jeong-Hoon wordlessly placed his hand on the manager’s shoulder.

Well, that’s life.

***

“A class reunion?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Yup.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Wow, a class reunion, is it? That sounds so romantic, you know!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Jeong Hae-Min giggled away.

“Haven’t you done something like that before?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Nope. I don’t have any friends so there is no need for reunions and stuff.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Jeong Hae-Min somehow was able to smile so innocently while muttering something pretty sad like that.

“Wait, isn’t that supposed to be a depressing story?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Why?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“….You said you don’t have any friends, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Ah, that. It’s not that I’m bad at making friends, but the thing is, I started my idol training way too early in my life and couldn’t attend school regularly, that’s all. Everyone I consider as my friends are all on this side of the fence, you see. I meant to say that I don’t have any school friends.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Ah, I see.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

If she started her idol training from early on in her student days, just how long had she been toiling away in the entertainment industry?

When he thought about it, Jeong Hae-Min could very well qualify as the idol world’s living fossil or some such.

“Okay, so?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Ng? What do you mean by that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“So, are you going to the reunion?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Well, they say they want me there, so there’s no reason not to go, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Did you buy new clothes?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Yi Ji-Hyuk stared straight at Jeong Hae-Min who was saying the exact same thing as his own family. He somehow could understand now why they liked her so much.

Their ‘code’ was the same, that’s why.

“You, you. You’re saying the exact same thing as my family, did you know that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Hang on a second. You can’t possibly be thinking of going there looking like that?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Why not? Am I forbidden from looking like this?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

This time, Jeong Hae-Min stared straight at him before opening her mouth.

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“Of course, everyone now knows that this is your trademarked look. But even Superman won’t go to his class reunion while wearing the spandex underwear over his trousers, now would he?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“……….”

“Every occasion has clothes that go with it.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Groan…. Fine. I’ve already been to a department store, okay?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“There, there. Now that’s a good boy.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Jeong Hae-Min reached up and petted Yi Ji-Hyuk on the head. Too bad, no matter how much she tried, she could only reach the back of his head, though.

“By the way, why are you telling me this? You got scared by the prospect of going alone? Should this noona chaperone you, then?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Yep.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“There, there. If that’s what you wa… Eh?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Let’s go.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“…..N-ng??” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Jeong Hae-Min tilted her head. Why was he trying to take her to his class reunion?

“You want me? Me?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Yep.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“W-what should I even do by going there?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“You see, Ye-Won was busy telling me this….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Ng?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“The class reunion is war.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“N-ng??” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“It’s the contest of pride for every member of society, where you compare who’s managed to eke out a better life than the others.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“N-n-ng??” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Jeong Hae-Min’s eyes became round dots.

What on earth was he going on about?

Wasn’t the class reunion an occasion for old friends to meet up and while sharing gentle chuckles, reignite the rosy memories of the past?

“B-but, as far as I know, reunions are supposed to be occasions where you reminisce about the past and stuff like that….?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Yeah, that’s what I said, but…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Ng?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“She said, what could you possibly be reminiscing about your school days?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“……..”

“She said, it’s like, you were mostly spending your time busy talking crap about your teachers or talking behind your friends’ back if they were not around, went around here and there to munch on booze and snacks, stuff like that. And like, if those people were really friends you enjoyed hanging around back then, you’d still be in touch with them even now so why the need for a reunion in the first place?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“….Isn’t Ye-Won still a high school student?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“She sure is.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“I guess high schoolers are pretty cynical these days.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Maybe it’s just her.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“M-mm….” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Jeong Hae-Min recalled Yi Ye-Won and began nodding her head. For sure, that girl did have a cynical side to her.

“But, what’s that got to do with me tagging along?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“She says it’ll be even better if I show up with a girlfriend.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Right away, Jeong Hae-Min’s face turned bright red.

“G-g-girlfriend??” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“I thought about it, and…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“N-ng.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“I was initially thinking of taking Dah-Som with me, but well, taking a high school girl to a high school reunion is a bit weird, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“….Dah-Som?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Jeong Hae-Min’s expression stiffened ever so slightly.

“But then, taking Affel along is also a bit too weird, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“….Now it’s Lady Affeldrichae?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“But, that also doesn’t mean I can take Erukana with me, either. If I do, everyone else taking one look at her won’t be able to open their mouths ever again….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“……..”

“As for Gah-Yun, she probably won’t come out even if she’s there. Am I right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

A pale hand popped out from Yi Ji-Hyuk’s shadow and formed an OK sign with her fingers.

“Which leaves me with only you as my sole candidate.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“………….”

“Okay, so. You wanna go with me?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Don’t wanna.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Eh? But, you said you will only a minute ago?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“I said, I don’t wanna go!!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“If you don’t want to, then you don’t have to, so why are you biting my head off??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

When Yi Ji-Hyuk yelled back at her, Jeong Hae-Min snorted grandly and spun her head away.

“Forget it, then. It can’t be helped, in that case. I’ll go with someone else.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Who said I won’t go??” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at Jeong Hae-Min in pure stupefaction.

“….But, uh, my dear lady, didn’t you just say you don’t wanna go like two seconds ago?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Or, are my ears just a pair of knot holes?

I thought I heard her saying she doesn’t wanna go twice in a row, too….

Is there a ghost around here, directly whispering confusing words in my ear? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)

“I, I need to check my schedule first, so don’t get your hopes up, okay!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“….Ng.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Although he had quite a few salient points he’d like to bring up, it felt like now wasn’t a good time to do so.

“Okay, so when will it be?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Not sure yet.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Wait, you don’t even have a fixed date, yet you want me to match my schedule to yours?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“….That’s why I keep saying that you don’t have to go if you don’t like it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

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“Ha, you really know how to annoy people, don’t you? Fine, fine! Just tell me when you have the date set and ready to go.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Yi Ji-Hyuk replied with a sour tone of voice.

“Hang on. I’m telling you, you don’t have to come if you’re really busy. I can go with someone else, so no need to forcibly free up your schedule. It’ll be me feeling bad for making you work extra when you’re supposed to be too busy with your own stuff.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“I’m not busy.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“….But, you said you were?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“When someone says she’s not busy, just take it as her not being busy. A man shouldn’t be complaining so much!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“….Sure thing.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Yi Ji-Hyuk’s lips protruded out in a huge pout, but for some reason, he thought that he needed to concede defeat here.

It wasn’t as if he only learned how to use magic in his lengthy lifetime, and this was the demonstration of that fact!

“Okay, so. We’re in agreement, then.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Hah, this is so annoying.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Well, excuse me! If it’s so annoying, then don’t come!!

No one’s forcing you to show up, you know?! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)

Yi Ji-Hyuk’s tongue moved furiously inside his mouth, but too bad, his lips didn’t want to part.

“You, you should count yourself really lucky. You think it’s so easy to go to a class reunion with an active idol as your partner?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“….More like a jummadol.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Kkyaaaahk!!” (Jeong Hae-Min)

It felt like something was busy going “slap, slap!” on his back, but as Yi Ji-Hyuk grew up being trained by mother’s spike shots, Jeong Hae-Min’s little tantrum didn’t even qualify as a back massage.

His back already boasted a steel-like defensive power.

“In any case, we are in agreement, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“D-don’t get your hopes too high up, though.” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Yi Ji-Hyuk ended up shaking his head.

Why was she being so coy like this, which didn’t even suit her, to begin with?

“By the way….” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Jeong Hae-Min suddenly became more sombre as she asked a question.

“Are you really not going to participate in this operation?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“It’s not that I don’t want to, but they don’t want me.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“But, why don’t they want you there?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“I’m a civilian, so apparently, I can’t join a military operation. Well, that’s what they said, so what can I do?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

“Are you really not going to follow after them?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

“Yup.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

Jeong Hae-Min tilted her head.

“But, you usually don’t care about stuff like that and do whatever the heck you want if you think it’s necessary, don’t you? Aren’t you just sulking right now?” (Jeong Hae-Min)

Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a lengthy groan.

He just couldn’t understand how women’s minds worked sometimes.

< 360. If it doesn’t want to improve, fixing it will solve everything! -5 > Fin.

(TL: My bad for the late post. I, uh, forgot.)

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