Seo Ah-Young finally left work late, late at night, and while trying her best to suppress the migraine, she got into her car and drove away.
“By the way, who was the man in the video footage?”
“You have definitely secured him, yes?”
“You should have realised that there will be no benefits for us if the world at large learns of him.”
‘What a bunch of old, retarded farts.’ (Seo Ah-Young)
Seo Ah-Young stomped on the accelerator in anger.
“Talk is cheap, you idiots. Really cheap!” (Seo Ah-Young)
Sitting in their lofty chairs and putting on needless airs, and feeling satisfied only after things get done as exactly as their inflated egos wanted… Whenever she had to deal with these men, in the ensuing aftermaths her entire being felt as heavy as a blanket soaked to the core by a passing storm.
“I wonder, how much progress he’s made with that thing…”
The “thing”, being securing Yi Ji-Hyuk.
Choi Jung-Hoon went over to the lair of the dragon to put an end to this silly tug of war, all for the sake of completing that important task they had to finish, no matter what.
Seo Ah-Young trusted him.
There was literally nothing he couldn’t do, if he really put his mind to it.
Seo Ah-Young was his superior officer, but if she were to be honest about it, pretty much all the important decision making was carried out by him.
She grew to rely on him whenever urgent situations rose up. That was why she trusted him to achieve a wonderful, storybook-like success with this endeavor, as well.
“But…. Why isn’t he answering his phone?” (Seo Ah-Young)
For some reason, Choi Jung-Hoon hadn’t been answering his phone for a while now.
If today was like any other day, she wouldn’t have worried too much. But today, he was in the den of Yi Ji-Hyuk. That made her worry.
Whenever Yi Ji-Hyuk was involved in their business, something seemed to go wrong almost every dang time. It was as if he was busy chucking debuff spells on everyone around him or some such.
“….There’s no way, right?” (Seo Ah-Young)
She kept telling herself this, while her car headed towards Yi Ji-Hyuk’s apartment. She knew that, at a bare minimum, she had to confirm for herself, otherwise she’d never get any sleep tonight.
She arrived at the apartment complex that was near total ruination, parked the car wherever there was space, and raised her head towards the target’s apartment.
“The light… is still on?” (Seo Ah-Young)
What time was it already?
Seo Ah-Young became increasingly worried by the light shining out from Yi Ji-Hyuk’s apartment, but in the end, she resolutely gritted her teeth, firmed her will, and took a step towards the foyer of the building.
Although her late visit would definitely be seen as an impolite nuisance, she just had to confirm with her own eyes.
After arriving at the front door to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s apartment, Seo Ah-Young breathed in deeply.
Indeed, visiting someone else’s home at such a late hour – encroaching on the early morning, even – would prove to be a big social no-no. But, if the thing she was dreading inwardly was happening for real, then turning around to leave now would be an even bigger personal no-no.
Taking another deep breath, she pressed the doorbell.
After a short wait…
– “Who is it?”
“My apologies for bothering you so late. It’s Seo Ah-Young from the KS…”
Seo Ah-Young became dumbfounded at the abrupt end to the conversation through the intercom.
“What’s going on?”
*SFX for an electronic lock being undone*
But very soon after, she heard the distinct sound of the electronic door lock being undone. The door flung open and Park Seon-Duk peeked her head out.
“M, mother, how do you do?” (Seo Ah-Young)
Her expression completely unreadable, Park Seon-Duk grandly groaned out.
“Please, come in.” (mom)
“Thank you. Is Mister Choi Jung-Hoon with you, by any chance?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“You’ll see for yourself once you come inside.” (mom)
“Excuse me?” (Seo Ah-Young)
Seo Ah-Young detected something bad from the way Park Seon-Duk’s expression crumpled, and unsteadily entered the apartment.
And then…. she saw it.
‘Is this deja vu?’ (Seo Ah-Young)
No, wait a minute, there was no gawd-dang way this was deja vu!!
But why was she suddenly under the assault of this undeniable feeling, that she had seen this sight before, not too long ago?!
Seo Ah-Young’s eyes twitched as if she was going through a 8.0 magnitude earthquake.
“Go away and stop trying to stick close to me!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Haven’t you played racing games before? Don’t you know that your head moves along when you’re trying to go around a corner real fast?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“We are not playing racing games, are we?! What the!! Hey! Take your foot off the controller’s cord!! Before you lose that ankle of yours!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Aigoo~, it’s hard to win even when you keep your eyes on the TV, yet you dare to look away? That’s why you keep losing, you know? Well, whatever. Let’s just end this.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What the hell! Are you going to keep playing this way until the end?! This is a battle between men!! Your pride is at stake!! Can’t you play in a fair and honourable way?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Win by any means necessary. Don’t you know that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Wow, you really play games like a crook!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Did she have to witness that stupid sight?
Seo Ah-Young’s cheeks began twitching uncontrollably.
Just what on blazing hell was Choi Jung-Hoon doing right now?
Why was he playing a video game on someone else’s TV, in someone else’s home?!
Such things could happen.
However, right now, it was past two in the morning.
What kind of crazy buffoon would play games in someone else’s home at two o’clock in the morning!!
“….Mister. Choi. Jung. Hoon.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Unfortunately, her low voice didn’t reach its intended audience.
“With this, it’s 20 wins and three losses. Why don’t you admit your loss and quit?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Admit? You telling me to admit?! Out of those so-called 20 wins, how many did you actually win fairly with nothing but your skills only? Let’s carry on until 100 wins!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“We’re going to stay up the whole night at this rate.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Wah!! Really?! What? Again!! How can you be this dirty?! A human being cannot go this low and dirty, can he?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Seo Ah-Young’s voice became much louder.
“MISTER. CHOI. JUNG. HOON.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Choi Jung-Hoon belatedly turned around to look.
And then… he saw it.
He saw Seo Ah-Young looking at him with a pair of eyes that belonged to a demonic mass murderer.
“What the…. but, uh… C, captain, just when did you….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Without saying another word, Seo Ah-Young clenched her fist real tightly and pounced on Choi Jung-Hoon.
“My sincerest apologies.” (Seo Ah-Young)
Choi Jung-Hoon was on his knees, his face full of anguish and sorrow from the injustice he had been subjected under. Seo Ah-Young was next to him, also on her knees. They kowtowed to Park Seon-Duk and apologised wholeheartedly.
“…No, well, there’s really no need for you to apologise…” (mom)
“It’s fine. It’s fine.” (Ye-Won)
Yi Ye-Won smiled brightly and accepted the apology on behalf of her mom.
“I truly did not know such a thing was taking place here. As I am his superior officer, please accept my apologies, mother.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“No, really, it’s fine.” (mom)
Even Park Seon-Duk was at a loss as to what she could say under the current circumstances.
Meanwhile, Yi Ji-Hyuk was smirking on the side.
“Well, it’s your fault for challenging me when you couldn’t even win.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Flames erupted out from Choi Jung-Hoon’s eyes.
“Let’s use cordless controllers!! Yes, that’s the way! Don’t stick next to me, stay far away and then, let’s see who wins or not!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Mister Choi Jung-Hoon.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“…Y, yes?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“One more word from you, and I’ll personally bury you six feet under.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Yes, ma’am.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Seeing Choi Jung-Hoon crash and burn, Yi Ji-Hyuk became even more annoyingly arrogant in his demeanor.
“I don’t understand why he did this stupid, inane thing, but….” (Seo Ah-Young)
She had trusted him so much!
She believed he could pull it off this time, yet….!
“I sincerely hope that you view today’s incident as a display of how much we wish to work together with you, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Mm… Well, sure…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Hearing that weak-sauce response, Seo Ah-Young sighed out under her breath.
She quickly thought about her options here. Should she retreat for now, sort out Choi Jung-Hoon and his erratic ways, and then try again at a later date? Or, stay and see this thing through till the end, right now?
‘No, we can’t delay this any longer.’ (Seo Ah-Young)
She really didn’t have much time left.
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Yep?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s time you make your mind up.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“About what?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Do you still not wish to work with us at all?” (Seo Ah-Young)
Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t reply, and simply stared at Choi Jung-Hoon.
Actually, the thing was….
He did find it fun, dealing with these people. But, he shouldn’t base his choice solely on that.
‘It’ll get harder to avoid annoying things from now on.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He had already showed off some of what he could do. Even if he decided not to get involved with the KSF, it was inevitable he’d be under the constant surveillance for the rest of his life. If he didn’t want that, then the alternative was to smash the KSF apart. But who’d stop the monsters afterwards?
Since Yi Ji-Hyuk was very much not interested in flying around everywhere trying to stop the monster invasion, the continued existence of the KSF was a must.
Long story short, he didn’t mind “entering” the ranks of the KSF. However, the method of “entering” itself was a slight problem.
“There are a few questions I wanna ask you.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Please ask. I will try to answer them to the best of my abilities.” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Firstly, if I were to work for you, what kind of employment am I looking at here? Am I an official government employee? Or am I working on a per-contract basis?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seo Ah-Young glanced at Choi Jung-Hoon.
“But, you told me not to open my mouth.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Oh, so you want me to make sure that you can’t talk forever?” (Seo Ah-Young)
Choi Jung-Hoon fake-coughed a few times after hearing that threat, and began explaining.
“Although we say that the most of the ability users are hired by the KSF, not all of them are what you’d call real employees of the KSF. Most of them are loosely tied to us, under the pretense of being managed by us. However, someone like Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk won’t be affiliated with the KSF.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“You’ll be assigned to a new agency that’ll open its doors soon. This is a brand new branch of the government that will not be restricted by the KSF’s policies. It’ll be run by a select few elites, tasked with managing the incidents and the ability users found throughout the whole country.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shifted his gaze to Seo Ah-Young. Did that mean this woman would run that new department? Was the once-proud Republic of Korea lacking capable people or something?
While worrying about the future of his homeland, Yi Ji-Hyuk slowly nodded his head.
“Fine, how will my terms of employment look like?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Here, take a look at this pamphlet, please….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk trembled slightly from the shock as he received the pamphlet from Choi Jung-Hoon. Just where did he find the opportunity to print this little thing?
Why was someone like him not selling insurance and was wasting away at a job this rotten?
Browsing through the pamphlet carefully, Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head again.
“Besides what’s written there, the terms we told you before will be honoured, as well. Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, as you can see, we have prepared the best terms we can possibly prepare, for you. Even if we wanted to offer more, it’s physically impossible. Please, for the last time, we implore you to reconsider our offer.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon breathed in deeply and continued on.
“Work with us. Please. Right now, the nation of Korea, and the world, is facing its greatest threat. Your abilities will definitely be able to defend this world.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Yes, yes. Sure.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk let Choi Jung-Hoon’s sincere, heartfelt plea enter one ear and leak out the other without caring much about it. He put the pamphlet down nonchalantly.
“…What is your answer?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Mm. My answer, is it. Fine, I’ll give you one… But before that, I gotta make sure of one thing first.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Okay.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Well, it’s a bit awkward to say it out here, so why don’t we meet again tomorrow morning? It doesn’t feel right to talk about this at home, so find us a suitable place, please.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon nodded his head.
The meaning of him willing to come out and meet them was simple – Yi Ji-Hyuk was almost ready to cross the threshold of unwillingness and join them. So, there was no need to raise a fuss over this small matter.
“In that case, we understand your intentions. Then, we shall be on our way now.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“I won’t see you out.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon and Seo Ah-Young apologised once more and left the apartment.
And after they exited from the building, Choi Jung-Hoon fished out a cigarette and lit it up.
“Why did you do that?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“What do you mean?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“What possessed you to play a game, of all things?” (Seo Ah-Young)
Choi Jung-Hoon smirked slightly.
“So I could persuade Mister Ji-Hyuk, ma’am.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“And what are you even talking about now?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“The really important thing here is what Mister Ji-Hyuk’s thoughts are like. Me explaining to his mother, that was the same as me explaining directly to him, you see. You saw him sitting next to her, yes? That guy is the type that wouldn’t give a rat’s a*s if something’s being explained to him, but whenever his mother is involved, he’ll show up and listen attentively. He’s the perfect example of an annoying person, who loves to do the exact opposite of what everyone asks of him.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Sure, now that you put it like that….” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Outwardly, even though it seems like his mother holds all the decision making rights, for our current problem at least, how Mister Ji-Hyuk perceives us is the most crucial part, ma’am. Our biggest hurdle was that, his first impression of us was not very good, which led him to hold a not-so favourable view of us. So, I had to do something to resolve that negative sentiments.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“And so, you came up with playing video games?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Wouldn’t you say the end result was satisfactory?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“It does feel like that way…” (Seo Ah-Young)
“While playing the game, if I won and pulled him in that way, I’d say things wouldn’t have worked out all that well in the long run. I lost deliberately enough times to butter him up, you see. Thanks to that, I’m convinced he holds much more friendly intentions towards us now.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“But, he isn’t even a little kid, you know…” (Seo Ah-Young)
“No, that’s not true. He is exactly like a little kid. Think about it. Mister Ji-Hyuk went missing at a young age. And he even lost his memories. In that case, his mental age is no better than a high schooler at most. And we both heard the stories from his student days, that he wasn’t the most mature type of person, even back then. So, you see? A method befitting a kid needed to be utilised.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
….Seo Ah-Young had to admit that what he said sounded rather convincing. More or less.
‘This guy… he definitely has the skills of a con man, doesn’t he?’ (Seo Ah-Young)
He sounded really convincing right now.
“Okay, so what’s going to happen now?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Tomorrow, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk will feign defeat and agree to our terms, and join the KSF. I guarantee it.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Seeing that victorious smile on Choi Jung-Hoon’s face, Seo Ah-Young felt the waves of relief wash over her.
Yes, I wasn’t wrong to trust this man.
This man, he is none other than THE Choi Jung-Hoon, after all! (Seo Ah-Young’s inner monologue)
Now that she thought about how this time-wasting tug of war was coming to an end soon, this feeling of refreshment began tickling her all over.
Unfortunately, though… they didn’t know.
They had no idea just what kind of a man Yi Ji-Hyuk was.
Their defeat was guaranteed the moment they chose Yi Ji-Hyuk as their opponent. What they had failed to realise was that the price to pay for this slip up would end up quite ridiculously enormous.
< 52. If it’s a fight, then there’s only one way! -2 > Fin.