This was not the first time Lee Jae-heon tried to distance himself from others.
‘That tendency has been strong ever since we thought of Lee Jae-heon as a simple old man.’
No, from the beginning, everything from that ‘old man’ was an act, so of course there was bound to be a sense of distance from other people. Lee Jae-heon was a person who rarely revealed his true feelings.
And it was the same when the survivors first learned about Jaeheon Lee.
‘It’s also the fact that I knew about the behind-the-scenes world but didn’t say anything…’
Lee Jae-heon had a slightly shady side. Not only did he not share his thoughts and knowledge with others, he even went so far as to avoid people who asked his true feelings so that they would not notice.
‘There were times when he called himself a monster and encouraged the survivors to distance themselves from each other. ‘I intentionally made people feel fear by revealing more of the sense of discomfort I felt.’
If you think about such things, Lee Jae-heon was a very picky person.
“…It’s a pain in the ass…”
The problem was that once a person like this opened his heart and then closed it, he became five times more picky.
“I’m not even an adolescent.”
Although it was described as a ‘puberty teenager,’ the current situation was not that cute. This was even more so because the target was Lee Jae-heon, who was already big.
Jeong In-ho stretched out on the bed in his narrow studio room and sighed deeply.
To be honest, this kind of human relationship was a very painful problem for Jung In-ho.
‘I’m not that skilled.’
When other Ohseong co-workers hear this, they wonder, ‘Did I hear something wrong?’ I could have reacted the way I wanted to. Jeong In-ho was a member of society who was very skilled in the way he treated others and knew how to carry out what he wanted while properly respecting both sides.
However, treating those co-workers and Jaeheon Lee were a little different.
‘The target is very different from the beginning.’
Lee Jae-heon was someone who already made acting a part of his life, so he was an opponent that was impossible to shake with Jeong In-ho’s social skills, who also had acting as part of his life. When it comes to acting skills, Lee Jae-heon has the upper hand.
So I needed someone to discuss this.
“…First of all, it has to be someone who was at the aquarium together.”
Of course, there are a few trustworthy people, but what Jung In-ho needed right now was someone who could analyze Lee Jae-heon’s mental head and persuade him to change the direction of his thoughts.
So, it must be someone who knows why Jaeheon Lee is currently avoiding people.
“Among these people, Han Do-yoon and Kim Ki-jeong joined late… and they weren’t particularly afraid of the manager. “By that time, the manager had stabilized to some extent.”
However, thinking about Seo Jang-hwa was a nonsensical statement.
“Janghwa is not the type of person who is good at this.”
Seo Jang-hwa was a person who was good at overcoming difficulties, but not a person who turned difficulties into opportunities. Above all, although Seo Jang-hwa was clearly afraid of the crazy Lee Jae-heon, he was very reluctant to see him like that.
And Lee Jae-heon respected Seo Jang-hwa’s reluctance, and in such a situation, it would have been difficult for Seo Jang-hwa to break away from the experienced Jae-heon Lee’s verbal remarks.
“But to call Ha Seong-yoon…”
That person also seemed to be out of his mind right now.
‘I didn’t even show up to the company dinner.’
Ha Seong-yoon did not attend the survivors’ meeting because ‘there were a lot of patients’, but considering that he attended regularly in the past, it was an obvious lie.
‘Ha Seong-yoon is also a talented doctor, so he could have been really busy. However, the point to consider here is that Ha Seong-yoon used to devote more than a certain amount of time to survivors, no matter how busy he was, and that he has not been hearing from almost all survivors recently.’
Saying I was busy was just an excuse.
“…were his actions in the other world that shocking?”
It was expected that he would probably blame himself for urging Song In-myeong to be killed and for meekly accepting and using Lee Jae-heon’s sacrifice.
‘That person is also very unique.’
Ha Seong-yoon was particularly obsessed with his skills as a doctor, his conscience, and his morals as a human being. Although this tendency was more noticeable in the underworld, it was not much different in reality.
So, recently, I have been organizing various thoughts about the existence of Ha Seong-yoon and the background surrounding him…
In any case, it was an obsession that Jung In-ho did not understand and was unsightly.
‘Do you want to find your own identity at that age?’
It wasn’t something that Jung In-ho, who was obsessed with ‘goodness’, would say, but in the first place, Jung In-ho was a very crooked person, even though he had adapted well to society.
He gave an evaluation without conscience and also excluded Ha Seong-yoon from his list.
“In that case…”
Now who is left?
“…It’s just Dayoung.”
The only person who could discuss this situation was Park Da-young.
This is Park Da-young, a minor who is now in her third year of high school and is not even 20 years old.
How did things end up like this?
Even though Jeong In-ho was blaming himself, he honestly dialed Park Da-young’s number.
―…What’s going on?
“Can I talk to you for a moment, Dayoung?”
―I need to make a phone call, but my voice isn’t very good.
“There is something I would like to discuss with the manager…”
Park Da-young on the other end of the phone was silent for a moment and then spoke again.
-Are you free in the evening?
“…I always have time.”
-Then, call me after work on Tuesday evening.
Dayoung Park spoke in a voice without a pitch.
-I also had something to say about you.
“That’s a really reassuring story.”
It was so reassuring that I felt ashamed of myself.
In that the person I rely on is a high school senior.
* * *
So it was 7pm on Tuesday evening.
“Wasn’t it difficult to come?”
In-ho Jeong and Da-young Park met at a chicken restaurant.
For reference, Dayoung Park suggested ‘let’s talk while eating chicken’.
“Are you hungry for dinner?”
“Why are you saying something so obvious? “Anyway, I just ate some dinner to steal Mr. Inho’s wallet.”
“Okay… If it’s not times like this, when will I be able to save face as an adult? “I stole a lot.”
“Thanks to your support, I will do my best.”
“Choose some chicken.”
Park Da-young, who chose a total of 6 chicken dishes and 5 side dishes, nodded.
“I’ll give the rest to the kids.”
“That’s good too. “If you think it’s not enough, I’ll have a few more delivered there.”
“You have good sense. “I’m so thin that I can’t carry a lot of chicken.”
Jeong In-ho said with a small smile.
“I’m a little embarrassed to ask this since the manager supports everything, but how about the dormitory you’re living in now? Is there anything uncomfortable? Tell me what you need and I’ll tell the manager. Of course, I can buy it for you.”
“Uh… You pay for everything including rent and living expenses, so if you need anything more, aren’t you just a bastard? “For your information, that’s not me.”
“Are you lacking pocket money?”
“The money we receive every month is probably more than Jeong In-ho’s salary.”
“How much do you get paid?”
“I won’t tell you.”
The two had a meaningless conversation for a while, but soon after the chicken came out, they started talking in earnest.
The first person to speak was Jeong In-ho, who had invited Park Da-young to the event.
“It may be a bit awkward to say it like this, but… I think the manager has decided to keep some distance from us.”
“It didn’t seem like much was evident in his actions.”
“Because physical distance and mental distance are different. “He acts as naturally as possible as usual, but it seems so natural that it actually feels odd.”
Park Da-young took a sip of her cola and continued.
“To be honest, I didn’t think it would end up like this.”
“Since the first time I saw him at the aquarium.”
“You noticed it almost from the beginning.”
“If you just look at it, you can see the angles. “There is no one who doesn’t know that Lee Jae-heon has a soft heart…”
Park Da-young was also aware of Lee Jae-heon’s sense of discomfort right away. No, I guessed it from the moment things started to go wrong. When Park Da-young hesitated in fear of Lee Jae-heon, Lee Jae-heon seemed to have come to his own conclusion.
The problem was that Lee Jae-heon did not become like this simply because he was sensitive and picky.
“But if it had been that simple, we wouldn’t have been gathered together like this.”
Growing distance in one’s heart can happen to anyone. Moreover, even in marital relationships, the distance between the hearts grew, and it was possible for the survivors, who were strangers, to fight or become awkward with each other.
But Jaeheon Lee’s case was a bit different.
“What should you say in the first place?…”
“You’re being considerate of us.”
“Oh, right. And that’s the most frustrating.”
“My stomach is exploding.”
If a simple conflict had been the cause, Jaeheon Lee would not have distanced himself from us.
However, Park Da-young already had a history of being afraid of the crazy Lee Jae-heon at the aquarium, and the current situation had already been decided from then on.
Most people just didn’t know because Jaeheon Lee didn’t show it.
“I fucking knew that guy would do that.”
Jung In-ho deeply sympathized with Park Da-young’s lament.
‘It was hard.’
Jaeheon Lee was a person with low self-esteem.
A person who criticizes himself like he breathes, but he showed that he is afraid of such a person. I can’t believe you showed your reluctance. That was the equivalent of giving Lee Jae-heon an excuse to hide.
He always wondered why the survivors didn’t hate him. Meanwhile, since the survivors have finally started to show dislike, it will be difficult to change the mind of Lee Jae-heon, who has decided to stay away from them out of consideration for them.
Park Da-young, who was chewing on the straw of her cola glass, said.
“…I think it’s all a bit broken.”
“Everything. “Since I got out of the aquarium…”
Park Da-young, who was pursing her lips as if choosing a word to say, spoke again.
“Should I say it’s creaky?”
“Did you see that Uncle Jeong Man was very anxious…? If things continue the way they are, next time Mr. Jeongman might become a main member as well. What about Janghwa? “She said something about how she couldn’t do anything… She also asked me how I could use my abilities like me and Garam.”
“It would be better if such abilities did not arise.”
Some of the abilities that the survivors of the underworld had were, in fact, more like the struggles of those who had gone crazy rather than abilities. Kang Min-ah’s ability to improve, the Park siblings’ communication skills, and Yoon Gar-ram’s spark were all like that.
“It can be said that it is fortunate that Mr. Kim Ki-jeong, who is the most sensitive, is fine, but… that too in its own way. “Did you know that the last time we had a company dinner, Mr. Kim Ki-jeong was very observant of people’s opinions?”
“In particular, Lee Jae-heon seemed to be paying attention to me. I have puffy eyes under my eyes and it seems like I’ve had a lot of nightmares. Wouldn’t Mr. Lee Jae-heon become a corpse again like he did then… Or maybe he’s already a corpse and we won’t recognize him… “Even when I think about that, I blame myself and become anxious again.”
“I guess he’s scary now.”
This was the same for Seo Jang-hwa, who felt helpless.
“But rather than being afraid of you, she seemed to be a bit reluctant about you, right?”
“Well… well, it’s hard to say that the poisonous behavior the manager showed back then was that of an ordinary person.”
“It was difficult to even see it as just a human being. “I was really freaked out at that time too.”
Everyone knows Lee Jae-heon’s obsessive sacrificial spirit, but the ‘it’ he showed while escaping the aquarium had an overly terrible and miserable aspect. Some survivors at the aquarium did not seem to feel that Lee Jae-heon was a fellow human being.
Honestly, Park Da-young was like that too.
“It seems like something that is beyond the level of understanding or empathy… uh…”
A living piece of meat.
Lee Jae-heon survived it simply with his mental strength.
“You can’t help but be scared.”
“That’s right, it was a sight beyond common sense.”
From before, a strange sense of discomfort or fear towards Lee Jae-heon had been hidden implicitly.
However, Lee Jae-heon showed enough acting ability to offset that, he humbled himself and helped me not to be afraid.
But now Jaeheon Lee seemed to have lost the will to do so.
“…Can I contact teacher Seongyoon over there?”
“…I guess you’re very busy with work.”
“Do you think that teacher will stay away from us too?”
“Everyone is really doing too much.”
Park Da-young’s voice was calm, but the corners of her eyes were a little red.
“It’s really too much.”
It felt like the ground I was barely standing on was shaking.
I was anxious that I might lose the guardian I had gained so much.
(Continued in the next part)